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Home PageContact UsLog into Blackboard

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs are in the process of being converted from Bb 8 to Bb 9.

What are the 5 things I need to know for the Spring 2011 semester?

  1. Copying course content works on the 1st try.
  2. Internet Explorer will block the download of content from Blackboard unless a change is made to the user's browser settings.
  3. Listing students has changed.
  4. Students need to be told that they have to click on Attach File if the Assignment Manager is used.
  5. Any time display dates are used, be sure to select both a display after date and a display until date.

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Accessing Blackboard

What if I can't log in to Blackboard?
If you have tried multiple times to log in to Blackboard and have been unsuccessful, you can check to see if your EID is properly synchronized with the main EID system: https://www02.austin.utexas.edu/loginchecker/.

If you are still having difficulties logging in, you should either contact the Help Desk at 475-9400 or wait 30 minutes before trying to log in again.

What if I'm not listed as the instructor in Blackboard?

  • The Blackboard server gets data about course instructors from the Office of the Registrar. If you are not listed as the instructor within Blackboard, it is probably because this information has not been entered into the system yet.
  • Have the person in your department responsible for scheduling courses enter the instructor information into the FaSET system, an application administered by the Office of Information Management and Analysis. It may take 24 to 48 hours before that data gets to the Blackboard server.
  • New appointments require several levels of approvals. If you are a first-time instructor, you should be able to access Blackboard when your appointment has been submitted by the department and approved by the Provost's Office.

If I am a new or out-of-town instructor, how do I access Blackboard?

  • You must have a UT EID to use Blackboard. There are no exceptions. If your appointment as an instructor with the University (even a long-distance instructor) is correctly recorded, you may be able to obtain a UT EID online. Instructors are required to upgrade to high assurance.
  • Instructions for in-person and out-of-town upgrading is available at UT EID Upgrade Locations.
  • You may need to contact your department to confirm your instructor status or to arrange for a departmental contact to provide you with a temporary password that you can use to establish your UT EID.
  • If you are still unable to establish your UT EID, please contact the Help Desk for further assistance.

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Adding Course Materials

How do I upload a file to my course?

For step by step instructions, please see our Adding an Item tutorial.

How do I upload multiple files to my course?
There is a special tool called the Document Package that provides the capability to add multiple files at once.

  1. Locate the files to be uploaded and save them into one folder in .zip format. On a Mac, select the files, right-click (Ctrl-click) and select Compress Items. On a PC, select the files, right-click, select Send To and then select Compressed File.
  2. Select the Content Area in the left hand navigation menu where you want them to reside (i.e. Course Documents).
  3. Click the More button and select Add Document Package.
  4. Follow the instructions.
  5. All files will be added to Blackboard with the item names saved as the file names.

What types of files can I upload?

All files uploaded to Blackboard from a Macintosh must have the file extension added. If you plan to use files that need a specific application to view them, then we recommend that you create a link to the software download page for students.
There are also certain characters not to use when naming files. Here are two tables that show commonly used file extensions and characters not to use when naming files:

Types of Files
Word
PowerPoint
Excel
PDF
HTML
Text
Rich Text Format
Image Files
Audio Files
QuickTime Video Files
Real Audio Files

File Extension
.doc, .docx
.ppt, .pptx
.xls, .xlsx
.pdf
.htm, .html
.txt
.rtf
.gif, .jpg, .png
.mp3
.mov
.rm, .ram

Characters not to use
Ampersand
Comma
Semicolon
Quotes
Question Mark
Number sign
Slashes

 
&
,
;
' ' or " "
?
#
/ or \

How do I upload linked web pages?

To upload multiple Web pages that are all linked, and have them display correctly for the audience, do the following:

  • Use compression software (for example WinZip or StuffIt) to "zip" the files together as one file. This process will vary, depending on what product you are using.
  • Upload the zipped file into the Course Documents area or the location you want to put it in.
  • In the Special Actions drop down menu choose Unpackage this file.

When the student clicks on the link, the package will unzip and the index page will be displayed.

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How do I add my TA to my course site?

As the instructor, you can follow the instructions in the Enroll User tutorial and then the Modify User tutorial to add your teaching assistant directly to your course site.

If you want to provide your TA with access to photo rosters and other related systems, you can follow the instructions in the Adding TAs through CLIPs tutorial. The only feature a Teaching Assistant cannot use is the Course Copy link. Only an instructor can copy from one course to another.

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How do I block anonymous participation in the discussion board?

All communication postings are tracked by user ID unless the instructor has allowed anonymous posts in a discussion board forum. Preventing anonymous posts and reminding your students that the sessions are archived, greatly decreases the likelihood of harassment. As can be expected in a campus environment, the likelihood is never reduced to zero, but it is safe to predict that participants in a chat or discussion are less apt to harass others if they know they are not anonymous.

To block anonymous participation in discussion board sessions,

  1. When setting up a new Forum:
    1. Select Communication.
    2. Select Discussion Board.
    3. Select Add Forum. As you are setting up your forum, you will see an option to allow anonymous posts. Be sure that this option is unchecked when you create your Forum.
  2. To change an existing discussion board:
    1. Select Communication, and then Discussion Board.
    2. Find the link for the discussion board you want to change, and click on the Modify button that appears to the right of the link.
    3. One of the options you can modify will be to allow anonymous posts. Be sure that this option is not checked.

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How do I archive/export my course site?

