Thursday, October 23, 2014

How to Sync your Blackboard Calendar to your Outlook Web Mail / Office365 Calendar

You can subscribe to your Blackboard calendar from within Office 365 / Outlook Web Mail.  Below is a video that shows how.  Scroll down for written instructions.

Once you subscribe to your Blackboard calendar from within Outlook, new events in Blackboard will automatically sync to Outlook within an hour or so of being added to your Blackboard courses.

Link to video:
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1.  Go to Blackboard, click the "Home" tab, then click "Calendar"
2.  Use the "Get External Calendar Link" button and copy the link to the clipboard
3.  Go to Office365 at  Log in and click the "Calendar" option.
4.  Right-click the "Other Calendars" link and select "Open Calendar".
5.  Paste the link from Blackboard into the Internet Calendar box and click "Open"

Your Blackboard calendar will be automatically synced to Outlook/Office365 going forward.

How to Sync your Blackboard Calendar to your Google Calendar

You can subscribe to your Blackboard calendar from within Google Calendar.  Below is a video that shows how.  Scroll down for written instructions.

Once you subscribe to your Blackboard calendar from within Google, new events in Blackboard will automatically sync to Google Calendar within an hour or so of being added to your Blackboard courses.

Link to video:
Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.


1.  Go to Blackboard, click the "Home" tab, then click "Calendar"
2.  Use the "Get External Calendar Link" button and copy the link to the clipboard
3.  Go to Google Calendar at
4.  Next to "Other Calendars", click the dropdown and select "Add by URL"
5.  Paste the link from Blackboard into the URL box and click "Add Calendar"

Your Blackboard calendar will be automatically synced to Google going forward.

How to Post a Link to a Google Spreadsheet into your Blackboard Course

Google Sheets can be used to allow students in a Blackboard course to edit a spreadsheet collaboratively.

Here's a video showing how to create and post the link in Blackboard:

Link to video:
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Friday, April 11, 2014

Creating a Non-anonymous Survey in Blackboard

Surveys in Blackboard are anonymous, which means the instructor cannot see which specific student answered a particular way in the survey results.

If you need to create a survey for which you need to attribute specific answers to specific students (a non-anonymous survey), the way to do it in Blackboard is to create a Test and call it a "survey".

To create a non-anonymous survey (Test):

1. Select Course Tools > Tests, Surveys, and Pools from the course management control panel.

2. Select Tests, then Build Test

3. Provide a name, description and student instructions for the non-anonymous survey.  We suggest including the word "Survey" in the name so students will know this is not a test.

4. Next, from the Question Settings page set the Default point value to 0 because this is a survey, not a test, so the questions so have no numeric value.

5. For this example survey, we created one question as an Opinion Scale / Likert question:

6. Since the non-anonymous survey is created as a test, you must select a correct answer.  In this example, we select the "Not Applicable" answer as the correct answer.  Since this is a survey, there really is no correct answer, so it does not matter which answer you designate as correct.

7. To deploy the non anonymous survey, set the Make Link Available option to "Yes" and in the "Show test results and feedback to students" section, uncheck the "score per question" checkbox and set only the "Submitted" check box as shown to ensure that the student does not see which answer you designated as the "correct" answer you selected when creating the test:

8. If the survey is already deployed, you can Edit the test options by clicking the drop-down menu to the right of the test link:

9. Here is a video of the entire process.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

How to print a Blackboard Test Using the Respondus 4.0 Test Creator application

Respondus 4.0 provides an efficient user friendly to print Blackboard Tests.

First download Respondus 4.0 Test Creator.

To print from Respondus 4.0 Test Creator

Retrieval & Reports tab - Select Retrieve questions

Select and click next

Choose a Course and an Exam and Enter a name for the file

Select Download questions and save

From the Preview & Publish tab, Select print options, then select either "Save to File" (Microsoft Word Document) or "Send to Printer".

You have the option to save the Exam with the Answer Key.  Printing without the answer key provides a quick backup plan if Blackboard is not available for online testing.

Here's a video of the process and instructions for downloading Respondus 4.0 Test Creator.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Respondus 4.0 Test Creator Application - Download Instructions

The download process for the Respondus 4.0 Test Creator application is a two step process.  The two step install involves first downloading the installer followed by downloading the Update (download installer first).

