Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Content Types that Can Be Added to your Course in Blackboard

Here are some of the special types of files that can be added to a content area in Blackboard. You add these by using the "Build Content" button in your Blackboard course/org site.  (Make sure Edit Mode at the upper right is ON to add content).

Item - Item is a general content type that can include text, links, media items, etc.  It is a good choice for posting almost any kind of content.

File - A link to a file in your Course Files area.

Link to Nook Study - A link to a book resource using our B&N integration.  More information here: http://goo.gl/tNVhw

Pearson's myLab / Mastering - A link to a Pearson Mylab / Mastering Resource.  More information here: http://goo.gl/4iOBM

Single SignUp List - Post a list that students can sign up for.  You can limit the number of students who can sign up, and have a wait-list of definable size.

Multiple SignUp Lists - Post a series of sign-up items, such as office hours or availability slots that a limited number of students can sign up for.

Audio - Post an audio file.

Image - Post a picture.

Video - Post a video.

Web Link (formerly "URL") - Post a URL link to a web resource.

Learning Module - Learning Modules enable the instructor to set a structured path for progressing through content within a course. The instructor may either allow students to access content non-linearly within a Learning Unit or enforce a sequential path. More information here.

Content Package (SCORM) - SCORM is a learning object format. If an instructor has downloaded or created learning object in SCORM format, she can add the content to Blackboard using this type. Here is information on the SCORM format.

Document Package - A Document Package is a .zip file containing a hierarchical structure of folders and files. When you add a Document Package to a content area in your course, the folder structure of the zip file will be preserved (reproduced) in Blackboard. More information on Document Packages here.

Content Folder - Create a folder into which you can post other Content Types

Blank Page - A large full page on which you can post any type of content including text, links, and media.


Turnitin Assignment - Found in the "Assessments" button.  Turnitin allows an instructor to add an assignment for which the students' submissions will be automatically checked for plagiarism using the Turnitin system. More information about Turnitin here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

How to prevent students from copying or printing tests in Blackboard

Important note: There is no 100% reliable way to prevent the copying or printing of any web page being displayed in a browser, on the Blackboard site or any other site, as it is always possible on any computer to print a copy of the screen, capture the window to the clipboard, or even take a digital photograph of the screen and print it. The script offered here may prevent the casual printer/copier from copying the text of a test, but it will not stop anyone who is purposefully determined to copy or print the content from doing so.

Please see KNOWN ISSUES at the bottom of this page (e.g. issue with hotspot questions).

If you would like to disable the ability of students to select/copy their online tests or to print their tests, follow these directions.

1. In an existing test, click Modify to modify the first question of the test

2. Click the expand arrow in the upper left hand corner of the text box

3. Click the html button

4. Copy the following javascript code and paste it at the bottom, after the text of the first question.

<script language="Javascript"
<style type="text/css">@media print {BODY {display:none}}</style>

5. Click Submit

6. Click Submit

Do not include this script in a question that is in a Pool, as it will cause problems. Only include this script in a created test.

What it Does
The script disables the ability of a user to select text, making it impossible to copy the question text. It also makes it so the body of the test can not be printed. If a student tries to print the test, they will only receive pages with Blackboard's top menu bar printed on them. Note: this script is somewhat old, and was only tested in previous versions of browsers, such as Internet Explorer Version 6, Netscape 7.1, and Mozilla Firefox 1.6. It is not guaranteed to work in new browsers (IE 7,8, Firefox 3.x, Google Chrome).

Notes / Recommendations
We recommend that you test this script each time you use it in a test. Preview the assessment, and try all of the functionality of the script. You should not be able to click and drag your mouse to select text, nor should the "select all" function work. If you try printing, you should not receive the body of the test itself on the printed page.

This script is not 100% foolproof and may not stop the more computer savvy from copying/printing your test.


1. The script will not allow students to cancel a test submission and return to the test questions. If a student clicks the Submit button on a test and then clicks Cancel to cancel the submission, the test is submitted anyway.

2. This script disables the students' ability to click on "hotspot" questions on tests. If you are using this script, students will not be able to answer any hotspot questions on your exam.


Thanks to the folks at Boise State University for this tip.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

How to Drop the Lowest Grades in the Gradebook

Note:  Blackboard version 9 has an automated way to drop lowest grades in the Grade Center.  This document is for version 7.x

Dropping the lowest grades in Blackboard version 7 involves using the "Running Total" and "Running Weighted Total" column options in the Blackboard Gradebook.

You can drop students' grades from the Blackboard gradebook by first directing Blackboard not to count ungraded items against the students, and then "ungrading" the marks you want not to count.

In this way you can effectively drop student's lowest grades on a series of quizzes, for example.

NOTE: Before carrying out these instructions, download a copy of your gradebook so you will have it is a reference later if you make unwanted changes. Click here for instructions.

Here's how to use the option to drop the lowest grades:

1. In the gradebook, click the "Total" column header
2. Click "Item Information"
3. Click the YES option next to "Exempt items that have not been graded"
4. Click Submit
5. Do the same steps (1-4) for the "Weighted Total" column in the gradebook as well.

Enabling those options for the Total and Weighted Total columns has the effect of dropping all "ungraded" entries in the Gradebook--the ones marked with hyphens (-). It also changes the column names to "Running Total" and "Running Weighted Total" in the Gradebook.

6. Now, to drop the lowest grades, clear the contents of the lowest grade for each student by clicking on the grade itself (in any particular cell of the gradebook table) and selecting View > Clear attempt.

