Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blackboard Email and Blackboard Messages

Blackboard has two separate messaging systems: (1) an internal messaging system called "Course Messages", and (2) an external messaging system called "Email".

If you use Tools > Course Messages or Course Tools > Course Messages, then the messages you send stay within Blackboard. You can send and receive Messages, and the students can check their messages and reply within Blackboard using Tools > Course Messages. You will find folders in Messages similar to the ones you would see in an email client (Inbox, Sent). 

If you use Tools > Send Email or Course Tools > Send Email function in Blackboard, then the email will go out of Blackboard and into the Internet email system (to the students' email). Email is external to Blackboard, so when students reply, their replies will go to your email inbox (Outlook, Northeastern webmail, Lotus Notes, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.). Email replies will not be sent back into Blackboard.  Email delivery via the Internet may not be instantaneous.  In the event of delay, the Internet will try to re-send messages for several days until it is delivered.

The Email and Messages functions in Blackboard are separate (messages do not travel between them). This means that if you send an "Email" from Blackboard using the Email function, it is not retained inside Blackboard anywhere. If you send a "Message", it does not go outside of Blackboard.

We hope this clarifies the Blackboard messaging system. Thanks for using Blackboard!


Friday, October 07, 2011

How to Allow One Student More Time on a Timed Test/Quiz in Blackboard

You may want to allow a student to take longer than the time limit for a timed Test or Quiz in your Blackboard course.

To accomplish this, set a time limit for the test for everyone, and then use the "Test Availability Exceptions" section of the Test Options to add a timer exception for a particular student.

Step 1:  Add the user for whom you want to make an exception--

Step 2:  Set the timer--

About the "Auto Submit" option

When you set a time limit for a test, the "Auto Submit" option forces the test to submit when time runs out.  This is typically a good idea, but if you have some students in the class who may need more time, you may want to leave the "Auto Submit" is set to off.  This will allow a student to submit a test past the time limit, but will give you as the instructor the option to penalize the student's grade for the overtime.

If a student submits the test past the time limit, instead of auto-grading the test, Blackboard will instead put an exclamation mark in the Grade Center for that student where the grade would normally be.

Click the "drop-down arrow" in the cell to view the attempt.

Click the "Test Information" link. Blackboard will report how many minutes over the time limit the student submitted the test.

This gives the instructor an opportunity to change the grade based on the time the student went over. Some instructors choose to deduct one point per minute over, or similar scheme.

Making a test available for just one student

A similar problem is the case that you want to go back and make a previous Test / Quiz available to just one student to take over again. To do so, make the test link available for all students, but set the date restrictions so the students cannot access the test:

Then go back and use the "Test Availabilty Exceptions" section to make the test available for a range of dates that includes the present, just the student you want to take it:

Now no one can access the test except for the one student you want to take it.

You may also modify the test options for that test to include requiring a password to access it. Then set the test to available again for everyone, and only give the one student the password (more detailed instructions for how to do this are here).

We hope this information is helpful.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

How to Add a Textbook to your Course in Blackboard

There are several ways to add a link to your textbook in Blackboard.  Here is a way that automatically creates a link to the Northeastern University bookstore.

1.  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.

2.  Make sure the Textbook tool is turned on in your course by clicking Customization > Tool Availability on the left and making sure the boxes are checked for the Barnes and Noble Textbook tool.

3.  Click the "Tools" section in the Course Menu on the left.

4.  Click the "Barnes and Noble Textbook Tool"

5.  Use the drop-down to search for your textbook by Title, Author, or ISBN number.  Type your search text in the Keyword field and click the "Go" button.