If you are an instructor, you can archive your course site as a backup. The Blackboard server is backed up regularly to allow restoration of all courses in the event of a catastrophic failure. If you or one of your TAs accidentally destroys part of your site, you are responsible for having a copy of your data. System Administrators (contact the ITS Help Desk at 512-475-9400) can help you restore the data from your archive.

To back up your site, do the following:

  1. Log into Blackboard at https://courses.utexas.edu.
  2. On the My Blackboard page, click on the course link (in the My Courses module).
  3. In the Control Panel area (on the lower left hand side of the page) of the course, click on Packages and Utilities.
  4. Click on Export/Archive Course.
    • Click Archive for a complete backup (including students).
    • Click Export for a copy of all course materials (except students). Select areas to be included.
  5. You will receive an email message stating that the process has been completed.
  6. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to access the .zip file. Click on the file and SAVE it to your desktop. Note: Do NOT select the option to automatically open the .zip file.

The .zip file is specifically formatted for Blackboard course sites and contains important course-related materials.  The archive files also include student grade data.  Both the export and the archive files should be maintained in a safe, secure location such as Webspace (https://webspace.utexas.edu).

The .zip file can be imported into future Blackboard course sites.   Follow the steps posted in the tutorial.

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How do my students submit their assignments?

  1. Select the Content Area from the Course Menu that holds the Assignment. For example, the Course Documents or Assignments area.
  2. Click the name of the Assignment. The Upload Assignment page appears.
  3. Complete the Submission field if necessary.
  4. Click Browse for Local File and select a file to attach.
  5. Enter a Name of link to file or leave the field blank and the name of the file becomes the link.
  6. Click Attach File.
  7. Complete the Comments field if necessary.
  8. Click Submit when the page is complete.
  9. To review submission, click on the link to the assignment and then scroll down to submission history.

How do I download my students' assignments as a .zip file?

  1. In the Evaluation section of the Control Panel, click Grade Center.
  2. Select the double-down arrows next to the Assignment name.
  3. Select Assignment File Download.
  4. Select All or select individual student's files.
  5. Click Submit and then Download the .zip file.

NOTE: If you get an error message when downloading the .zip file, you have an illegal character in the actual assignment name. For example, if your assignment is named Project #1, you will not be able to bulk download your students' papers. To fix this, click on the content area in the course menu where the assignment is located. Click the double-down arrows next to the assignment name and then click Edit Column Information. Remove any characters that are not letters, numbers, or spaces and click Submit.


What tools can I use in my course site?

Blackboard has provided several tools to ease the process building an interactive course site.

Tool

Description

Assignment Manager

Allows exchange of files with the instructor and course users.

Course Calendar

Allows editing the course calendar.

Grade Center

Allows students to check their personal grades online. The instructor can give immediate feedback.

Announcements

Allows you to communicate important information to students quickly.

Faculty Information

Allows you to create a profile with your office hours, location, phone number, etc. for students to view.

Survey Tool

Allows you to create surveys and gather feedback from your students.

Podcast Tool

Allows you to create podcasts for students to subscribe to.

Sign-up List

Allows you to create a sign up list for students.

You can choose any of the following features to enhance your students' learning experience.

  • The Collaboration (virtual classroom) feature is built into all Blackboard courses and enables "synchronous communication," so that multiple students can converse with you and with each other in real time.
  • A discussion board would enable you and your students to communicate asynchronously; unlike the Collaboration tool, it isn't necessary for all participants to be online at once. You can set up different forums for group discussion.
    • Online office hours
    • Quizzes to be taken online
    • Electronic posting and checking of grades (students can only access their own grades).
    • Electronic submission of assignments

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How many instructors, students, and courses use Blackboard each semester?

!UT_mark.gif! These numbers are determined based on estimating criteria to determine an active course.  

These numbers are not official.

Semester-Year

Version

Uniques

Courses

Storage

Instructors

Students

Total

Student
Enrollment

Fall 2009

     9.0

5,670

5,262

316,441 Mb

     3,136

  49,224

52,630

50,995

Summer 2009 (as of July 27)

      9.0

     825

     793

30,731 Mb

      1,032

  12,411

13,443

 

Spring 2009

 

   4,366

   4,242

250,308 Mb

       3,251

   44,807

48,058

47,299

Fall 2008

 

   4,508

   4,383

215,759 Mb

       3,094

   48,247

51,341

49,984

Summer 2008

      8.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring 2008

      7.3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer 2007

      7.2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring 2007

 

   4,037

   3,891

112,823 Mb

       2,773

   44,173

46,946

 

Fall 2006

 

   3,935

   3,797

 93,258 Mb

       2,703

   47,371

50,074

 

Summer 2006

 

      677

      665

 14,549 Mb

          901

   12,427

13,328

 

Spring 2006

      6.3

   3,563

   3,406

80,635 Mb

       2,569

   42,985

45,554

 

Fall 2005

 

   3,483

   3,329

64,969 Mb

       2,426

   46,775

49,201

 

Summer 2005

 

      637

      626

14,518 Mb

          816

   12,793

13,609

 

Spring 2005

      6.2

   3,070

   2,932

59,615 Mb

       2,291

   42,912

45,203

 

Fall 2004

 

   2,942

   2,804

48,466 Mb

       2,123

   45,649

47,772

 

Summer 2004

      6.1

      539

      523

  8,036 Mb

          701

   11,720

12,421

 

Spring 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall 2003

 

   2,226

 

 

       1,131

   43,428

44,559

 

Summer 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring 2003

 

   1,041

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer 2002

 

      167

      143

 

 

 

 

 

Spring 2002

 

 

      424

 

 

 

 

 

Fall 2001

 

      656

      475

 

          354

   20,204

20,558

 

Summer 2001

 

        50

        45

 

            43

 

 

 

Spring 2001

 

      286

      165

 

          136

 

 

 

Fall 2000 (pilot)

      5.0

        48

        70

 

            30

 

 

 

* Note: Beginning Summer 2004, a new query was developed that actually counts the number of students in active courses and the number of instructors and TAs in active courses. Some people could be counted in multiple roles as instructors, TAs, and students so the number of instructors is calculated as Total Unique Users less Total Unique Students.

