Tip of the Week Archive  

Student Tips


Important Note:

When naming files, keep filenames short.
Use letters, numbers and underscores only.

Do Not Use symbols or special characters in the filename - e.g., # or @.

Doing so may cause you to receive an error when attempting to upload.

 

Faculty Tips


Showing/Hiding Courses in the My Courses Module

Previous course links can be hidden, but not removed, from the My Courses module on the Home tab by clicking the small pencil gear icon icon on the top right corner of the My Courses module. Setting courses to hidden eliminates confusion between instances of the same course in different semesters. For further information please consult How to Modify the My Courses Module.


Importing Course Data from a Previous Course

Export Course and Import Package allow a user to export data from a course package that may no longer be accessible on the current system into a current course. The content (e.g., button styles and content availability options) will maintain the exported course's original formatting and content settings. For further information, please consult How to Export or Import a Course.


Assignment Tool

Please note that Blackboard has removed the Digital Dropbox feature from future versions, so you should seriously consider using the Assignment Tool instead. For further information about the Assignment Tool please refer to How to Use the Assignment Tool.


Course Copy

The Copy Course Materials into an Existing Course feature doesn't always copy all requested materials into a course, or will copy materials into a course but not keep the same content settings as the previous course. A workaround for this would be to Export your course content and then select the course you want to copy your content into and Import that content in. This will import your course content and apply all saved settings to the content. For directions on exporting and importing course content please refer to  How to Export or Import a Course.


Breadcrumb Trail

The breadcrumb trail provides links back to each previous page the user navigated through to get to the current page (i.e., the parent pages of the current one). Breadcrumbs provide a trail for the user to navigate back to a previous page or even the course home page. An example of a breadcrumb trail is shown below:
breadcrumb trail
Note that you can click on the Communications link to return to the Communications menu page or the course title link to return to the course home page.


Post important news items as announcements in Blackboard and simultaneously email to all students

The Announcement tool is ideal for facilitating communication to students about time-sensitive material such as reminders about upcoming due dates, changes in the syllabus, and corrections or clarifications of material. When needing to communicate such reminders or important news items, post as a new announcement in Blackboard and select the option to also Email this announcement to all course users to simultaneously send the announcement to all course users via email.


Include course links when notifying students of new course resources or assignments

If you are posting an announcement notifying students of availability of a new resource or assignment posted in the course, include a course link to that particular item so students can access with just one click when reading the announcement.


Collect threads for viewing offline

For instances when it is preferred to read student contributions to threads in a discussion board when you are not connected to Blackboard, select all discussion threads in a forum and then click the Collect button to create a collection of all posts in a single page that can either be printed or copied and pasted into a Word file and saved for offline viewing.


Editing the Course Menu

Remove menu buttons that you do not use. Leaving buttons in your menu that are not used may cause your students unnecessary confusion. You can accomplish this by going the drop down menu on the right side of your menu item link in the left menu of your course, and clicking the Delete link. From this screen you can then decide content in the menu item, the item link, or both.


Back up Gradebook

Make sure you back up your grade center so that you have a record should it get deleted by accident. You can back up the grade center by clicking on the Download Grades button. You can also keep an Excel file of your Grade Center on your computer and import with the Upload Grades button.
backup gradebook button


Creating Forums for Groups

When you create a group of students in your course you can enable a special Group Discussion Board, available only to a group's members. It is separate from the regular course Discussion Board, which is available to all course members. Members of the group can create and manage their own forums.


Removing Content Areas Deletes Content

Please back up or save content materials inside your course's content area before deleting. Deleting the content area will not save the material placed into the content area.


Duplicate Questions in the Blackboard Test, Pool, or Survey Manager

The Blackboard Test, Pool or Survey Managers do not check for duplicate questions. Please review your question pools or tests to make sure questions are not duplicated.


Review Status

Review Status provides a way for students to track their progress through sets of resources on the course site: Go to the relevant content area in your course site: Select from the right drop down menu of the item the link Set Review Status to save settings.


Testing Exams Assigned for Students in Blackboard

As an instructor you can click on your deployed exams and surveys links in Blackboard and take the exams as a student would. This way an instructor can check how their exams and surveys are formatted and displayed and see if the exam or survey options and displays need to be modified further. When taking an exam as an instructor it will not record your attempt in the Grade Center.