Note that it is essential to download both the installer and the update, failing to download both will not permit you to use the Respondus 4.0 Test Creator to Create Exams, Print Exams from Blackboard or use the Respondus Test Bank of questions from various publishers.

The Respondus software is available via the myNeu "Software Downloads" section.
  1. Go to and login using your myNEU fac/staff credentials
  2. Select the "Services and Links" tab
  3. Scroll down and select "Software Downloads" on the left:
  4. Select "Respondus" from the list and select continue: (The Respondus 4.0 Test creator is a Windows only application)
  5. Scroll down and select "Accept"
  6. You should download both the "Installer" and the "Update" as separate actions:
  7. In the download instructions that appear with the download, note the Organization name and the Install Code.  You will need to enter them later when you install the software.
  8. Once the install completes, it is necessary to install the update as well.
Here is a video of the Respondus 4.0 Test Creator Application download process:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

How to Empty your Browser Cache

To fix a problem with Blackboard, you may need to empty your browser cache.

Here are instructions for various browsers:

Firefox for Windows

  1. If the "History" menu does not appear at the top, press the "ALT" key on your keyboard.
  2. From the History (or the "Tools") menu, select "Clear Recent History".
  3. From the "Time Range to clear" drop-down, choose "Everything"
  4. Under "Details" check all the boxes.  Click "Clear Now"  

Google Chrome

  1. Open Google Chrome and click the Chrome menu () upper-right.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Click "Show Advanced Settings..."
  4. Click the "Clear browsing data..." button.
  5. Select "the beginning of time" from the drop-down
  6. Check the following boxes, and click "Clear browsing data":

Internet Explorer versions 9, 10, 11  (If you are running version 7 or 8, please upgrade to the latest version before using Blackboard)

  1. Push the ALT key on the keyboard to reveal the menus at the top.
  2. From the Tools menu, select Internet Options...
  3. Choose the General tab.
  4. Under Browsing history, click Delete...  (here: )
  5. Next to "Temporary Internet Files", click Delete files...
  6. Check the following boxes:  and click the Delete button
  7. Click Close and/or OK to exit.
  8. Make sure you are not in "Compatibility View" mode (see information here)

Internet Explorer 6, 7, 8 (not recommended for Blackboard, please update browser)

Firefox for Macintosh

  1. Current firefox: 
    1. From the Firefox menu, select History...
    2. From the sheet that drops down, select Clear Recent History.  Select Everything from the "Time Range to Clear" drop down menu.  Select the check boxes for "Browsing & Download History", "Forms & Search History", "Cookies", "Cache" then Select "Clear Now".
  2. Older versions of Firefox: 
    1. From the Firefox menu, select Preferences...
    2. From the sheet that drops down, select Privacy. In 2.0, click Clear Now. In 1.5, click Clear Cache Now. In 1.0, next to Cache, click the Clear button, and then OK.

Safari for Macintosh (not recommended for use with Blackboard)

  1. From the Safari menu, select Reset Safari...
  2. When prompted, click Reset to confirm that you want to reset the browser.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Give Audio Feedback on an Assignment in Blackboard Using an MP3 Recorder

You may want to record your own voice for a student to listen to as feedback for a submitted assignment in Blackboard.  Here is how to use an MP3 Recorder website to make this easy.

The steps involved are:

1.  Navigate to the student's attempt in the Grade Center of your course.

2.  Use to record your commentary / feedback.

3.  Add the audio file you recorded to the feedback section for the assignment attempt.

Here is a video showing the entire process:

(Alternative link to high-resolution video here)

Note:  if you would like to include a screen-capture with your audio feedback, try this alternative method using Jing.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

How to Use Jing to Give Assignment Feedback in Blackboard

Jing is a screen-capture application which will allow you to record your screen and voice and give you a link to the recording.  You can use this link to give your students feedback on their assignments in Blackboard.

1.  Navigate to the student's attempt in the Grade Center of your course.

2.  Use Jing to record your commentary.

3.  Add the Jing link to the feedback section for the attempt grade.

Here is a video showing the entire process:

(if this video doesn't work, try this alternative link)

The Jing application may be downloaded from

Note:  if you would like to give your students audio-only feedback, try this the alternative method here.