6.  Locate your book and click the "Select" button.

7.  The book is now added to your course.  The students can access the book by navigating to Tools > Textbooks List.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Blackboard Service Pack 7

Service Pack 7 for Blackboard includes bug fixes and improvements. Some of the features enabled by this Service Pack are:

- Interactive Rubrics (rubrics sharing) to enable consistent and fair grading for students
- Automatic Test/Quiz submission for a timed assessment when time is up
- Course Files permissions adhere to content availability settings (security improvement)
- Support for the "Common Cartridge 1.1" standard for exporting and importing course content
- Improved McGraw-Hill content integration
- Grade Center improvements, improvement to "Needs Grading" feature
- Improved tutorials for educators
- SCORM content player improvements
- Site performance improvements

Please see Blackboard's own site which details some of the changes in this Service Pack:

For more information, please contact the Help Desk at 617.373.HELP (x4357)


Monday, September 12, 2011

How to Create a Sign-Up Sheet in Blackboard using Google Calendar

UPDATE:  Google Calendar has discontinued its sign-up block function.  The new way to do this in Blackboard is here: http://blackboardtips.blogspot.com/2013/11/how-to-use-sign-up-tool-in-blackboard.html

The following post is outdated

You may want to create a sign-up sheet for Office Hours in your Blackboard course.

Here's how to do it using Google Calendar in a way that is convenient for students to use.

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Note: To sign up for an office hours slot, students must have a Google Account (this is how the Office Hours calendar knows the names of the students in the slots without having to have them explicitly type their names). All students at Northeastern University already have Google Accounts via the G-Apps service (more information on G-Apps is here).

How to Change the Entry Point for your Blackboard Course

The Entry Point is the first page students see when they click into your course site.

Here's a video showing how to change to Entry Point to a different Content Area:

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

How to Upload Many Files and Folders to Blackboard At Once

If you have a lot of files and folders and you want to upload all of them to Blackboard at once, you can use a "Document Package".

A Document Package is a .zip file containing a structure of folders and files to be uploaded.

When you add a Document Package to a content area in your course, the folder structure and contents of the zip file will be uploaded to your course site in Blackboard and unpackaged into separate files and folders, preserving the folder hierarchy contained in the .zip file.

You can add a Document Package to a content area in Blackboard as follows:

1. Create a .zip file on your computer containing the files and folders you want to upload to Blackboard. If your zip file contains folders as well as files, make sure you use the "preserve folder information" option when creating your .zip file.

2. Log on to Blackboard and enter your course.

3. Make sure Edit Mode is on so you can add content to your course.

4. Click into the content area into which you want to upload the contents of your .zip file (e.g. the "Course Materials" section).

5. Select "Document Package" from the "Build Content" button.

6. Click the Browse button, browse to the .zip file you have prepared, and click Open.

7. Choose options and click the Submit button.

The file's complete contents will be uploaded to your Blackboard course and unpackaged to separate items in the Content Area you selected.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

How Do Students Get Enrolled Courses in Blackboard?

Here is how students gain access to course sites on the NEU Blackboard site at blackboard.neu.edu

Northeastern University students are enrolled automatically in course sites in Blackboard based on their enrollments in the Northeastern University Registrar's system, which is known as "Banner".

Students register for courses on the myNEU portal at myneu.neu.edu (CPS/NU Online students may register here)

If you have not activated your myNEU account yet, click the "How do I get a myNEU username and password?" link on the myNEU site. You choose your password during the activation process.

To Register for courses log into the myNEU site and click the "Self Service" tab:

Then click the "Course Registration" link:

Adding Courses
The Blackboard site automatically enrolls students in courses from the Registrar within 2 hours of official registration. However, only courses for which the instructor has made the course site available in Blackboard will appear for students in Blackboard. If the instructor does not use Blackboard for his/her course, students will not see the course site in Blackboard. Students: if you have a course which you believe should be available, please contact your instructor, who can make the Blackboard course site available to you and the other students enrolled in the course.
Dropping Courses

To drop a course, use the "My Schedule" link on the Self-Service tab on the myNEU site. Any course you drop via the myNEU portal / Registrar's Office will be removed from the Blackboard site within 2 hours.