Blackboard Daily Usage Records

Item

Fall 2006 (Date)

Fall 2007 (Date)

Fall 2008 (Date)

Fall 2009 (Date)

Unique users per day

27,519 (10/02/06)

28,562 (12/05/07)

31,377 (09/29/08)

34,765 (09/28/09)

Total logins per day (not unique)

57,999 (10/03/06)

73,585 (12/05/07)

64,974 (09/29/08)

71,018 (09/28/09)

Data downloaded (Mb)

115 GB (12/06/06)

133 GB (12/05/07)

196 GB (09/29/08)

284 GB (09/29/09)

Unique users/semester

               50,074

              53,094

             51,341

              52,630


Blackboard Daily Usage Chart

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Browser requirements

Web Browsers: Windows

Browser

XP

Vista

Notes

IE 8

Compatible

Compatible

 

IE 7

Compatible

Certified

 

Firefox 3.0.x

Certified

Certified

Must run version 3.0.3 to use the Learning Environment Connector.

Web Browsers: Mac

Browser

10.4

10.5

Firefox 3.0.x

Certified

Certified

Safari 3

Certified

Certified

Safari 2

Compatible

Compatible

Firefox 1.5 and 2.0 are not supported for Blackboard Learn. It is recommended that Firefox 1.5 and 2.0 users upgrade to Firefox 3.0 to access the latest security patches and Mozilla support.

Mac OS 10.3 is not supported for use with Blackboard Learn.

Java Virtual Machine
Java Standard Edition 5, 32-bit (1.5.x) and later is the supported version for all operating systems.

Key to Support Levels

Certified

Certified configurations are fully tested and supported.

Compatible

Compatible configurations are partially tested but should function properly.

Not Supported

The configuration is not tested or supported by Blackboard.

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How do I access my CLIPs menu?

The CLIPs inline menu is usually located at the bottom of your UT Direct Home page. If you can't locate it there follow these steps to access your menu.

  1. Click SITEMAP located in the top banner of UT Direct.
  2. Click Academics from the list of categories for UT Direct.
  3. Click Class Information Pages located under Services.

Any questions regarding CLIPs should be sent to the Office of the Registrar.

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Collaboration

Why can't I join the chat session?

The collaboration tool is a java applet that is considered to be a popup window. Some browsers are configured to block popup windows. Here are step by step instructions on how to configure your browser to allow the applet to launch.

Turning off your Popup Blocker in Internet Explorer

  1. Launch Internet Explorer
  2. From the Tools option in your menu bar click Free Surfer
  3. Click on Tools > Rules List
  4. Click Add
  5. Type http://courses.utexas.edu
  6. Click Add
  7. Click Close
  8. Click Close
  9. Close the window

Turning off your Popup Blocker in Firefox

On a Mac:

  1. Click Preferences.
  2. Click Content.
  3. Click the Exceptions button next to Block pop-up windows.
  4. Add the address https://courses.utexas.edu.
  5. Click Allow.
  6. Close windows by clicking on the red button in the upper left hand corner.

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How can I combine my students into one Blackboard site?

There are two options:

  1. Combine all students into one course
  2. Create a new master site with all students and keep the original unique number course sites

To combine all students into one course, use the Combining Blackboard Course Sites with CLIPs tutorial to help you do this.

To create a new master site, please contact the HITS Help Desk with all of the unique numbers to be included. You will receive a confirmation once the new site is created. The new site will keep up with enrollment changes. Note: The students will see two course sites. Instructors can rename the master site for easy navigation by the students.

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What tools can I use for communicating with my students?

The table below lists common components of a course Communication Center, available by clicking the Communication button. These tools can also be restricted from students accessing them. Scroll down to find this question.

Component

Description

Send e-mail

Lets you exchange e-mail with classmates, instructors, teaching assistants, or groups within a course.

Discussion Board

Allows threaded discussions and "asynchronous" communication (not everyone has to be online at the same time). Conversations are logged and organized. An instructor must create a forum, but students can then add threads.

Collaboration Tool

Allows the instructor and students to participate in real-time lessons and discussions. Chat sessions can be recorded and archived. This is "synchronous" communication, so everyone participating must be available at the same time. Unless someone else happens to be "listening" online (either coincidentally or by prearrangement) when you send your chat message, you will get no response.
Be aware that Collaboration tool (Chat) sometimes loads slowly.

Group Pages

Allows groups of students within a class to share a homepage and many communication functions.

Conversations using Blackboard chat sessions and discussion board sessions can be recorded and archived for the course as part of Blackboard's archiving process.

You can also broadcast current and important information for students to see when they log in by posting to Announcements area.

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Copying Course Materials

How can I copy my entire course from one semester to another?

You can copy over course materials from a current or previous course site to a new course site. Use the tutorial Copying Courses. You must be an instructor of record in both courses to use this feature. Teaching Assistants are unable to perform this function.

  1. Click Packages and Utilities in the Control Panel area.
  2. Click Course Copy.
  3. Fill in form and click Submit.
  4. System clears form and returns back to the form page.
  5. Fill in form again and click Submit.

