Loading an assignment

February 17, 2010 – 10:59 am

Sometimes students think they’ve uploaded an assignment when they haven’t done so at all.  A problem common to both faculty and students is the natural understanding that once a document has been located and opened it is ready for submission.  Not so, mon ami!  Loading a document is a three step process:

1. Browse for and locate the document

2. Open the document

3. Select attach.

A short, illustrated tutorial is available here:


Uploading a document

Uploading a document

Can’t see the Course Menu?

February 5, 2010 – 10:04 am

Perhaps you or your students have come across this issue:  after accessing your course shell you find you can see the Announcements page but little else.  The Course Menu and Control Panel are nowhere to be seen!

This happens because Blackboard has a feature which allows users to extend the content palette across the entire width of the course canvas.  But in so doing the menus get hidden.

The resolution is simple:  click the arrow icon located about halfway down the left-hand margin of the page and the Announcements Panel will snap back to reveal both the Course Menu and the Control Panel.

Illustrated instructions can be found at:

New Support Doc: Test-taking precautions

December 17, 2009 – 12:41 pm

We’ve added new documentation to help students avoid common problems in test-taking.  Both student and faculty versions of the document can be found on the Bb Support tab.

New documentation in the Bb Support Tab


ePortfolio Support

December 8, 2009 – 4:56 pm

New!  Faculty Support for the ePortfolio tool –


Bb Support tab when you are logged into Blackboard.

Install the latest version of Java!

November 30, 2009 – 2:31 pm

The latest version of Blackboard is very Java-intensive, and it will help if you download the most recent version of the software. It is free and installs itself:

Install Java!


Please let me know if you have any questions — Robert, harrisr@wpunj.edu

Mozilla Firefox

September 3, 2009 – 2:09 pm

Are you having difficulty downloading documents?  The problem is the MS Internet Explorer web browser.  Download the free Mozilla Firefox browser instead:


Documentation! Read your way to freedom!!!

September 3, 2009 – 2:02 pm

See documentation on the Bb Support tab, to the right of the WPUNJ tab after you’ve logged in to Bb.

Standard Practices

We’re upgrading!

May 28, 2009 – 10:03 am

In the Fall of 2009 we’ll debut the next version of Bb, called Next Generation or NG for short.  BbNG marks a significant step forward in that it combines the best of WebCT (the former chief rival of Blackboard that was purchased, captured, taken hostage etc. by Bb a few years back)with the best of the old system.  Some things are new — Journals, Blogs, the Grade Center — and some components continue on in a new wrapper.  I’m excited about BbNG, as it is easier for students to manage, and much easier for faculty!

We are presenting an all-morning upgrade workshop on June 1, and you can call 973.720.2659 to register for that or to make an appointment with an instructional technologist for a one-on-one workshop.

We’ll also be having our usual late August workshop for people new to Bb — stay tuned for announcements!

BlackboardTV Channel on YouTube.com

March 9, 2009 – 11:46 am

Have you seen the Blackboard help videos on YouTube’s BlackboardTV channel?  The address is:


The site features videos appropriate to students and faculty alike, made by Bb users from all over the world. Learn about the new gradebook, see what’s coming in Blackboard 9, and more!

Transferring course content between semesters

December 1, 2008 – 2:22 pm

Do you have course content from a previous semester that you’d like to transfer into the upcoming (or ongoing) semester? No problem! Simply go to Bb Home, http://bb.wpunj.edu, and click “Transfer course content” in the Faculty area.

The direct link is: http://euphrates.wpunj.edu/bb/.

Multiple instructors in one course?

December 1, 2008 – 11:45 am

Blackboard automatically loads one instructor for each course, but balks at adding more. But if are team-teaching you’ll need both instructors loaded, and that is something the Bb administrator can do for you. Simply use the Bb Support Center — see the link in red at the top of Bb Home, http://bb.wpunj.edu — to specify the course prefix, number, and section (e.g. hist 101-60).

If you need an observer in your course for peer review please follow the procedure outlined above. Ditto if you’d like a guest lecturer in your Bb course.

But if your guest lecturer comes from outside the WPUNJ community please give us a one week head start, as we need to load the individual into the university system, into Bb, and then load them into your course shell.

Questions about adding extra faculty to your course? Please use the Bb Support Center or write Blackboard administrator Robert Harris at harrisr@wpunj.edu.

Trouble accessing Bb?

November 17, 2008 – 11:02 am

Do you log in regularly but suddenly find yourself without access? Perhaps the problem isn’t with Blackboard but with the technology that links Bb to the portal (WPConnect). The resolution is easy: avoid the portal altogether and access Bb directly. Point your browser to Blackboard Home, http://bb.wpunj.edu

Other advantages to logging in to Bb Home include access to the wealth of help documentation stored on that page. Visit Bb Home now and see for yourself!

Edit the Sections Listed on your Bb Site!