To see a complete list of your registered courses at any time, use the "My Schedule" link on the Self-Service tab on the myNEU site.

CPS / NU Online students: if you have CPS / NUOL courses, they will be found on the NU Online Blackboard site at nuonline.neu.edu. The NU Online site operates independently of the NEU Blackboard site, however updates to the NU Online site from the Registrar's office happen at a similar interval.

Instructors:  If you are an instructor of a Blackboard course and are interested in adding someone to your course, please see this article.

For support for NEU Blackboard, please contact the Help Desk at 617.373.4357 or help@neu.edu.

For support for NU Online Blackboard, please contact the 24/7 NU Online Support Desk at 855-836-3520.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Connect Blackboard to McGraw-Hill Connect

This is how to connect your Blackboard course to the McGraw-Hill Connect service.

1.  If you have not done so already, establish a McGraw-Hill Connect account at http://connect.mcgraw-hill.com

2.  Go to Blackboard and navigate to your course site.

3.  Click the "Tools" area on the left side of your course (if you do not have a Tools area, click here to see how to create one):

4.  Click the McGraw-Hill "Higher Education" link:

5.  Click the "Pair Course with a Connect Section" link:

6.  Follow the instructions that appear on McGraw-Hill's site to finish linking to your course.

7.  After your course is linked, McGraw-Hill content may be added to your course using these buttons (click play button):

(video link: http://screencast.com/t/oLwU5CBnD877)
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 Build Content >> McGraw-Hill Library
Create Assessment >> McGraw-Hill Assignment
Assign Textbook >> McGraw-Hill Create


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How to use Respondus Lockdown Browser for a Test in Blackboard

Respondus LockDown Browser is a tool that locks down the testing environment within Blackboard to prevent students from browsing to other sites during an exam.  There is more information on the features of LockDown Browser here:  http://www.respondus.com/products/lockdown.shtml

To require the use of Respondus Lockdown Browser for an existing Test in your Blackboard course:

1.  First make sure you have created a Test under Course Tools > Tests, Surveys, and Pools.  After you have an existing Test in place, you can require the students to have Lockdown Browser in order to take the test.

2.  Click the Course Tools > Respondus Lockdown Browser link on the left side of your course.

3.  Locate the Test you want to lock down, click the drop-down menu icon to the left of the test name, then select "Modify Settings"

4.  Select "Require Respondus LockDown Browser for this exam".  You may optionally require a password that the students will need to know in order to take the test (you must distribute the password to the students via your preferred method).

Click Save and Close (on the right)

5.  In order to take the test, the students will first need to download and install the Respondus Lockdown Browser client on their computers.  Students may download the client via this link:

After downloading and installing the LockDown Browser client, students should navigate to your exam in Blackboard and click on the link to take the test as they normally would.

For more information:

Click for Instructor Quickstart Guide

Click for Student Quickstart Guide


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Trouble Playing Windows Media Video in your Browser

If you are having trouble playing Windows Media format in Internet Explorer, try downloading and installing the latest version of Windows Media Player here:  

If you are having trouble playing WMV format in your Firefox or Chrome browser, try downloading the Windows Media Player plugin as follows:

If a page simply links to Windows media files (e.g. .asf or .asx files), you might not see a prompt to download the Windows Media Player plug-in. In that case, follow these instructions to get the plug-in:

Windows instructions
  1. Visit http://port25.technet.com/pages/windows-media-player-firefox-plugin-download.aspx
  2. Click Download Now.
  3. Click Save for the file in the downloads bar to confirm that you want to download the file.
  4. When the download completes, open the set-up file.
  5. Click Run to start the Setup Wizard. Follow the instructions in the wizard to finish installing the plugin.
  6. Restart Google Chrome / Mozilla Firefox
Mac instructions
  1. Visit http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/products/windows-media-player/wmcomponents
  2. Click Free download to install Flip4Mac.
  3. Click Save for the file in the downloads bar to confirm that you want to download the file. 
  4. Mount the .dmg file.
  5. Click Flip4Mac WMV.mpkg.
  6. Follow the instructions on the screen to finish installing Flip4Mac.
  7. Restart Google Chrome / Mozilla Firefox
  8. Open the Plug-ins page by visiting chrome://plugins in the address bar.
  9. Click Enable for Flip4Mac. If you have trouble enabling the plug-in, click Details on the top right corner of the page and click Enable again.

