Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tip #34: Adding a Course Banner

Tip: You can add a banner to your course.

Here’s how to do it:
A course banner is an image that appears at the top of the Announcements page of your course. To add a banner to your course, navigate to the Control Panel. Click Course Design and then click Course Banner.

Click the Browse button to locate the desired image on your computer. Select the desired image file and click Open. Click Submit to upload the image as your course banner. NOTE: You must upload image files in .jpeg or .gif formats. Blackboard does not recognize other image formats.

Cautions when adding course banners:
Some course banners may create accessibility issues for course users. To avoid these issues, we recommend the following guidelines for course banners:
  • Avoid uploading banners that contain moving images. Moving images may increase students’ page loading time and may interfere with students’ browsers.
  • Avoid using large images. Keep images within 500 x 500 megapixels.
  • Avoid uploading image files that are too large. The file size for any image uploaded to Blackboard should be no larger than 5 MB.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tip #33: Helping students troubleshoot

Tip: You can help students to troubleshoot their Blackboard issues.

Here’s how to do it:
Consider posting a series of technical tips in Blackboard for your students. You might consider adding these tips to a Technical Support discussion board, allowing students and teaching assistants the chance to share concerns and solutions.

Students can follow a series of steps or procedures to troubleshoot their Blackboard issues. We recommend the following troubleshooting steps:
  1. Log out of Blackboard and shutdown the computer. Restart the computer and re-log into Blackboard. Some issues may only require logging out and logging back in to Blackboard.
  2. Clear out your browser cache. If you use Internet Explorer as your browser, click the Tools menu option on your browser. Click Internet Options and select the option to delete your browsing history, temporary files, and cookies. Click OK. Close the browser entirely and re-start the browser. Log in to Blackboard.
  3. