Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How to Embed a Vimeo Video in Blackboard

You may want to post a video in your Blackboard course using the Vimeo.com streaming service for several reasons, including:

1. You can post much longer videos using files that may normally be too large to upload to Blackboard successfully.
2. You can password protect your video and prevent students from downloading it
3. Videos embedded from Vimeo do not take up any quota space in your Blackboard course, no matter how long the video is.

Here's how to embed a Vimeo.com video in your Blackboard course:

[Update: This video below shows Blackboard version 7.x. You can embed videos in an almost identical way in Blackboard version 9.x as well. Just use Edit Mode=ON, and add an item to the course using the "Build Content" button. Then switching to HTML mode as shown in the video is exactly the same. Here's a video example of the process in Blackboard 9.1: http://j.mp/bbx4Ds]

Direct link to video: http://screencast.com/t/YTdmNDU4Z

(this video has audio, please adjust your sound settings)

Friday, December 11, 2009

How to Prevent Students from Printing Blackboard Documents (Using PDF)

Note: there isn't a 100% reliable way to prevent determined students from printing something you post on any website (the Blackboard site is no different). It is always possible for a student to use a screen-copier to copy what is displayed on the screen and then print it, or even to take a picture of the screen with a digital camera and then print it. However...

It is possible to create a PDF file that has a restriction on printing, which will stop the majority of students from being able to print, and will stop the casual user from being able to print. After you create a print-restricted PDF, you post it on Blackboard as you would any other file.

Here are two ways to create a PDF that is print-restricted:

1. Use PDFCreator
2. Using Adobe Acrobat

We hope this information is helpful.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How to create a sign-up sheet in Blackboard

This article shows how to create a sign-up sheet using a Wiki in Blackboard. Please also see this article about the alternative of creating a sign-up sheet using the "Sign Up" tool in Blackboard.

An instructor may want to create a sign-up sheet to allow students to sign-up for office-hour slots, or to sign up for topics for an assignment, or for meetings with an advisor or conference seats, etc.

The best way to accomplish this is to add a Wiki to your course. A Wiki is a page or set of pages that can be viewed and edited/filled-out by students.

Create a sign-up sheet on the first page of the Wiki with visible slots that the students can sign up for. The students can then come and sign their names in the slots by editing the Wiki page.

Example of the content of the Wiki:

Sign up for Office Hours on this page. To sign up, select “edit” on the right, and add your name to only one slot. Slots are taken on a first-come-first serve basis:

3:00pm _____________________________

4:00pm _____________________________

5:00pm _____________________________

6:00pm _____________________________

Here are instructions for how to set up a Wiki. You will want to create a page that all students in the course have access to edit and name it "Sign up sheet" or something similar:


For more information on how to use Wikis in Blackboard courses, please contact the Edtech Center at 617.373.3157

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How to take Attendance using Blackboard

This post is outdated and refers to an older version of Blackboard.  It remains here for historical record only.  For an updated method of taking attendance in Blackboard, see:  https://www.ats.neu.edu/qwickly-attendance

To take attendance using Blackboard, create an "Attendance" column in the gradebook for each class session for which you'd like to take attendance.

  • Make the maximum point value 1.
  • Set the gradebook to display the item as complete/incomplete (instead of as a "score").
  • Set the column not to be included in the grade total calculations.
To take attendance:
  1. Click the column heading in the Gradebook, then click "Item Grade List".
  2. Give each student who attends class a "1". Leave absentees blank.
Here's a video showing how to set up attendance columns in the Gradebook and how to take attendance:
Link to video: http://screencast.com/t/PvionzpXR

(This video includes audio. Please turn up the sound on your computer)
Tip: As in the video, when you set up the column, leave "make item available to users" set to YES, so students can view their own attendance record in the course. Students are only able to view their own attendance records (not the attendance of others).

Monday, October 12, 2009

In Internet Explorer, do not use "Compatibility View" for Blackboard

UPDATE:  Blackboard no longer recommends using Compatibility View for the Blackboard site.  Instead, please make sure Compatibility View is turned OFF for the Blackboard site as follows:


More information from Microsoft on IE8 Compatibility View: http://bit.ly/ie8compatibility

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Add myFiles links To Your Blackboard Course

The best way to post large files in your course in Blackboard is to take advantage of our myFiles service. This has several advantages including faster download of files from campus, automatic update of files in Blackboard when they are updated in myFiles, and myFiles links will not take up any quota in your Blackboard course.
Here's the easy way to add myFiles links to your Blackboard course:

1.  First toggle Edit Mode at the upper right of your course to "on"

2.  Click a content area in your course menu on the left in which you would like to add the myFiles link, such as the "Course Materials" section.