We hope this is helpful.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

How to Edit Notification Settings

You may edit your notification settings to tell Blackboard that you want or do not want to receive notifications via email, dashboard, and mobile.

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 Notifications page, under Bulk Notification Settings, click Courses I am taking or Courses I am teaching.

You will see the Change Settings page. 

  1. Under Select Course, select the courses for which you want to change notification settings by clicking the arrow to move them to the right-side box.
  2. Under Settings, click to select which settings you wish sent to your Blackboard Dashboard, your E-mail, or your Mobile.

  3. If you do not want a notification sent, click to clear the checkbox.
  4. When you are finished, click Submit.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Monday, March 07, 2011

Student Home Pages in Blackboard

Older versions of Blackboard (versions 7.x and previous) had a "Home Page" tool where students could post some information about themselves including a picture for the instructor and other students.

The newer version of Blackboard (9.x +) has retired the "Home Page" tool.  Instructors can now use the "Blog" tool to achieve a similar result.  To create a place for students to post information about themselves, the instructor can make a Blog, and all students can post some information about themselves on it.

Below there is a link to a video that shows three things:

1.  Creating a Content area on the left called "Home Pages" (this is optional; you can put the Blog into any section of your course)
2.  Creating a Blog called "Home Page" to simulate the title of the previous feature
3.  After turning Edit Mode off at the top right, the video shows how a student would access the blog and post something about him/herself.

The students can upload pictures of themselves using the "Avatar" feature under "Personal Information".  Please see this page for instructions for how to upload an avatar/profile picture to Blackboard.  This should be noted in the "Home Page" Blog instructions (see the video), so students will know how to do it.

We hope this information is helpful for you and your students.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How to add Pictures to Test Questions in Blackboard

You can add pictures to your online test questions in Blackboard.

To do so, go to the Test Manager and edit or create a test.  Enable the pictures in questions option under "Creation Settings".  Then create a question and browse to your computer to find the image to add.

The image must be appropriately sized, as Blackboard will not automatically resize the image.  We recommend using images no more than 640 pixels wide.

Here is a video demonstrating how to add pictures/photos to online tests in Blackboard 9.

This video has audio, so please turn on the sound on your computer:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Uploading Grades to the Grade Center from a File

Uploading Grades from External Sources

Instructors can perform off-line grading in an application like Microsoft Excel and then upload grades into the Blackboard Grade Center from a file. Instructors can upload grades from a Comma-separated Value (.csv) file or a Tab-delimited (.txt) file. The data in the file must be formatted in a specific way to upload correctly to the Grade Center.

Formatting External Files for Uploading

To match the data in the file to existing with Grade Center data, unique identifiers are necessary for each Student and for each column in the file. The unique identifier used for each Student is the Student's Username. The unique identifier for each column is a Column ID number. Column ID numbers are generated by Blackboard and appear in the "Quick Column Information" option in the column header drop-down menu for each column in the Grade Center. Columns in the file you intend to upload should match the column IDs in the Grade Center.  Columns in the file that do not have Column ID numbers will create new columns in the Grade Center.

Each data file uploaded to the Grade Center requires a header row with one record per subsequent line. The format of the data file uploaded to the Grade Center is determined by the type of delimiter that is used to parse the data into separate columns. Data files can be tab delimited with a file extension of .txt, or comma delimited with a file extension of .csv. Files with the extension of .xls or .xlsx are generally Excel-formatted files which cannot be uploaded to Blackboard directly.