How can I copy over a specific document or folder?

Documents and folders can be easily copied from course to course in Blackboard.

  1. Once an item or folder is created, you will see a double-down arrow to the right of the item name.
  2. Click Copy.
  3. Select the Destination Course from the drop down menu.
  4. Click the Browse button and from the Course Map select the Destination Folder. Click the Submit button to finish selecting the location.
  5. You have the option of deleting the item from the original course. Choose Yes or No.
  6. In the Submit area click the Submit button to finish copying the item.

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How can I get help creating my course site or answering specific questions?

For help in answering specific questions, please contact the ITS Help Desk. Inform the Help Desk staff if you would like to schedule a consult with Center for Teaching and Learning (formerly DIIA) staff.


Copyright and Intellectual Property

Issues of intellectual property ownership are addressed in the Who Owns What? section of the UT System Copyright Crash Course.

"If you are associated with the University of Texas System as faculty, staff or student and have questions about the application of the Rules of Thumb or the four factor fair use test, please let me know."

Other Resources:

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What is the Discussion Board?

The discussion board allows threaded discussions and "asynchronous" communication (not everyone has to be online at the same time). Conversations are logged and organized within your blackboard site. As an instructor, you must create a forum, but students can then add threads.

For step by step instructions on using the discussion board use this tutorial from Blackboard, Inc.: http://www.blackboard.com/quicktutorials/Bb_Discussion_Board_Overview_viewlet_swf.htm

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How can I add back a student who dropped the course?

Students who have dropped your course become disabled in the course. They do not receive email or have access to your course.

If you would like to add this student as an auditor to your course, send that user's EID and course unique number to the ITS Help Desk. You will receive an email once the EID has been reset in the course.

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Downloading files

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As an instructor with experience using eGradebook, how can I display my students' grades in Blackboard?

The retirement date for eGradebook is December 31, 2010.  The reasons for the decision are available at: https://utdirect.utexas.edu/diia/egb/retirement.WBX

Question:  How do I enter students' grades?

In Blackboard, you need to create a column first.  Then you can enter the grades or you can download the spreadsheet, enter the grades using Excel (or other spreadsheet program), save the file, and then upload the grades back to Blackboard.

For a more eGradebook feel for entering grades please try our Edit/Enter Grades tool located in the Course Tools area of the Control Panel.

Question: How do I upload my Scanned Grades into Blackboard?

A step-by-step FAQ is available that explains how to upload grades from the Scanning Office into Blackboard.

Question: How do I show my students their answers and answer key from the Scanned Grades system?
After you upload the Scanned Grades, you can also upload the answers and answer key to display to your students. Step-by-step instructions will be posted shortly.

Question: How can I enter my students' grades by grade column quickly?
A new feature is in place that will provide instructors with the option to enter grades one column at a time similarly to eGradebook.  The Edit/Enter Grades tool is located in the Course Tools area of the Control Panel.

Question: What are some additional features available in Blackboard?

  • When you create your weighted grade column, you can select the option to display as a Running Total. This will show students their current grade based on your weighting formula. It will only include grades that have been entered and will disregard any columns that are blank.
  • Rare circumstances can occur in which an instructor wants to exempt a student from a particular assignment. http://help.asu.edu/node/1816#ExemptGrade

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How do I email my whole class?

  1. Click on the Communication link on the course menu and select Send Email or go to the Control Panel area, click on Course Tools, and then click on Send Email.
  2. Choose one of the following options:
    1. All Users to send email everyone in your class
    2. All Students to send email to just the students in your class
    3. Single/Select Users to send email individual students in your class
    4. Single/Select Groups to send email to all members of a particular group(s).
  3. In the form that appears, enter a subject line and the text of your message.
  4. You can also add file attachments.
  5. Click the Submit button in the bottom right corner.

Note: E-mail sent in Blackboard will have the subject line beginning with the Course ID.

Why are some of my students not receiving my emails?

Many popular email clients, such as Hotmail, Yahoo and even AOL, may identify email from Blackboard as junk mail and then either automatically delete the email or move it to a junk mail folder. In Hotmail, students can fix this problem by changing their options by turning off their junk mail filter and setting their junk mail deletion option to delayed.

If students have problems receiving Blackboard emails in any other email program, they should check their user preferences or options for settings regarding the handling of junk email.

How can email addresses be changed in Blackboard?

Users can change their e-mail addresses displayed in Blackboard by updating through UT Direct at https://utdirect.utexas.edu/utdirect/bio/address_change.WBX.

For students who are not employed by the University, the e-mail address used by Blackboard is the student e-mail address listed in the UT Directory.

Employees of the University such as full-time and part-time faculty, staff, and other instructional positions, the e-mail address in Blackboard is the one listed under employee's biographical information.

This change may take 1-2 days before updating in Blackboard.

How can I see my students' email addresses?

If you are an instructor for a course (or a duly authorized TA), you can view your students' e-mail addresses as described below.

  1. In the Control Panel area select Users and Groups and click Users.
  2. You can List All Users by changing the Starts with pull down menu to Not Blank and clicking Go.

If the instructor is receiving bounced email notices, then the student may have an invalidly formatted email address (not in the name@server.end format), no email address, or a full mailbox.

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Do you monitor e-mail for possible abuses of acceptable use policy?