3. Choose "Add myFiles Links" from the "Add Interactive Tool" button.

4. Blackboard will display the files and folders in myFiles. Check the boxes next to the files you want to add links to. You can even check an entire folder to add links to all the files. Click the "Make Links" button to make the links in Blackboard.

5. Click OK. You're done.

Blackboard will take care of making sure that the students in your course have access to the files in myFiles by setting up "ticketing" in myfiles to allow for access.

Here's a video tutorial demonstrating how to add myFiles links to Blackboard.  Note, this video is a bit outdated (it is for the old Blackboard version 7), but the concept is the same.  Follow exact directions above.

(both video and audio, so make sure your sound is enabled)
(Link to video: http://screencast.com/t/dgE2EdFGpI)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Blackboard Video Tutorials

We have an assortment of video tutorials to help you get familiar with parts of the Blackboard system you may not have used before, or to help shore up your knowledge of a feature which you may have tried.

Check out the video tutorials here:


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How to minimize and maximize modules on the Home tab of Blackboard

It is possible to collapse and re-open modules (boxes) on the Home tab of Blackboard such as the "My Courses" module by clicking the small box-shaped icon at the upper-right (next to the pencil-shaped icon):

Here is a video demonstrating how to collapse and maximize a module:

We hope this information is helpful.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Guidelines for posting Multimedia files to Blackboard

Here are some recommendations that can help in making your multimedia files easier for students to download and view in Blackboard.

Multimedia Guidelines

In an effort to maximize access to dynamic media content (images, video, audio, and Flash files) by students, we recommend that instructors posting multimedia files to a web page or Blackboard course adhere to these file size guidelines.

The diversity of internet connection types among students makes it important to pay attention to the size of files when uploading content. For example, a student using a broadband connection would be able to download a 10MB file in approximately 1 minute or less, whereas a student using a 56K modem connection (there still are some out there) would spend about 30 minutes downloading the same file.


Most images should only be around 60k-100k; however, larger sizes are acceptable when larger files are required (e.g., graphic design courses); in such special cases, the image size should be 500k or less. The best image formats are JPEG (.jpg) and GIF (.gif)

PowerPoint slide shows can be added to a Blackboard site but should be limited to 10 mb. Care should be taken to compress all contained images (to keep file size small). In addition, PPT should be provided in an alternative format, such as PDF. When creating PDF files, it is recommended that the print setting be set for 3 slides per page. This will reduce the number of pages, should a student wish to print the PDF document. The best PowerPoint format is PowerPoint 97-2003 (.PPT) rather than the newer PowerPoint 2007 (.PPTX) format, which might require students using older versions of Microsoft Office to download a special viewer.

Another option for Slide Shows is to upload your file to the online streaming slide show service Slide Share. You can use the service to add more features to your slide show, such as audio, music, narration, and then embed it in your Blackboard course site using Slide Share's embedding feature.


Please see this related article on how to embed video in Blackboard.

Video can be very tricky; it is very easy to create a video file that is too large to be delivered on the web. Consider that your students may not have access to a broadband connection. Some students are still on dial-up connections, making it impossible to access large video files uploaded to Blackboard.

These are the most acceptable video formats: Quicktime (.MOV), Windows Media Video (.WMV), MPEG-4 (.MP4), Flash Video (. SWF or .FLV), and RealMedia (.RM).

Audio-Video Interleave (.AVI) container file format may also work, but is not recommended, as it is not optimized for the web, and can require "codec" software to view that students may need to download separately (such as the Divx codec and others). Certain newer formats, such as MKV (.mkv) will almost always require the students to download a separate viewer program to watch.

You can also put your video on Blackboard by uploading it to a streaming video site and then "embedding" the video right in your Blackboard course site. It is always better to stream the video from sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Picasaweb than to upload the file just to Blackboard. If you choose to upload a video files directly into Blackboard, that file should be no larger than 100MB. Larger files should be uploaded to a streaming video site and then embedded in Blackboard (this makes them appear to be contained in Blackboard, but they are actually streamed from the streaming video site).


Audio files uploaded to Blackboard should be no larger than 5MB. Acceptable formats are .MP3, .M4A, .M4B, .AAC, and .WMA. The best way to post an audio file to Blackboard is to make it a Podcast episode - that way the player for the audio is shown right in Blackboard and the student does not have to download the audio before listening to it.

Note: .WAV is a legacy format for which the file size is too large and is therefore not recommended.


For Flash files (.SWF), size is not typically an issue. Flash is intended for web delivery, and takes download time into consideration. Flash file size should be less than 5MB.