Tip: Before uploading your file, open it in a text editor such as Notepad, Wordpad, or TextEdit in order to confirm that the file contains readable text and not binary Excel-formatted data which looks unreadable when opened in a simple text editor.

Format Details:

Data in each column of comma-delimited files must be contained within straight quotation marks ( " " ). Data in each column of tab-delimited files does not require a quote character.

Important Tip: To obtain a file that is formatted correctly for uploading, first download full Grade Center file and open it in a text editor or spreadsheet application. Existing columns will have Column ID numbers that must be included in future uploads. For instructions on how to download the Grade Center see Downloading Grades from the Grade Center.

Tip: Blackboard recommends using tab-delimited files for uploading onto the Grade Center to avoid having to use quote characters and because tab-delimited files often open more elegantly in Microsoft Excel.

In the sample files below, columns that already exist in the Grade Center have a Column ID number as part of the column name. The column Attendance does not have a Column ID so it will be created as a new column in the Grade Center. There is also no corresponding data for the new column, represented by a double set of quotation marks in the .csv file. Entries for attendance can be added manually from the Grade Center, or can be uploaded from another file.

Tab Delimited .txt File Sample:

User Name Last Name First Name Homework|188 Project|190 Final|191 Attendance
Aanchor Anchor Anne 10 25 5
Bbutterworth Butterworth Bob 7 20 12
Ccharter Charter Chuck 3 23 2
Ddoong Doong Dan 9 17 19

Comma Delimited .csv File Sample:

"User Name","Last Name","First Name","Homework|188","Mid-term|189","Project|190","Final|191","Attendance"

Uploading the File to the Grade Center

To upload a file to the Grade Center, follow these steps:

1. Click the Work Offline option on the right side of the Grade Center page, and click Upload.

2. Click Browse to search for the file.

3. Select the Delimiter Type: Comma, Tab, or Auto. Auto will attempt to automatically detect the delimiter used in the selected file.

4. Click Submit to upload the selected file.

5. Review the list of data from the file to be uploaded. Use the check boxes to de-select any data to be excluded from the upload. Using this method, it is possible to upload only the desired columns of data from the file.

6. Review the Data Preview Column to ensure the correct data is being uploaded. Data that appears incorrect can denote an improperly formatted file. The Data Preview will only show a sample of the data in each column in the file.

Note: Large files take significant time to process and a warning message will be displayed for any files that need extra time to process. To avoid long processing times, break up large files into separate uploads.

7. Click Submit to confirm and upload the file.

Information about uploading "Letter Grades" to Blackboard:

The grades in a Grade Center upload file may be numeric or "letter" grades with the following caveats:

1. Blackboard accepts letter grades only in upper case (e.g. "A, B, C" not "a, b, c"). If the grades in the upload file are in lower case, Blackboard will reject them.

2. When uploading Letter grades to an existing Grade Center column, the existing Grade Center column must be set to Display "Letter" grades.

If you try to upload letter grades to a column which is currently set to display numbers or percentages, Blackboard will reject the letter grades and leave the column unchanged.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

How to Upload Many Pictures to Blackboard at Once

This page describes a method for uploading a .zip file containing picture files. If you would like to upload a collection of a combination of different kinds of files and folders (including picture files) all at once to Blackboard, please also see How To Upload Many Files and Folders to Blackboard at Once.

You can upload many pictures to your Blackboard course site at one time by using the a "package file" - a .zip file on your computer which contains the pictures which Blackboard can "unzip" for you.

Here's a video demonstrating how:

Direct link to video: http://screencast.com/t/jz1HeludO

(there is audio in this video so make sure your sound is enabled)
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Friday, January 21, 2011

A Quicker Way to Add Users to Groups in Blackboard

One way to speed adding students to Groups in Blackboard is to use the letters on your keyboard to scroll down to the person whom you want to enroll.

Here is a demonstration video:

(this video has audio, so turn on your computer's sound):
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We hope this tip is helpful.