Changing an Assignment Title Will Not Affect the Gradebook Entry

When you change the title to an assignment, exam or survey in Blackboard it will not affect the initial Grade Center column under its original title name. If you want to create a new column with the new title or the related assignment or exam you would need to create a new assignment, delete the exam and recreate the exam link in the content system with the new title. You can also rename the column in the Grade Center.


Logging out of Blackboard

If you are on a public computer, it's important to log out of Blackboard and the network - otherwise, the next user who comes along will be able to log into Blackboard as you. Click the Logout button on the Blackboard banner on the top of the page to log out.


Pasting from Microsoft Word into Blackboard

Students have experienced problems viewing text that has been pasted directly from Microsoft Word into Blackboard. This practice can result in the text not being viewable. The cause of this issue is hidden formatting codes that are included when using the copy/paste feature from Word. These unneeded codes must be removed prior to pasting into Blackboard. Please use the following procedure to prevent issues when pasting text from Microsoft Word.

  1. In Microsoft Word, highlight the desired text and copy the text.
  2. Open Notepad (PC: Start > All Programs > Accessories > Notepad) or TextEdit (Mac) and paste your copied text into the text editor. This action will copy just the text and remove the unneeded formatting code.
  3. In Notepad, highlight the entire text again (or push CTRL+A on the keyboard) and copy (CTRL +C on the keyboard).
  4. Go to the content area to add content, Discussion Board post or comments section if submitting notes for an assignment in Blackboard and paste the text in.
  5. Format your text using Blackboard's own Text Box Editor settings. These settings are similar to text editing in Microsoft Word. For instance, you will be able to bold, highlight, change the color, italicize or underline your text.
    formatting box
  6. Submit your document and check for unusual characters. If one does appear, modify the item and correct the character. Again, submit the item and check your work.

How to take Attendance using Blackboard

To take attendance using Blackboard, create a column with an appropriate title in the Grade Center for each class session for which you'd like to take attendance.

  1. Make the maximum point value 1.
  2. Set the Grade Center 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 title in the Gradebook, then click the Item Grade List link.
  2. Give each student who attends class a "1". Leave absentees blank.

Using the Force Completion Setting When Creating A Course In Blackboard

Force Completion

When creating a test in your course under the Test Availability options, an option to select Force Completion is listed. This options allows the instructor to specify that the test needs to be completed within the specified attempt. Checking this option will deny students access to be able to edit any saved answers and not allow them to resubmit their answers if they save their answers and leave the test during the attempt.



Freezing Grade Center Columns

In Blackboard’s Grade Center, you can freeze the leftmost columns in place so they do not move while horizontally scrolling through the Grade Center. For example, the columns containing the students first and last names are frozen by default.

To Freeze Columns:

  1. Log into your course and ensure Edit Mode is ON.
  2. Click on the Grade Center area of the Control Panel then make sure Full Grade Center is selected as the Current View.
  3. On the Grade Center page, click on the Manage button and then select Column Organization from the dropdown menu.
  4. Drag the row related to the column you would like to freeze above the dark gray bar that states. Everything above this bar is a frozen column.
  5. Click Submit.

To Unfreeze Columns:

  1. Log into your course and ensure Edit Mode is ON.
  2. Repeat Steps 2-3 above.
  3. Drag the row related to the column you would like to unfreeze below the dark gray bar that states. Everything above this bar is a frozen column.
  4. Click Submit.

Emailing Students from Grade Center

Did you know you can email students right from the Grade Center in Blackboard?  In addition to grades, the Grade Center shows the last date that students logged in and whether they have submitted assignments or not.  It is easy to send an email to students who have low grades or are late with assignments by selecting the check box next to their names in the Grade Center and choosing Email Selected Users.


Automatic Regrading

This feature will save you time by automating revisions to an online assessment. With Automated Regrading, faculty can drop, give full credit, change point value, or change which answer is marked correct. The system will re-grade submitted assessments gracefully and provide notification about what has changed.


Negative Point Grading

Negative marking allows instructors to apply negative point values for wrong answers on test questions. This allows them to prevent (by penalty) guessing or the selection of egregiously wrong answers.