Monday, February 03, 2014

How to Download Your Students' Email Addresses

As an instructor of a Blackboard course, you may download or view a list of your students' email addresses. This can be useful if you want to email all of your students from outside of Blackboard, or if you want to copy and paste a list of your student email addresses into Google Docs in order to share a document.

1.  Navigate to your Blackboard course site, and at the lower left click Course Tools > Student Email Addresses.

2.  Click "Spreadsheet" to download a CSV file containing all of your students' email addresses.  Or click "HTML Table" to view the email addresses in a table within your browser.

The best way to copy all of your student email addresses at once is to use the "Spreadsheet" option, open the downloaded file in Microsoft Excel, select all of the cells containing the email addresses at once and then copy and paste.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How To Enroll Someone Into Your Blackboard Course

Students and Instructors are enrolled automatically into Blackboard.  Any update made with the Registrar's office will be automatically updated in Blackboard over time.

***To add an auditing student to your course, please contact the Registrar's Office at  Any auditing student who is added to a course in the Registrar's system will be automatically added in Blackboard.

To add a Teaching Assistant, Assistant, guest lecturer/unofficial co-instructor, Course Builder, Organization Builder, or Grader into your course/organization:

1.  Go into your course/org site in Blackboard and at the lower left click Users and Groups > Users.

2.  Click Enroll User > Find Users to Enroll.

3.  Click the “Browse” button and search for the person by Last Name or Email.  

If you have trouble finding the person, make sure you are not searching by username.  If a person has a drop in the course, you will not be able to enroll them.  In that case, contact

4.  Select the Role you want the person to have from the drop-down (e.g. "Teaching Assistant") and click Submit.  Do not add users using the "student" role.  Audit students must be added by the Registrar's office (see note above).

That's it.  You may see a list of who is enrolled in the course by clicking Users and Groups > Users > GO

Saturday, January 25, 2014

How to Diagnose Chrome Extension Issues

Chrome should work well with Blackboard, but if you have trouble it is possible that you have a Chrome Extension in Chrome which is causing the issue.

To diagnose this, try using the Blackboard site in Chrome's "Incognito Mode", which turns off most of the extensions you may have.

To do so, click the Chrome menu at the upper-right and select "New incognito window"

In the incognito window, go to the site and use Blackboard normally.  If Blackboard works better for you in the incognito window, it means that there is a Chrome extension which is interfering with Blackboard under normal circumstances.

To figure out which Chrome Extension is causing the problem, go back to the regular (non-incognito) Chrome window, click the menu and select Tools > Extensions

Uncheck the "enabled" boxes for all of your extensions to disable them, and then check one at the time, going back to Blackboard each time to figure out which one is causing the difficulty.

Using this method you will be able to figure out which of your extensions is the offender.  To remove the bad extension, click the trashcan icon to the right.

We hope this information is helpful.  Thanks for using Blackboard.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Creating Smart Views in Blackboard

Blackboard supports Grade Center smart views to limit the number of rows or columns shown in your grade center.

1.  To show specific columns in a grade center view, first go to Grade Center > Full Grade Center in your Blackboard course, and click the Manage > Column Organization option.  Move all grade center columns from the default location: "Shown in All Grade Center Views" to the section below "Not in a Grading Period", being careful to maintain your column order.

2. Next, verify your columns are categorized, if not use this to associate each column with a category:

3. Now we are ready to create the smart view as shown (Manage > Smart Views)

4. To limit the number of columns in your grade center smart view, choose to show one category of columns, select "Category and Status View items by their category and status" as shown, select the category from the Categories drop down and select the users to display or set to all users:

5. You may also limit the number of rows displayed based on criteria such as 1. Group affiliation, 2. Performance on an assessment, 3. individual students, or 4. a custom set of criteria as shown:

6. Setting the smart view as a favorite will show it as a Grade Center submenu option:

7.  Your new Smart View will display under "Grade Center" at the lower left of your course site.  Clicking the Smart View will display only the Columns in the Grade Center that match the Smart View criteria.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Blackboard Service Pack 14 (SP14)

Update:  Having trouble seeing the tabs in Blackboard since the upgrade? Make sure "Compatibility View" in Internet Explorer is turned OFF.  Click here for instructions.

