Project Description

Gradebook Improvements

In order to better meet the needs of the teachers using Blackbaud Learning Management System (LMS), our product team took on this project to improve the functionality and flexibility of the gradebook.

  • Enhancements

  • User Research

  • Interactive Prototype

Project Overview

– Gradebook prototype

– Gradebook setup prototype


The Blackbaud LMS gradebook is a powerful tool for teachers to record and access student grades and grading information, such as comments, missing indicators, and exempt statuses. It is a vital part of the teacher’s relationship with the LMS, and because of this this user group will oftentimes communicate to us places they see for improvement or feature requests.

This project began with requests, and kicked off with some research to find out how teachers were using the gradebook today, how we might make the gradebook’s functionality better serve the teachers’ goals, and how we could position it better for future growth.


Our goal was to improve the gradebook at its core. To not just add on a layer of requested features, but to learn from our teachers, and create a better gradebook.


The current gradebook is built on older technology, and this project did not allow for a full rebuild. This meant that our work had to take into account the challenges of legacy code, while delivering the best design possible.

Research & Design Process

Blackbaud Community

We began the discovery process by reviewing and organizing all recent community feedback involving the LMS Gradebook. This provided us with data to drive our effort, and a list of people with who we could conduct research.

User Research & Iteration

Through user research, competitive research, and a lit review of current trends in edtech, we identified several areas in which we believed we could improve the LMS gradebook. The design & research loop helped us refine the design into a final prototype.

Responsive Design

One major area for improvement was to make the gradebook responsive, as before this project it was only optimized for desktop viewing. To that end, and with our technical constraints in mind, I designed and tested mobile views for small and large devices.


– Gradebook icons and their key

More Information at a Glance

The Blackbaud LMS gradebook has always allowed teachers to enter supplementary grade information (days late, exempt status, comment, etc.), but teachers had to click on a cell to see a specific student’s information on a specific assignment. This took more time than teachers expected, and it did not allow them to view multiple students’ status at once.

We addressed this issue by visualizing information in the gradebook cells using a series of icons. This way, a teacher can quickly glance at the full gradebook and get a better understanding of their class’s grades. We also allowed them to enter this extra info using keyboard shortcuts, saving the time it took to enter through popups.

– Assignment performance summary

Class Performance Summary

In order to give teachers a more complete view of their class’s academic performance, we added performance summary information for each assignment. This allows teachers to see grading and submission data in one spot.

– Official notes in the gradebook

Communicate to student from the gradebook

One request we heard from teachers was the ability to communicate with students and parents from the gradebook. This would allow them to ask questions or share information while in the context of reviewing grades.

To do this, we added functionality that allows teachers to send either an in-system message or an email to students, parents, or both without leaving the gradebook.

– Bulk-add comments

Bulk-add Grades and Comments

Teachers will quite often enter the same grade or comments for multiple students. Traditionally, this has been done through a series of copies and pastes.

As a part of this project, we gave teachers the ability to bulk-add grades and comments to either all students for an assignment or to selected students.