Any cleared grade will appear as a hyphen (-) will no longer be counted against the student in the totals.

Important Note: If you do want an ungraded item (-) to count against a student, you must explicitly enter a zero (0) for the grade. Leaving it ungraded (-) will cause it not to be counted against the student.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Turn Off Pop-Up Blockers to use the Chat & Virtual Classroom

The Chat and Virtual Classroom function in Blackboard has been replaced by the Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing.  Blackboard Collaborate offers real-time collaboration between instructors and students with whiteboard, screen sharing, webcam, chat, and voice functions.

For more information, please see our Blackboard Collaborate information site.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Improvements in Blackboard 6.3

This page is here for historical/archival purposes, and lists the improvements which were made to Blackboard when it was upgraded to version 6.3 in early 2006. The current version of Blackboard is 7 and has many further improvements and changes beyond these which are listed at this link.

Improvements in Blackboard version 6.3

Multi-Language Support by Institution, Course and User
Institutions can run multiple languages on the same system. To support cross-border education as well as foreign language courses, Instructors can set the language of the course independently from the language setting of the overall system. Institutions can offer the Blackboard Academic Suite in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, and Portuguese. The entire system can be set in a specific language, or a language may be offered as a preference for users.(more details)

Adaptive Release
Course content does not always apply to all users in the course. Using Adaptive Release of content, Instructors can display content to certain users for a limited period of time, or only after users meet (or fail to meet) predetermined requirements. Some content might be applicable to all users in the course, while other content should be audience-specific. Adaptive Release allows an Instructor to create custom learning paths through course content and activities. Content items, discussions, assessments, assignments, or other activities can be released to Students based on a set of criteria including: date and time, specific users, group membership, institution role, grades or attempts on a particular test or assignment, or Review Status of another item in the course.(more details)

Review Status
Outcomes based tracking is an important feature to most Blackboard clients. Today, Instructors can track item hits on a user-by-user basis, but Students have no automated way of explicitly notifying Instructors when they review an item. If Review is enabled for a content item, users see a Mark Reviewed icon from the course view. When users have completed their review of the item, they click the Mark Reviewed button. The item then displays a Reviewed icon. The Instructor can view progress from the Performance Dashboard or the User Progress page in the Control Panel.(more details)

Syllabus Builder
The Syllabus Builder is a new content item in courses and organizations. It guides the Instructor through a very simple process for building a syllabus without knowledge of HTML. The tool automatically generates lesson shells and the Instructor either chooses a pre-formatted style or creates a new one.(more details)

SCORM 2004
A number of changes to the Content Player have been implemented in response to key developments in the marketplace and client requests. These changes include:

· Support for SCORM 2004, the newest specification for SCORM packages
· Name Change: The Blackboard Content Player is now the Open Standards Content Player
· Updated Gradebook Item functionality to allow Instructors to view user attempt data (such as response to questions and time spent) from the Modify Grade page
· Users may select a package stored in the Content Collection if Copy file from Content Collection (also new in Application Pack 3) is available
· Updated look and feel to the Content Player
· Faster load times for the content

Application Pack 3 also includes a new feature called simple sequencing that branches to content based on user interaction. In addition, Application Pack 3 includes improvements on Gradebook interaction and user Tracking Data related to SCORM. Instructors can view tracked user information such as completion status and length of time an item was viewed.(more details)

Performance Dashboard
The Performance Dashboard is a course tool that allows Instructors to see key information and outcomes for all course users. It displays the last time users logged in, their course role, Adaptive Release criteria, Review Status for content items, and grades.(more details)

Advanced Assessment Questions
When creating Assessments in the Blackboard Learning System, Instructors may choose from ten additional question types, including: Calculated Questions, Numeric Response Questions, File Response Questions, Hot Spot Questions, Multiple Fill-in-the-Blank Questions, Jumbled Sentence Questions, Opinion Scale Questions, Short Response Questions, Either / Or Questions, and Quiz Bowl Questions. (Calculated Formula Questions, Calculated Numeric Response Questions, File Response Questions, Hot Spot Questions, Fill in Multiple Blank Questions, Jumbled Sentence Questions, Opinion Scale/Likert Questions, Short Answer Questions, Either/Or Questions, Quiz Bowl Questions)

Gradebook Null Option
Current Gradebook calculations for Total and Weighted Total include items that have not been taken or graded. A new option to exclude untaken or ungraded items when calculating the Total and Weighted Total appears in Application Pack 3. The Running Total and Running Weighted Total columns display Student performance only on completed items.Calculating Total and Weighted Total in the Gradebook ) Assessment Question Completion Status Students may skip questions that they may wish to come back to in a question-by-question assessment. This feature allows Students to clearly identify which questions they have actually completed from the ones that they have skipped as they progress through the assessment.(more details)

Randomize Multiple Choice Answers
Instructors have the option to randomize the answers in multiple choice questions. The answers are randomized for each assessment attempt, which helps prevent student cheating (settings under CONTROL PANEL - TEST MANAGER - TEST CANVAS - TEST CREATION SETTINGS)

Advanced Course Menu
Two views of the Course Menu are now available to users; the Quick View (the original menu design) and the Detail View. The Detail View lets users expand and collapse the Course Menu, and displays a clickable link to each item in the course. If allowed by the Instructor, users may toggle between these two views. In addition, commonly used tools are separated from the Course Menu to make them easier to find and use. The Course Map has been completely redesigned for Application Pack 3. It displays new icons based on the item or tool, and shows only the content available to the current user.(more details)