Easily keep track of grades in two systems with Grades Journey.

Grades Journey enables institutions to automate the exchange of assignment and grade data between their Student Information Systems (SIS) and Blackboard Learn. With Grades Journey, the SIS can optionally define columns in the Grade Center, graders can post the gradebook for retrieval, and the SIS can retrieve submitted grades. Administrators can configure Grades Journey to control how graders and instructors use Grades Journey.

You can implement the Grades Journey interfaces using flat files, RESTful web services, or LIS 2.0 (SOAP) web services.

Grades Journey Services are included in Blackboard Learn release Q4 2015 and later. Due to wide variation in information systems, SIS feature licenses, implementations, policies, and business practices, grades exchange processes are complex. Implementation services from Blackboard Consulting are recommended. Blackboard Consulting can also assist with custom grades exchange solutions or solutions for older versions of Blackboard Learn.

Please note the following actions are currently not supported for Grades Journey.

  • Automatic approval of courses
  • Creation of manual column on flat file

In Q4 2016, updates to Grades Journey included improved handling for managing grade columns in, or reading grade data from, merged sections. Institutions using flat file or REST in addition to LIS integration types can now retrieve just the external grade column.

More on Q4 2016 Release Notes

Installation and configuration

The Grades Journey Service is off by default. To use the tools, administrators must first make the Blackboard Grades Journey Service Building Block available.

More on how to manage Blackboard Learn Building Blocks


Using Grades Journey

After you've installed and configured Grades Journey, begin using it at your institution to share information between Learn and your SIS. Administrators, instructors, and graders use Grades Journey differently.

Grader activities

Users can approve grades for transfer if their role is appropriately configured in the Grades Journey properties.

Approve grades for transfer - Grade approval required

  1. A grader enters the Grade Center for a given course.
  2. The grader selects Manage and selects Grade Approval and Transfer.

    If lock is turned on, a confirmation page appears. If confirmed, a read only page is displayed and the steps below won't apply.

  3. If the grader wishes to approve all grades for transfer, use the checkboxes to select the course. Select Approve Grades and confirm. The status updates to indicate approval.
  4. If the grader wishes to approve only certain grade columns or grades, they must select the checkbox to select the course and select the Grade Column Approval and Transfer button.
  5. The grader sees all columns eligible for extraction.
    • If the grader wishes to approve all grades for the given columns, select the checkbox for the desired columns and select the Approve button to confirm. The status updates to indicate approval.
    • If the grader wishes to only approve certain grades, select the desired grade column checkboxes and select the Grade Approval and Transfer button. When any grade column is approved, the course is marked as approved.
  6. The grader then selects the desired grade and selects Approve to confirm. The status updates to indicate approval. When any grade is approved, the corresponding column is also marked as approved.
  7. If the grader wants to revoke approval, they find and select the checkbox for the item and select Unapprove.

Approve grades for transfer - Course grade approval (Flat File Integrations)

  1. A grader enters the Grade Center for a given course.
  2. The grader selects Manage and selects Grade Approval and Transfer.
  3. If a history page is not configured, a confirmation page appears. After the grader schedules or approves, the extraction is scheduled and the flat file is generated at the next scheduled time.
  4. If a history page is configured, it appears with Schedule and Extract options. If the grader chooses Extract, the flat file is generated immediately and the history is updated. If the grader selects Schedule, the extract is generated at the next scheduled time.
  5. If locking is configured, the Grade Center is now shown in read-only mode. Grades can't be updated unless an administrator unlocks the Grade Center.

Extract files

You can configure Grades Journey to use a local transfer method so an extract file is saved to your local server. After the extract is complete, the file will be located in the path you specified.

  1. Go to the Administrator Panel > Building Blocks > Installed Tools.
  2. Locate Blackboard Grade Journey Service in the list and open its settings.
  3. Select Grade Extract Settings (Outgoing Data).
  4. Under Result Transfer Settings, refer to the Path field. When the Transfer Method is set to Local, the extracted file will be saved in the location specified in Path.

Administrator activities

Approving grades for transfer

Administrators can approve grades as needed on behalf of graders.

Navigate to System Admin > Tools > Grade Approval and Transfer. Search for the course using the course ID, name, or other details. In the search results, select the course you're interested in. Choose Extract Grades, Approve Grades, Unapprove Grades, or Grade Column Approval and Transfer as appropriate.

Repair grade columns (for REST and LIS integrations)

For implementations in which the SIS sources Grade Center columns, it's possible that the Grade Center columns could be manually deleted in the Grade Center. This doesn't happen often, but accidents can happen.

  1. If a grade column is deleted and notifications are set up, those users should receive an email. This email will contain the batch_uid for the deleted column. An administrator can fix this issue using the batch_uid.
  2. A grader or administrator goes to the Grade Center for the affected course and manually creates a replacement column. The new column should have the same settings as the one that was deleted. Make it weighted or manual according to the original column's settings.
  3. An administrator then navigates to System Admin > Tools > Grade Approval and Transfer.
  4. Locate the course, select it, and choose Grade Column Repair.
  5. For the newly created column, enter the batch_uid of the column that was accidentally deleted and select Update Batch Uids.
  6. The column is now repaired and the transactions should continue to work as expected.

Delete grade status information

The system purposely keeps all grade status information stored until an administrator manually deletes it.

  1. To delete, navigate to System Admin > Tools > Grade Status Delete.
  2. Select the date for the delete and select Submit. The system deletes all status information prior to the date specified.

Lock on approval

You can enable a setting in Grades Journey that locks the Grade Center when users approve and transfer grade information. The setting helps make sure that the grade data in Blackboard Learn stays consistent with the information contained in the grade extract file.

If you enable this setting for your institution, users will see a warning that tells them their Grade Center will be locked for that course if they continue with the transfer. The user will still be able to see the grades for that course, but it is a read-only view and they won't be able to edit.

Unlock tool

If an instructor or teaching assistant notices an error after they've extracted the grade information, they may request that you unlock the Grade Center for that course. In these cases, you can unlock the Grade Center for a user after an extract occurs.

  1. Navigate to System Admin > Tools > Grade Center Course Unlock Tool.
  2. Enter a course ID and select Submit.
  3. If the course is found, the unlock flag is reset and then graders can update grades and re-extract or re-schedule.
  4. If no course is found, an error appears.

Grades Journey implementation methods

  Flat Files Implementation Rest API LIS
Grade Column Provisioning Weighted or Manual Weighted, Total, or Manual Weighted or Manual
Content Provisioning Assignment Only Assignment, Test, Wiki, Blog, Journal, Self, Peer, Discussion, Survey None
Grade Values Updates Manual (as of 2.9) No Manual
Grade Schema Provisioning Yes Yes Yes
Grade Extract Yes Yes Yes

The following guides detail how to implement Grades Journey.