Service Pack 14 includes the new features in Service Packs 12-14.  New features coming with the upgrade:


The achievements tool allows instructors to designate criteria for issuing rewards to students in the form of both badges and certificates. Students can see which rewards they’ve earned and what is required of them to receive additional rewards, providing insight into learning progression toward defined competencies.  More Information | Video

Accessibility Improvements

This Service Pack introduces an innovation that improves Learn’s navigation experience for all users, but especially sighted keyboard-only users, through page header and landmark aggregation. There are also enhancements to Test Availability Exceptions and Content Editor Math Formulas which are helpful for accessibility. More Information | Video


New calendar replaces the old calendar tool. Faculty and students can view institution level, course and personal events in a single calendar view.  More Information | Video

Content Editor Math Formulas

This Service Pack brings a new editor that is based on JavaScript. This removes dependence on Java, enabling full math-editing capabilities on platforms that cannot run java in browsers including iOS. The new math editor also supports the editing and display of LaTeX formulas.  More Information | Picture

Course Menu Enhancement

Viewing the folder structure of the course now always opens in a new window, to ensure users have the space needed to read the expanded contents. More Information | Picture

Grade Center Improvements

Blackboard has made several improvements to grading and Grade Center.  (1) My Grades Ordering & Design Update, (2) Define “Score Attempts Using” setting from the “Options” page, (3) Test total points adjustment, (4) Grading Schemas greater than 100%. More Information | Picture

Groups Management

The Groups Management Building Block provides the ability to (1) Easily see which students are in which groups (2) Easily see and modify group memberships (3) Avatars are now available to distinguish among users (4) Choose and manage membership for groups sets with an improved workflow (5) Import and export groups and group memberships (6) Sort columns, perform bulk actions for deleting groups, and create Grade Center smart views for one or more groups on the All Groups page (7) Optionally, manage tool availability for all groups on the All Groups page.  More Information | Video

Inline Grading

For interactive tools and assignments, you can view, provide comments, and grade student-submitted items without leaving the tool page.  More Information | Video

Restrict Tests by Location

Restricts a test so it can only be taken from a set range of machines (by IP addresses).  This feature will require setting up the IP address ranges with the Blackboard Administrators group before the test.  More Information

Retention Center

The Retention Center is an instructor-only tool that enables teachers to give focused attention to students who need it. It replaces the Early Warning System feature with easy workflows, while retaining all existing Early Warning System data and rules. From the Retention Center, you can communicate with struggling students and help them take immediate action for improvement.  More Information | Video

Test and Survey Options

(1) Test Availability Exceptions:  new settings have been added to the Test/Survey Options page, available after the test or survey is added to a content area.  The new settings allow instructors to select one or more groups of students and make a number of exceptions to the already established availability settings. Instructors can use exceptions to provide an accommodation to a disabled student, or provide accommodations for technology and language differences.  (2) Show Test Results and Feedback to Students:  after they complete a test, results and feedback are available to students. By setting up rules, instructors can set the release of progressive feedback to keep test results secure and prevent cheating.  More Information

Date Management

After you have copied a course, speed up the transition of old dates to new one relevant for the new course using Date Management. From Date Management you can adjust availability dates, due dates, and adaptive release dates within a course. You can choose to update the dates automatically or manually from one convenient location.  More Information | Video

Course Message Notifications

Course messages are private and secure text-based communication that occurs within a course and among course members. Although similar to email, you must be logged into a course to read and send course messages.  Before Service Pack (SP14), the only way to know if you had any new course messages was to constantly log in to your course and check. In SP14, course messages are part of the notifications framework. Anyone enrolled in a course can receive notification that they have new messages from the Updates area in My Blackboard.  More Information | Video


The Discussions building block that was incorporated into this Service Pack changes the discussion board user interface in two primary ways:  (1) The thread detail page has been thoroughly redesigned while maintaining all of its current functionality.(2) Instructors now can require students to first post to a forum before they can see other students’ posts.  More Information | Picture

If you have any questions about the service pack upgrade, please contact or phone 617.373.HELP

