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Assessments can be used to measure a student’s knowledge, skills, aptitudes or beliefs.  Blackboard has a variety of question formats available for surveys or tests.  However, it can be both inconvenient and tedious to craft the assessments while online, one question at a time in Blackboard.

Respondus is a third-party software package that works with Blackboard.  Faculty can now take existing tests in Microsoft Word or publisher-provided test banks, convert them into Blackboard formatted questions, and load them into their Blackboard class sites.  As Respondus supports up to 15 question types, including calculated and algorithmic formats, tests can now be drafted in a more user-friendly format than the ‘one-question-at-a-time” process in Blackboard.  Existing Blackboard assessments can be downloaded from Blackboard and converted into Word documents for paper-pencil testing or historical backup.

With Respondus, you can:

  • Create exams and assessments offline using a Windows interface
  • Supports up to 15 question types, including calculated and algorithmic formats.
  • Import questions from MS Word (including embedded images), rich-text, QTI and tab/comma delimited formats
  • Use the Exam Wizard to create an assessment in minutes
  • "Spell check" an entire exam file (includes dictionaries for American English, Canadian English, British English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Finnish, and a comprehensive medical dictionary)
  • Add tables, bulleted lists, font changes, and enhanced formatting (e.g. bold, italics) just like in a word processor
  • Insert mathematical and scientific symbols using the Respondus Equation Editor or MathType
  • Embed graphics, audio, and video without writing or viewing the underlying HTML
  • Resize graphics and convert them to JPEG format with one click
  • Add links to multimedia content on other servers with the Web Links tool
  • Create random sets of questions in seconds with a one-step wizard
  • Publish exams and assessments directly to an online course (media files are automatically uploaded)
  • A “batch publish” feature allows assessments and surveys to be published to multiple courses in a single step
  • Determine point values and exam settings offline
  • Print exams/surveys directly from Respondus, or save files to MS Word or rich-text format
  • Retrieve exams from Blackboard, complete with media files
  • Retrieve custom reports, such as student scores, summary statistics, and answer distributions
  • Download answer databases for quizzes or surveys and save them in an Excel-compatible format
  • Archive and restore exam/survey projects (including media content) with one click — ideal for providing a colleague with a ready-to-use exam
  • Quickly locate questions using keyword searches

Respondus also partners with many publishers, so that you can download and customize the test banks associated with specific textbooks.  The Respondus Test Bank Network allows you to search for and adopt publisher test banks.  This can be useful in building pools of questions for your assessments.
As a faculty member at VCU, you can download Respondus for free for both your home and office by:

  1. Logging into https://blackboard.vcu.edu
  2. Clicking on the “Downloads & Help” tab
  3. Under "My Faculty Downloads", clicking Respondus Download
  4. Click Download Respondus now
  5. Enter your eID and password (same as email and Blackboard)
    Note: The faculty member will receive an email containing the Installation Password required for activating the license. One or more prompts for your VCU eID and password should be expected for Download of the installer.
  6. Once downloaded, navigate to the folder on your PC where you downloaded the Respondus installer and double-click the executable program file to launch the installation wizard.
  7. Follow all prompts as directed until the Campus-wide License box appears. Enter the following:
    • Institution Name: Virginia Commonwealth University
    • Software Support: VCU Help desk - 828-2227 or help@vcu.edu
    • Installation Password: <Emailed to the user and provided on the Respondus Download Page>
Virginia Commonwealth University  |  Center for Teaching Excellence
Last updated: 09/22/2009
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