No, ITS does not monitor email but they do know who sends email and what was sent. Just because they don't monitor or filter email, that does not mean you can send email of any type to the others in your class. Email offering things for sale or offering to to participate in academic shenanigans is prohibited. You'll find that other students are not very tolerant of this and your instructor will probably not approve. If you use the email system for things other than legitimate academic purposes, you may be subject to discipline from your instructor and you may be referred to the Dean of Students. Blackboard is available for your academic use. Selling tickets is best done on services like e-bay and craigslist.

Reporting Email Abuse

Use of Blackboard's email should be for course-related messages only; please see UT Austin Acceptable Use Policy. Messages such as selling football tickets and posting party invites are not considered course-related unless the instructor has specifically allowed this usage for his/her class. Violations of the UT Austin Acceptable Use Policy will be vigorously pursued. Violators may face disciplinary action including, but not limited to verbal warnings, negative impact on grades, or loss of email privileges. For more information on reporting emails that you believe violate the policy, please visit the UT Austin Acceptable Use Policy website.

How can I disable students' ability to email the entire class through Blackboard?

  • Scroll down to the Customization area of the Control Panel.
  • Click on Customization to expand the menu.
  • Click Tool Availability.
  • Scroll down to Email.
  • Click on the double-down arrow below Email.
  • Click Email Settings.
  • Uncheck options in the Available column to remove them from the Student View.
  • Click Submit.

Note: Instructors and teaching assistants can still email the entire class by accessing the Send Email tool through the Course Tools area of the Control Panel.

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What should I do when I get an error telling me to contact my System Administrator?

If you receive this error while working in Blackboard, you should first check to see if the action you were attempting was successful. You can do this by going back to the course navigation menu and clicking on the area you were working on.

If the action was unsuccessful, please attempt the process again before contacting the System Administrator.

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How long do former students have access to Blackboard?

Enrolled students and graduating students should have access to Blackboard until the 12th class day in the following long semester.

For example, if you graduated in Spring 2009, you will typically lose access to Blackboard after the 12th class day in Fall 2009.

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How do I use the Grade Center?

The Grade Center allows instructors to immediately give grade feedback to students via the web. For step-by-step instructions on navigating to the Grade Center, adding an item to the Grade Center, and entering grades to the Grade Center use this tutorial: Adding columns to your Grade Center

Why are my students seeing a check mark in their grade list?

When creating an item in your Grade Center, there is a display option that defaults to Score unless you change it. There are 5 options to choose from:

  • Complete/Incomplete
  • Letter
  • Percentage
  • Score
  • Text

If you have already created the item and need to change this option, navigate to your Grade Center.

  1. Using the double-down arrows next to the column name, click Modify Column.
  2. On the Modify Column page, find Primary Display and change the display option.
  3. You can also change the Secondary Display option that only instructors and TAs can see.
  4. Click Submit.

How do I download and upload an Excel spreadsheet to my gradebook?

  • This version of Blackboard allows Instructors/TAs to upload a spreadsheet to your Grade Center. It is recommended that you download the spreadsheet first to receive the correct format and student list.
  • Also, the Grade Center will not process the data for any user name that is not enrolled as a user in your course. Changes made to the First Name, Last Name, Total, and Weighted Total columns will not be processed either.
    NOTE: Grades in the spreadsheet are uploaded into the Grade Center by username.

For step-by-step instructions on downloading and uploading the gradebook, use these tutorials:

How can I use Excel to add comments to my students' grades?

You will Download your Grade Center spreadsheet (see link above), but you will select the option to download one column and check the box to include comments. Open the spreadsheet in Excel and enter text in the Grading Notes (instructor view only) and Feedback columns (student-view). Then follow the instructions to Upload your Grade Center spreadsheet (see link above).

How do I sort my grades?

You may now sort by:

  1. Layout position
  2. Category
  3. Due date
  4. Creation date
  5. Display name

You can also sort by any column in the Grade Center by clicking on the item name. This will sort in ascending order. Click on the item name again and it will sort in descending order.

NOTE: Be very careful when entering grades for large classes.

How do I restore a hidden column?

  1. In the Grade Center, click Manage.
  2. Click Column Organization.
  3. Select the check box next to the column name.
  4. Click Show/Hide at the bottom of the page.
  5. Select Show Selected Columns.
  6. Click Submit.

What if I can't see the scroll bars in the Grade Center?

This usually means that your default Windows font size has been changed.

In Windows XP,

  1. Logout of Blackboard and close your web browser
  2. Open your computer's Control Panel (Start > Control Panel)
  3. Double-click the Display (or Display Properties) icon
  4. Click the Appearance tab
  5. Click the Advanced button
  6. In the Item: drop-down list, choose Scrollbar
  7. Select a number less than 20 from the Size: option (17 is the default value)
  8. Click OK
  9. Close any open control panel windows
  10. Reopen your web browser and login to Blackboard

In Windows Vista,

  1. Logout of Blackboard and close your web browser
  2. Open your computer's Control Panel (Windows Start Button > Control Panel)
  3. Double-click the Personalize icon
  4. Click Window Color and Appearance
  5. Click Open classic appearance properties for more color options
  6. Click the Advanced button
  7. In the Item: drop-down list, choose Scrollbar
  8. Select a number less than 20 from the Size: option (17 is the default value)
  9. Click OK
  10. Close any open control panel windows
  11. Reopen your web browser and login to Blackboard

In Windows 7,

  1. Logout of Blackboard and close your web browser
  2. Open your computer's Control Panel (Windows Start Button > Control Panel)
  3. Under Appearance and Personalization, click Change the theme
  4. Click Window Color
  5. Click Advanced appearance settings
  6. In the Item: drop-down list, choose Scrollbar
  7. Select a number less than 20 from the Size: option (17 is the default value)
  8. Click OK
  9. Close any open control panel windows
  10. Reopen your web browser and login to Blackboard

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How do I give a guest/auditor access to my course?