Monday, December 02, 2013

Turn Off Compatibility Mode in Internet Explorer

Compatibility View is a mode that makes Internet Explorer render pages as if it were an older version of itself (version 7 specifically).  You will have trouble viewing parts of the Blackboard website in this mode.  Here's how to make sure "Compatibility View" is turned OFF for the Blackboard site:

1.  In Internet Explorer, go to the Blackboard website.

2.  Press and release the ALT key on your keyboard to display the "Tools" menu at the very top of the browser.  Click "Tools > Compatibility View Settings":

3.  Make sure the Blackboard site is not in the list of sites you've added to Compatibility View (if it is, remove it).  Make sure "Display all websites in Compatibility View" not checked.  Also, make sure the "Display intranet sites in Compatibility View" option is not checked:

4.  Click Close.  Then click the "refresh" icon at the top of Internet Explorer (or press F5 on your keyboard to refresh)

That's it.  Compatibility View has been turned off and the Blackboard site should now render properly.

How to schedule due date reminders

You may edit your notification settings to tell Blackboard that you want to receive due date
reminder email messages

Edit your notification settings:

  1. Login to Blackboard. 
  2. At the very top-right of the page, click your name.
  3. Click "Settings", then "Edit Notification Settings" from the drop-down.

  1. On the Edit Notification Settings page, click Edit General Settings

You will see the General Settings page.

Under General Settings: Courses

Set "Send Due Date Reminders" to Yes and set the number of days before the due date to send the
reminder.  You will now receive a reminder message for each due date event for which you have 
elected to receive notifications (refer to the "How to Edit Notification Settings" page)

    How to Schedule Notification Emails

    You may edit your notification settings to tell Blackboard that you want to receive email 
    notifications as either a daily digest or as individual messages

    Edit your notification settings:

    1. Login to Blackboard. 
    2. At the very top-right of the page, click your name.
    3. Click "Settings", then "Edit Notification Settings" from the drop-down.

    1. On the Edit Notification Settings page, click Edit General Settings

    You will see the General Settings page.

    Under General Settings: Courses

    Select Individual Messages to receive a message for each event for which you have elected to
    receive notifications (refer to the "How to Edit Notification Settings" page)

    Or Select Daily Email Digest to receive a daily digest of all notifications from either your courses
    or your organizations (communities).

    Tuesday, November 26, 2013

    How to Merge Courses in Blackboard

    If you are teaching several different course sections of the same course, or two cross-listed courses, you may want to combine your students into one course site in Blackboard.  You can combine courses in Blackboard by using the "Merge Course Enrollments" tool, which will copy (merge) your students from one of your sections into another.

    Here's how:

    1. Click into the main course which you want to use for teaching.  This will be called the "parent" course.  Click Course Tools > Merge Course Enrollments at the bottom left

    2.  Click "Merge Section Enrollments Into this Course".  On this screen, you may optionally change the name of the parent course to indicate that will be a combined course, for example you could change the name to "History 101 - Sections 01+02 - Fall 2014"

    3.  Select the child section(s) you want to merge into the parent course.  You can select more than one child section by using the CTRL key (Command key on a Mac) on the keyboard while clicking.

    4.  Click Submit

    All the students will be copied from the child course into the parent course automatically and will be maintained going forward.

    In the Grade Center of the parent (main) course, there will be a column showing the original section the student was in before the merge as a reference.

    If you should ever find you need to un-merge a course after merging it, to do so go to "Merge Course Enrollments" in the parent course again and select "Remove a section merged into this course (Un-merge)".  The students from the child course will be unenrolled from the parent course, but will remain in the child course.


    - The merge function merges in the students from the child courses but does not merge or copy course material.  You will need to post the course material you wish to distribute in the main parent course as you normally would, or use the course copy function to copy material from one course site to another as desired.

    - The merge function does not copy student grades, assignment submissions, or tests from one course to another.  It only copies the student enrollments and maintains them going forward.

    How to Use the Sign-up Tool in Blackboard

    Blackboard has a sign-up tool that can be used to schedule slots for students to sign up for within a course.  You can use this tool to create a sign-up list for an activity, to create multiple lists to use as slots for office hours, paper topics, or any other shared resource.

    1.  Click here to view a video which shows how to use the Sign-up tool to create a sign-up list.

    After you have watched the first video, here is a second one showing how to create multiple sign-up lists to be used as "slots" (for example, for office hours, or for exam slots).