Course-to-Course Navigation

When in a course, click the Action Link next to the course title to jump from course to course to access the same page/tool. For example, if you are in one course’s Grade Center, you can jump to the next course’s Grade Center easily to complete your grading tasks. As a student, you can jump from one course’s announcement page to another.


 Embedding YouTube Videos in Your Blackboard Course

You can embed YouTube videos in your Blackboard course. It’s recommended that you only embed videos that you have created and uploaded to YouTube to avoid violation of copyright terms.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open the YouTube page containing the video you would like to use, and copy the Embed code.

    This is located in the video information underneath the video.
    If you click in the Embed button, it will highlight all of the code for you to copy.
  2. Go to the Blackboard Control Panel, and click on the Content Area where you would like to place the video.
  3. Click the Create Item button.
  4. Make sure the Visual Editor for your text box is on. Click the Toggle HTML Source Mode button.

    It looks like this: <>
  5. Paste the Embed code into the Blackboard text editor.

    If you toggle your view back to normal mode by clicking on the <> button again, the content area will appear to be blank but the video will appear when you look at it in the Content Area.
  6. Fill in any other information as you normally would then click Submit.

Customizable Course Themes

In addition to the new default theme, there are over 50 other professionally designed themes to choose from. You can match your course to your subject, color preference, or current mood. To change the theme of a course, go to the Control Panel or the Quick Setup guide and select your theme from the drop down menu. 


Student Tips


Showing/Hiding Courses in the My Courses Module

Previous course links can be hidden, but not removed, from the My Courses module on the Home tab by clicking the small gear icon pencil icon on the top right corner of the My Courses module. Setting courses to hidden eliminates confusion between instances of the same course in different semesters. For further information please consult How to Modify the My Courses Module.


Check Your Grades

If your instructor is posting grades in Blackboard, here is how you can access them:

  1. From your Blackboard home page:
    1. Locate the Tools box (on the left)
    2. Click the My Grades link
    3. Select the course for which you wish to view grades
  2. From within a course:
    1. Go into the course web site
    2. Locate the menu box (on the left)
    3. Click on the My Grades link

Breadcrumb Trail

The breadcrumb trail provides links back to each previous page the user navigated through to get to the current page (i.e., the parent pages of the current one). Breadcrumbs provide a trail for the user to navigate back to a previous page or even the course home page. An example of a breadcrumb trail is shown below:
breadcrumb trail
Note that you can click on the Communications link to return to the Communications menu page or the course title link to return to the course home page.

When navigating in, refrain from using your browser’s Back button as this many cause unpredictable results. Always navigate by using the tool links or by using the navigational links called breadcrumbs.


Pasting from Microsoft Word into Blackboard

Students have experienced problems viewing text that has been pasted directly from Microsoft Word into Blackboard. This practice can result in the text not being viewable. The cause of this issue is hidden formatting codes that are included when using the copy/paste feature from Word. These unneeded codes must be removed prior to pasting into Blackboard. Please use the following procedure to prevent issues when pasting text from Microsoft Word.In Microsoft Word, highlight the desired text and copy the text.

  1. Open Notepad (PC: Start > All Programs > Accessories > Notepad) or TextEdit (Mac) and paste your copied text into the text editor. This action will copy just the text and remove the unneeded formatting code.
  2. In Notepad, highlight the entire text again (or push CTRL+A on the keyboard) and copy (CTRL +C on the keyboard).
  3. Go to the Discussion Board post or comments section if submitting notes for an assignment in Blackboard and paste the text in.
  4. Format your text using Blackboard's own Text Box Editor settings. These settings are similar to text editing in Microsoft Word. For instance, you will be able to bold, highlight, change the color, italicize or underline your text.
    formatting box
  5. Submit your document and check for unusual characters. If one does appear, modify the item and correct the character. Again, submit the item and check your work.

Logging out of Blackboard

If you are on a public computer, it's important to log out of Blackboard and the network - otherwise, the next user who comes along will be able to log into Blackboard as you. Click the Logout button on the Blackboard banner on the top of the page to log out.


Announcements

HIGH PRIORITY

Register for Training:
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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