There are three different types of access that you can give a guest to your course.

Normal Enrollment:

  1. If an individual has never been enrolled in your course and is a current University of Texas student or employee, you can follow the steps outlined in the Enrolling a user tutorial.
  2. If you tried to enroll a current UT student or employee, and received the message "User is already enrolled: eid username", then this user is either currently or formerly enrolled. In the Users and Groups area of the Control Panel, click on Users, then change the Search box term from Starts with to Not blank, then click Go. If the student is not listed, then they are most likely disabled. A disabled user is an individual who registered for and then dropped your course. The system disables them to keep any grade records, assignments, etc. associated with the user.
  3. If a user has dropped your course and is disabled, send that user's EID and course unique number to the ITS Help Desk. You will receive an email once the EID has been reset in the course.

Guest UT EID Access:

Follow this link to create a guest UT EID. When the guest EID has been created, contact the ITS Help Desk with the following information.

  • Name - First and Last
  • Guest UT EID
  • Why guest access is needed
  • How long guest access is needed

You will receive an email once the appropriate permissions are given to the Guest EID. The EID will be active in Blackboard the next business day. Use the Enrolling a user tutorial to help you give this student access to your course.

Preview Access:

This type of access allows a guest to search the course catalog in Blackboard to find your course. The course catalog is located in the Courses Tab along the top banner. The individual can search by unique number, by instructor name, or by title keyword for your course and access the available course content, such as your syllabus area. This type of guest does not have access to any communication areas within the course.

To give this type of access:

  1. Allow guest access to your course.
    • Click Customization in the Control Panel area.
    • Click Guest and Observer Access.
    • Select Yes to Allow Guest Access and then click Submit.
  2. Allow guest access to your content areas.
    • In the Customization area of the Control Panel, click Tool Availability.
    • Scroll down to Content Area and check the box in the second column and then click Submit. Note: If the box has been grayed out, then Guests are not allowed to access this area.
  3. Allow guest access to specific areas on your course menu.
    • With Edit Mode On, click the double-down arrows next to Course Documents (or other content area) and select Permit guests.

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!UT_mark.gif! What is an individual instruction course and why can't I access my individual instruction Blackboard site?

An individual instruction class is a class, which does not always meet as a group on a regularly scheduled basis. Most of the instruction involves student/teacher contact on a one-to-one basis. definition from OIR

Individual instruction courses will not have an instructor listed in Blackboard. If you wish to use Blackboard for this course, you will need to contact the Help Desk and provide the following course information:

  • Course unique number
  • Course name
  • EID of the instructor

Once we receive the request, we will manually create a Blackboard site. All enrollments must be handled by the instructor or TA of the course.

To add multiple students at a time in a Blackboard course, use the Power User Enrollment link located in the Course Tools area of the Control Panel.

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How can I download files in Blackboard course sites using Internet Explorer?

Internet Explorer interprets the request to download a file in Blackboard as a security risk. There are two ways to work around this issue.

  1. Change to browser settings:
    1. Click on Tools and then Internet Options.
    2. Click on the Security tab and select the Internet zone.
    3. Click on Custom Level and scroll down to the Downloads section and make sure that the option for Automatic Prompting for File Downloads is enabled.
    4. Click OK and then OK again.
  2. Open in new tab or window:
    1. Right click the item
    2. Select "open in new tab"
    3. Go to new tab
    4. Click on the security warning message and select "Download File"
    5. Select Save on the pop-up menu

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How do I see all of my students?

    1. In the Control Panel area select Users and Groups and click Users.
    2. You can List All Users by selecting Not Blank in the Search box and clicking Go.
  1. Another option is to use the List All Users add-on tool that is available in the Course Tools area of the Control Panel area.  This tool will shows students' names in red if they are no longer currently enrolled.
  2. Instructors and authorized Teaching Assistants can view the students in the Registrar's Class Roster and Photo Roster by clicking on Instructor Resources in the Course Tools area of the Control Panel area.
  3. Active students can be viewed in the Grade Center by clicking on Evaluation in the Control Panel area and then clicking on Grade Center.

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Login problems

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My Blackboard

The My Courses module on the My Blackboard page organizes courses as follows:

All of your course sites beginning with Summer 2007 courses are displayed in this module. You can choose which courses are displayed by clicking on the Modify Settings icon (the middle icon in the upper right portion of the module).

Uncheck the Display Course ID AND the Announcements column for each course that you no longer want displayed and then click Submit.

NOTE: You can always see all courses listed by clicking on the Courses tab in the top frame.
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My Places

My Places provides users with quick and easy navigation to a variety of places within Blackboard. This feature is accessed by clicking the My Places link at the top of the page and contains a customizable set of links to frequently accessed information and tools. Users can upload an avatar which can be used to represent the user throughout Blackboard Learn. Avatars are displayed in My Places, Blogs, Journals, and within Notifications Modules (including What's New, Needs Attention, To Do, and Alerts).

How to turn on the Visual Text Editor

  1. Click the My Places link at the top of the page.
  2. Click Personal Information.
  3. Click Change My Settings.
  4. Click On to make the Text Editor Available.
  5. Click Submit.

How to personalize My Places

  1. Click the My Places link at the top of the page.
  2. Click Personal Information.
  3. Click Personalize My Places.

How to upload an Avatar

NOTE: Avatar images should be no larger than 150 pixels by 150 pixels.