    2.  Click here to view a video on how to use the Sign-up tool to create multiple lists to use as sign-up slots.

    We hope these videos are helpful.

    Monday, October 28, 2013

    How to Embed a Video in your Blackboard Course the Easy Way

    1.  Go to and upload the video as "Unlisted" so the video will not be public

    2.  Enter your course site in Blackboard and make sure Edit Mode is set to ON at the top-right so you can add content to your course

    3.  Go into a content area such as "Course Material" and click the "Build Content > Item" option

    4.  Give the item a title and in the text editor click the video button in the toolbar (it looks like a small webcam with a red dot):

    5.  Click the "Browse" tab.  Sign into YouTube, locate the video that you uploaded in step 1, and click the "insert" button

    6.  Change the Width and Height to 640 x 480 and click the Insert button

    7.  Scroll down and click the Submit button in Blackboard

    That's it.  Your video is posted.  To see what this looks like from your students' point of view, try the Student View option.

    Wednesday, October 09, 2013

    Blackboard Online Collaboration

    There are several options for online collaborate in Blackboard.  Here are a few of them.

    Blackboard Collaborate is a real-time Webex-like live conferencing system built into Blackboard. The system can handle hundreds of students at once with multiple moderators (instructors). Features include live video and audio, a whiteboard feature, chat, and application/web sharing. Blackboard Collaborate is located in the Tools section of your Blackboard course.
    • Information Technology Services overview page 
    • Collaborate documentation
    • Collaborate overview using Collaborate to demonstrate the tool (open the downloaded jnlp file)
    • First make sure you have the latest version of Java installed

    Blackboard IM is a live text-based Chat which you can use with your students. Blackboard IM is located in the Tools section of your Blackboard course.

    Blackboard Discussion Boards are a well-understood traditional asynchronous way to post content and have your students communicate with the instructor and each other.

    Tegrity: To record a prepared video lecture which you can offer to the students as part of your online classroom experience, please use the Tegrity Class Capture feature, located in your Blackboard course.

    Google Hangouts/Google On Air

    For casual, non-moderated live video collaborate, we can recommend "Google Hangouts On Air". This service allows you to broadcast video and audio to many people with whiteboard and document collaboration.  This service is not affiliated with Northeastern University, but you can invite the students from your Blackboard course to your Hangout by getting their email addresses from your Blackboard course site.

    Tuesday, October 08, 2013

    How to Upload Questions from a File into a Question Pool in Blackboard

    To create a pool of test questions in blackboard, you will need to begin with an empty pool.
    From Control Panel -> Organizational Tools -> Tests, Surveys and Pools, click "Pools" and then
    "Build Pool":

    Once you have built the pool, you are ready to import test questions.   Questions must follow the Blackboard question and answer format here:

    An example of this format can be seen in this video, which also shows how to save as a tab delimited file from Excel:

    If you are creating your test questions in a text editor, you can simply use the tab key between fields and then save the file as text (.txt).

    If you are working in Excel, you must specify the file type “tab delimited text.”     

    To import your test questions to your question pool, from Control Panel -> Course Tools -> Tests, Surveys and Pools, click "Pools."   Click the arrow next to the name of your pool to display the options menu, and choose "Edit."
    In the next screen, choose "Upload Questions."  Browse to your question file and select the file, then assign a default number of points per question.  This number can be changed later.  Click "Submit" to complete the upload:

    Friday, September 20, 2013

    How to Use the Student View in Blackboard

    Blackboard instructors can view a course exactly as a student sees it in order to verify the availability of items to students, try an assessment from a student's point of view, or to see what the course looks like as a student generally.

    To view a course from the point of view of a student, select "Go To Student View" from the top-right of your course site.

    This will create a demo student called "Demo User" in your course.  You will become the demo student and you will be able to click around your course and see what it is like from the point of view of a student.

    When you are ready to return to the instructor's view of the course, click "Return to Teacher View" at the top-right.

    If you submitted an assignment or took a test while using the Student View, when you return to Instructor view, you will find the results in the Grade Center under the student name "User, Demo" (Demo User).  This Demo User is temporary and will be deleted automatically within 24 hours.

    We hope you find the Student View useful in your course.