I examined and compared the gradebook features in Moodle and BB9. While overall I much
prefer Moodle due to its flexibility and aesthetics, I had difficulty with the gradebook and
thought that the BB9 gradebook would probably be easier. What I actually found is that
both platforms have complicated gradebooks. I think that most faculty will benefit from
gradebook training (short videos would be my preference!) no matter which LMS is chosen.
I have a slight preference for the Moodle gradebook.
In Moodle, which I am using this term for a hybrid WR 122 course, I discovered that my plan
to just add items as I went along through the term did not work well, largely because I
misunderstood how to use the resource and activity tools. I assumed that for assignments I
was not asking to be turned in online, I should use the resource tool because I was simply
posting the instructions. This did not work well because the options for manual items
(resources) are different than the options for activities, so I had difficulty figuring it out and
difficulty assigning weights. I also found that it is not possible to go back and change a
“resource” to an “activity,” so I had to do extra work to add all those items again.
I then added manual grading items for those assignments. This would probably work for
instructors who do not weight grades. However, I DO weight grades so that I can use a
uniform scoring system of 1-100 for all assignments, so when I tried to set up the weights, I
ran into multiple problems. First, the instructions and help in Moodle are written in
language that the average instructor cannot understand—there were terms such as
“aborescence” that I was not familiar with. Also, the first option given is “simple weighted
mean of grades.” To me, this would mean that the items can be weighted; that is not the
case. The items are only weighted if the instructor assigns the points that way. The correct
choice for me turned out to be “weighted mean of grades.” I also then needed to use a
multiplicator on some items to get the weighting to be correct.
I did not find the gradebook to be at all intuitive; I really did need some training. For me,
that’s unusual. I like online technology and usually figure things out pretty quickly on my
I really like the flexibility in grading items. For some assignments, such as forums, it is so
easy to grade each item as I read it. It is MUCH easier than in Blackboard. And for items that
I am reading/grading offline, it is just as easy to enter the grades in the full gradebook. And
now that I understand more about setting up the gradebook, it won’t be as difficult for me
to set up next time. If I had viewed some good video tutorials beforehand, I think I would
have been fine and not had the problems I encountered.
I also did not find that BB9’s gradebook was easy or intuitive. It is not at all similar to BB6. I
had to really search around to figure out how to make an assignment show up as a choice to
enter in the gradebook, and each item has to be “assigned” to a student or group of
students. That does provide some flexibility, but the default setting means a lot more work
for me. It took me awhile to figure out the different options for graded items, and I wasted
time clicking on options until I finally discovered the “Evaluate” button in the “Content”
tool. I also found that to make the gradebook work correctly, I really would have had to plan
everything out in advance. When I was setting up the weights, BB would simply not allow
me to post some things and not others—it forces the instructor to make things add up to
100%. There is added flexibility in setting up graded columns in the gradebook, but I actually
prefer the BB6 gradebook to this one. It was easier in BB6 to add assignments, have them
show up in the gradebook, etc. (However, I don’t like the lack of flexibility in BB6, esp. the
inability to make the gradebook view be manageable—too many items shown at once!) I
also encountered some problems with the shell not saving some of my work, so I’m not
completely done looking at the tool. I have not tried to grade individual items yet.
BB9 does have some additional flexibility that we don’t have in BB6. Once I figured out how
to add a graded column, it was not that difficult to assign weights—that was actually easier
than in Moodle. Since I have not yet entered individual grades, I’m not able to make that
Overall, I still prefer Moodle to Blackboard 9. I think each system has flaws in the
gradebook, but I feel more confident that Moodle will solve some of those issues because it
is open source. It takes a long time for Blackboard to fix issues and that usually means
buying up to the next level to get the better version.
Writing Center Coordinator
Clackamas Community College
19600 S Molalla
Oregon City, OR 97045