  1. Select Use custom avatar image.
  2. Click Browse for Local File.
  3. Select the avatar image file and click Open.
  4. Click Submit.
  1. Select the check box for any of the following links to be displayed in My Places:
    • My Courses: To limit the list to the most recently visited courses, type a number
      in the Show only courses visited since: days field. The default is 30 days.
    • My Organizations: To limit the list to the most recently visited organizations,
      type a number in the Show only organizations visited since: days field. The
      default is 30 days.
  2. Click Submit.

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How do I request an organization site in Blackboard?

What is a Community Organization?
A community organization is a feature in Blackboard (a courseware product that provides easy access to Internet-based services to support teaching, learning, and research) that allows members of campus groups and organizations to communicate and collaborate online in a similar way to online Blackboard courses. For example, organization members can share documents, discuss topics, and chat in real-time.

What features are available?
You can post online documents, announcements, and information that can be accessed by the organization's members. Members can participate in threaded discussions and chat rooms for real-time interaction, and exchange e-mail with members within the organization. An organization calendar can be posted as well. Group pages allow organization members to share Web pages.

Why would I want one?
To share information with members of the organization in a centralized location.

Who is eligible?
UT faculty, staff, and students may request a community organization.

How does one request that an organization be created?
The person who will manage the organization can fill out the Request Community Organization (requires UT EID) form and provide organization name and manager information. The manager must have a valid UT EID. Requests from student organizations must be made by a recognized student organization representative.

Can Non-UT folks request an organization?
No.

Who will handle those requests and how?
Information Technology Services (ITS) will process these requests and send confirmation to the requester when the organization has been created (or if the organization couldn't be created, stating why not).

How long does the organization stay active? What is its expiration date?
Organizations will remain active until an organization manager requests for the site to be removed.

How does a new leader remove a previous leader?
Blackboard will display an error message when one person with a leader role attempts to remove another person with a leader role.  As a workaround, the leader can modify the user's role in the course to Assistant and will then be able to remove the person.

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Plug-ins

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Podcasting

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Renaming a course site

Official course sites are automatically named based on the semester/year and the title of the course. For example, a course would be listed as:

09F Introduction to Accounting

Instructors can rename the course site with these steps:

  1. Click on Customization.
  2. Click on Properties.
  3. Change Course Name and/or Description.
  4. Click Submit.

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How long will my course sites remain available?

Purpose of Retention Policy

To define how long instructors can expect online course materials stored in centrally managed space to be retained.

Guiding Principles

To comply with any federal or state laws and University policies related to online course material retention.

To retain centrally stored online course materials for a period of time which instructors and students find adequate and useful.

To ensure that online storage space funded by Information Technology Services (ITS) is used efficiently and to minimize the financial impact of constantly increasing disk storage.

Scope of Policy

This policy covers online course materials on Blackboard application servers and associated disk space managed by Information Technology Services (ITS). This policy does not cover materials stored in a Blackboard organization/community site.

Statement of Policy

ITS will retain online course materials as described above for a minimum of two (2) years from the end of the course. Materials may be available after that two-year period, but instructors should not depend on such availability.

Once early registration is completed each semester, ITS will remove course sites that meet the two (2) year time frame. For example, in Spring 2005 when early registration for summer courses has been completed, ITS will begin removal of course sites from Fall 2002 and earlier.

Retaining copies of the syllabus, electronic gradebook and electronic student work is the sole responsibility of the instructor. Instructors should always make copies of the gradebook or download student work prior to removal of material from the course. Instructors who need help moving their materials to longer-term storage may contact the Help Desk. Faculty may request that their course materials be deleted earlier than this policy describes.

Review of Policy

This policy shall be reviewed by ITS and CTL (formerly DIIA) at least annually and at other times as needed, and faculty shall be notified of any resultant changes.

Related Policies

Record Retention Policy - (http://www.utexas.edu/business/accounting/pubs/utrrs.pdf) refer to AALL350
Draft: June 1, 2004
Revised: April 18, 2013

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What is Safe Assign?

SafeAssign™ is a plagiarism prevention service, offered by Blackboard, Inc. This service helps educators prevent plagiarism by detecting unoriginal content in student papers. In addition to acting as a plagiarism deterrent, it also has features designed to aid in educating students about plagiarism and importance of proper attribution of any borrowed content. Blackboard's Safe Assign website

What databases does it check?

SafeAssign checks all submitted papers against the following databases:

  • Internet - comprehensive index of documents available for public access on the Internet
  • ProQuest ABI/Inform database with over 1,100 publication titles and about 2.6 million articles from '90s to present time, updated weekly (exclusive access)
  • Institutional document archives containing all papers submitted to SafeAssign by users in their respective institutions
  • Global Reference Database containing papers that were volunteered by students from Blackboard client institutions to help prevent cross-institutional plagiarism.

Are my students' papers kept in a UT Austin-only database?

Yes. Students have the option to add their papers to the global database.

What browser settings need to be changed?

Third-party cookies must be enabled. Here is a website with instructions for various browsers: http://www.timeinc.net/tigr/core/html/thirdparty.html

Why is the list alphabetized by first name?

UT is working with Blackboard, Inc. to get this bug fixed.

How do I create a SafeAssign assignment?

  1. Click on Assignments.
  2. Click the Evaluate button and then select Create SafeAssignment.
  3. Enter the assignment name, the points possible, and any instructions for the students.
  4. Select Draft if the students will be submitting a final version of the paper in another assignment.
  5. Select Student Viewable if you want the students to see the resulting report.
  6. Select Yes if you want to Create an optional announcement.
  7. Click Submit.