October 13, 2008 – 2:38 pm

Do you have three pages of Bb courses going back two years? Do you find yourself scrolling up and down your roster of courses just to find a specific section? You can eliminate this problem by using the Edit Course List tool.

On the top page of your blackboard site click the pencil tip                V

on the ensuing interface check the Display Course Name box to keep the course visible on your site, and uncheck the box to leave it invisible:

Making a site invisible does not delete it from your account.

For more detailed instructions please go to the Get Started link under Faculty Support at Bb Home, http://bb.wpunj.edu, and scroll to the bottom for instructions.

Stay tuned for more great tips!


Known Issues

October 10, 2008 – 3:48 pm

Known issues are little jinks in the system which we can not correct but for which we have work-arounds.  See the Known Issues document by clicking the red link in the center-bottom of Bb Home, http://bb.wpunj.edu

Issues currently covered include

  • Assessments
  • Browsers
  • Digital Drop Box Filenames
  • Word 2007

Keynote: NG

July 28, 2008 – 4:28 pm

Keynote:  Michael Chason

Bb World, 2008

This will comprise an introduction to v9, dubbed Next Generation (and always referred to as NG).

A recurring theme throughout the talk was a spoof on the MS/Mac commercials where a  button down guy plays Microsoft and a with-it dude plays Macintosh.  In this case the button–down dude is Blackboard v.4-8 and the with-it dude is v.9   They kind of flop because the original commercials cream Microsoft, but it’s not in Blackboard’s interest to sneer at the version of the product everyone in the room is using.

Chason announces that Bb World has drawn 2,200 users from 28 countries

Right now there are three levels of Bb entanglement involvement:

  1. Bb Learn – the LMS
  2. Bb Transact – performs e-commerce and transactions
  3. Bb Connect – campus-wide alert.  Later Vlad points out to me that Bb owns the company that we’ve contracted with for campus alert, so whether we know it or not we are working with Bb on that end.

Every time I hear the Bb big-wigs talk they apologize for the quality of support and announce a re-organization that will resolve the issue once and for all.  Having heard this for years now there is much twittering (and some grumbling) from the assembled masses.  Anyway they’ve outsource Tier one calls and are concentrating on Tier 2.  Productivity is up 23% — 23% of what?, I ask.  It’s a silly number to quote.  And what does “productivity” mean?, that they are closing calls or that they are resolving client issues?  And by what magic 8-ball are we gauging the success rate of Tier 1 calls?  I swear, this guy needs a good editor.

Suggests a community engagement tool by which users could log on and be marched with similar schools.  One could compare strategies, do a little dance, etc.

OK, on to the Brave New Frontier of NG

This is the ultimate merging of Bb and WebCT, and will be a multi-year, multi-release effort.  Version 8 will be the last of the old school, while v.9 will be the first of the NG releases.  V.10 will be the mature NG release.  Right, and I wouldn’t install v.9 just out of the gate.

The example he displays uses all three modules:  Learn, Transact and Connect.  In many ways it really is a portal solution.

If a given campus uses more than one LMS (Berkeley, Rutgers, etc.)  NG will aggregate courses from each of them.  So this is how they are going to compete with Sakai, Moodle and the bunch: they are going to act as an umbrella tool for the competition.

Instructors can get updates on student attendance, grades, etc. on Bb or via the phone, SMS, etc.

Modules can be moved about the page as they have been on Google for years now.  He’s pretty stoked about this one.  Faculty, he suggests, will have a great deal more leeway in designing their courses.  Actually I think they have a lot now but don’t use it because it’s not fall-out-of-bed easy, whereas this looks as though it will be.

There will be rubrics function, but it doesn’t seem to be loaded with any examples.  It’s just an area where one can write rubrics.  Waypoint users won’t have much use for this, I don’t think.  Still, it’s less complicated than Waypoint, so while the COE may use the latter more informal users might take advantage of what Bb offers.

Groups look like they are more logical, and students should have less difficulty than they do now with the threaded nightmare.

Instructors can go to one site and manage multiple gradebooks from there.  That got a round of applause from the audience.  Chason wondered why his module thing didn’t get that level of excitement, and someone calls out “because it’s not innovative any longer.”  And that line got applause.

v.9 will ship with 15 languages, many of them European.  I wonder if he is counting English . . .

The portfolio tool is improved because instructors can see the rubrics as well as the materials from across their courses.  This really looks like the webpage interface Terry has been on about re: portfolio, so it might make him happy.

He shows off the Scholar (bookmarking) and plagiarism tools, but they seem pathetic shadows of good products already out there (del.icio.us and turnitin.com).

He talks shortly about the Sync tool, which I’ve discussed earlier.  In initial iteration will synchronize Bb and Facebook, but iPhone, myYahoo, and iGoogle are on their way – but not imminently. Maybe not until 2012.

For more information see:

Interactive Guided Tour of Project NG