Faculty FAQs  

Typical Instructor Blackboard Issues/Questions

What if I cannot log in to Blackboard?

If you are able to access other USNA resources that require your network/email username and password to log in, please make sure you're logging in the right place and using your username and not your email address when logging in.

If you are still not able to log in to Blackboard then contact the Information Technology Service Center (ITSC) at 3-3500 or syshelp@usna.edu.  Be sure to tell them specifically what problems you're having.  A screenshot of what you're experiencing would be extremely helpful. 

If you aren't able to access other resources (e.g., USNA Gmail, USNA network, etc.), you may need to reset your USNA password.

How does a user get a Blackboard account if they are a new instructor?

In order to receive Blackboard access, users must request an account from the Information Technology Service Center (ITSC) at 3-3500 or syshelp@usna.edu.  It may take up to three hours for the Blackboard account to be created once the Blackboard service has been enabled in the User Repository.  If the user still doesn't have access after that time frame they should contact the ITSC for further assistance.

For USNA users (i.e., those with a @usna.edu email address), your Blackboard username and password is the same as your network/email login.

Blackboard Course Sites

What are the Blackboard user roles for course sites?

  • Instructor - The user has full access to all aspects of the course layout and content, including Gradebook access.
  • Teaching Assistant - The user can add course content and has access to the Gradebook.
  • Course Builder - The user can add course content, but does not have access to the Gradebook.
  • Student - The user can participate in course discussions, view content, submit assignments and view their own grades in the Gradebook.
  • Guest - The user can only view materials that have guest access enabled.

How do I enroll guest users or students who are auditing my course?

Every semester we get requests from instructors who would like guests to have access to their Blackboard course sites (e.g., syllabus, course policy, lectures, etc.) for various reasons (e.g., they are auditing a course, a guest speaker, or are interested in looking at the course materials). By default, the Course Documents and many other portions of course sites are viewable by any person who has access to Blackboard. Instructors have to explicitly override this default if they don't want their course materials viewable by guests. You can verify whether each menu item is guest accessible by hovering over the menu item, and clicking the downward pointing arrow.  If Deny Guests is one of the choices, then guests can access this item.  If Permit Guests is one of the choices, you need to click it to permit guests to see this menu item. The guest need only log in to Blackboard, click on the Courses tab and do a search for the course they are interested in. As a matter of fact, if guest access is enabled, an instructor can give the URL for their course site to anyone, regardless of whether they have a Blackboard login, and they will be able to access all course materials that have guest access enabled. The typical scenarios for determining the level of access needed to a course are as follows:

User only needs to be able to view course materials (e.g., announcements, course documents, syllabus, etc) - Assuming guest access is enabled for the course, the user only needs a valid Blackboard login or the URL of the course site (copy the web address (URL) from your browser when you are on your course's home page) to see the course materials. Even users who do not have a Blackboard account (e.g., those external to the Academy) can use the URL to see content that you've enabled guest access for. Users with a Blackboard login can do a search for your course within the Courses tab. The user can then bookmark the course site.

User is taking the course for a grade (e.g., will be submitting assignments and tests and needs to appear in your Gradebook) - In this case, ITSD would need to enroll the user as a Student within the course. Midshipmen who enroll in a course via MIDS will automatically be enrolled as Students in that course within Blackboard. If they are a faculty or staff member or want to be enrolled in the course unofficially, you must contact the Information Technology Service Center (ITSC) at syshelp@usna.edu, or call 410-293-3500 to have them enrolled in the course as a Student.

Why don't I see my course in the My Courses module?

If an instructor does not see their course in the My Courses module on the Home or Courses tabs, there are several possible reasons:

  • The instructor is not assigned as instructor for the course through MIDS. The instructor needs have their Department Chair assign them as the instructor via MIDS.
  • Their course may be hidden in the My Courses module. Please see How to Modify the My Courses Module for instructions to display course links in the module.

How can I access the survey site for my course?

Unlike students, survey coordinators are not automatically enrolled in the survey sites. Survey coordinators must specifically request to be enrolled in the course survey site as a Leader if they would like to create and administer surveys. The request should be made by emailing the Information Technology Service Center (ITSC) at syshelp@usna.edu or by calling (410) 293-3500. By default, survey sites are not made available to students despite the fact that they are automatically enrolled. Survey coordinators should include a request to make their survey sites available when they request their enrollment in the site from the ITSC. Both beginning and ending dates for availability should be specified in the request. However, survey coordinators do have control over the availability of individual surveys as outlined in the instructions below once the survey site has been made available.

How do I export or archive my Blackboard course sites?

To archive or export you courses please refer to the instructions to How to Archive Your Course or How to Export a Course or How to Import a Course.

How long will my course sites remain available?

ITSD stores approximately 18 months of content on the server.

When will my course sites be available for next semester?

Courses will be available to instructors two weeks prior to the start of a new semester. Instructors should contact the ITSC, 3-3500 or syshelp@usna.edu, to verify availability dates, as they may vary from semester to semester.

Students cannot see course sites until five days before the start of the semester. As an instructor, you also have the ability to decide when to make your Blackboard course available to students. To set your course availability go to the Control Panel, then navigate to the Course Options module. Click on the Settings link. Then click on the Course Availability link. You will then see an option Make This Course Available, click the radio button to Yes and then click Submit to save your changes.

Typical Blackboard Organization Issues/Questions

Blackboard organizations enable members of campus groups and organizations to communicate and collaborate online.

How do I request an organization site in Blackboard for my approved extracurricular activity (ECA)?

The Officer of Faculty representative for an approved ECA can request an organizational Blackboard site via MIDS.

  1. In the ECAs - Maintain module, select the organization that you are the Officer or Faculty representative for.
  2. Select Yes from the dropdown menu next to Request Blackboard Site? and click the Update button.
  3. The site will be automatically created and all of the ECA members will automatically be enrolled in the organization. Once it is created, the organization will show up in the My Organizations module on the Home or Courses tabs. Note: It may take up to two (2) hours for the Blackboard organizational site to be created.

How do I request a site in Blackboard for a non-ECA organization?

The request should be made by emailing the Information Technology Service Center (ITSC) at syshelp@usna.edu or by calling (410) 293-3500.

What features are available within an organizational site?

Features include: ability to post and share documents, announcements, discussion forums, live chat rooms, sending email, calendars and group web pages.

Why don't I see my organization listed in the Organization Content section of Blackboard's Content System?

Confirm you are enrolled in the organization by seeing if you have a link for that organization in the My Organizations module on the Home or Courses tab. If not enrolled correctly contact your Department Chair to get access.

Are there any restrictions regarding using special characters in file or assignment names?

The use of special characters (i.e. “#”, “+”. “!”) when saving files, can cause problems in Blackboard. If a document is uploaded and it contains a prohibited special character, an error message similar to the one below will be displayed. Blackboard recommends only using the the following characters for filenames: Characters a-z (upper or lower case), 0-9, period “.” and underscore “_” are acceptable filenames. All spaces will be converted to underscores in the name of the uploaded file.

Special Character Error

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Please see the Instructional Development Support Center website or contact Dr. Julie Zhu at 410-293-2508 for the training schedule.

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