How do I view my students' submissions?

  1. Click Course Tools in the Control Panel area.
  2. Click SafeAssign then click SafeAssignments.
  3. Click the double-down arrows next to the Assignment Name.
  4. Select View Submissions.
  5. To view the reports, click the Safe Assign icon in the row with the student's name.
  6. To download all submissions, click the Download All button at the top of the page.

Additional Resources:

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Can I import the results from a scanned test or assignment into Blackboard's gradebook?

If you are using CTL (formerly DIIA)'s scanning services for scoring tests and assignments, you have the ability to import those results into your Blackboard gradebook. The results are retrievable from the secure Scanning Services Output Retrieval web site. Follow the directions below to upload them into Blackboard.

Part 1

  1. Go to the [Scanning Services Output Retrieval |https://scanning.ctl.utexas.edu/reports/output/] page.
  2. Download the file (.al.csv) labeled CSV for Blackboard Upload to your desktop.  NOTE:  Instead of clicking on the file to open it in Excel, right-click the file to open the secondary menu. On here, locate the option for "Save Target As.." (Internet Explorer) or "Save Link As" (Firefox). This will allow you to download the file with the format it is currently in, so as to avoid changing the format.

Part 2

  1. Navigate to the Control Panel area of your Blackboard course site.
  2. Click on Course Tools and then click Scanning Services.
    1. If you don't see the link to Course Tools, you can make it available by:
      1. Click on Customization
      2. Click on Tool Availability
      3. Scroll down and select the first check box to the right of Scanning Services.
      4. Click Submit.
  3. Click on Upload Scanned Scores.
  4. If you have not created your gradebook item, do so by clicking on the New Gradebook Item button at the top of the page. (This opens a new window that allows you to create a new gradebook item. When you are finished creating the item, close the window and click the Refresh Here button.)
  5. In section 1, click the pull down menu, select the gradebook item, and click Submit. (If you don't see your gradebook item in the list, follow the directions in step 3 to create the item.)
  6. Click the Browse button, select the .csv file that was downloaded from the output page and click Submit.
  7. You should receive a receipt page and an e-mail stating any problems with the upload.

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Instructions for uploading scanning answers with answer key will be posted here.

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Is there a way for my students to sign-up for groups or presentation times?

There is a sign up tool available (Blackboard add-on) in the Content Areas (Course Documents, Assignments, etc.) When you click on the Content Area, it's located in the drop down menu on the right of the page.

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Student Enrollment

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Tests and surveys

I've performed a Course Copy and cannot find my assessments in the new course.

The Blackboard Course Copy function will copy tests and surveys into the Test or Survey Manager, located in the Assessment area of the Control Panel. You can Modify or Remove your tests in these areas. These assessments will not be available to students until you assign them to a Content Area using the steps outlined in the Making your test available tutorial.

How do I clear someone's attempt if they get locked out of an online test?
To clear a student's attempt you need to...

  • Access the Gradebook from the Control Panel
  • Under the specific column for that test select the Lock icon for that students
  • Click View located at the right of the page
  • The Clear Attempt button is located at the upper right side of this page
  • There is an option, when making an assessment available, to display your test one question at a time. When this option is chosen a student's answers are saved as an assessment is taken. If those students lose network connection they can come right back where they left off.

What do the test options mean?

  • Force Completion means that a student will be required to submit the test after they first click the link to begin the survey.  If the student does not click the Submit  button, the attempt will be marked as In Progress and the attempt will need to be cleared.
  • Set Timer is used to set an expected completion time.  Students who exceed the limit will still be able to submit the test but no grade will be displayed.  This option also records total completion time.  If a test is NOT set as Force Completion, then a student will be able to answer some of the questions, click the Save button, exit the test, and then click on the link to take the test.  The completion time will show the total time the student spent working on the test.

What happens if a student exceeds the allowed time limit on a survey or test?
Blackboard does not cut off a student’s ability to submit answers if they have exceeded the time limit.  Instead, the instructor will see an ! (exclamation mark) in the gradebook.  If the instructor clicks on the double-down arrows next to the exclamation mark, clicks on View Grade Details, then clicks on Open Attempt, she will see the time elapsed.

How can I see the total time the student spent on the test?

Click on the double-down arrows next to the grade, click on View Grade Details, then click on Open Attempt and the total time will be displayed at the top of the page.

How can I see when a student began and then submitted the test?

Click on the double-down arrows next to the grade, clicks on View Grade Details, then click on Open Attempt.  In the Attempts area, the Date Created means when the student first started taking the test.  The Date Last Edited or Submitted is the last date that the student submitted the test.

How do I upload test questions into Blackboard?
View the tutorial developed by California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

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Tracking and course statistics

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Unavailable course settings

By default, when Blackboard course sites are created, they are immediately available to enrolled students and official instructors-of-record.

Enrollment data is updated overnight.

After waiting for the nightly data load, if your course is still not listed, check your CLIPs page. The courses should match with Blackboard.

  • Instructors: If your courses are not listed in CLIPS, check with your departmental administrative representative to make sure that you are listed as official instructor-of-record.
  • Students:
  • Instructors: You can hide a course from student view while you are developing the content or after the semester ends by following these instructions:# In your course site, click on Customization.
  1. In your course site, click on Customization in the Control Panel area.
  2. Click on Properties.
  3. Scroll down to Availability and select No.
  4. Click Submit.

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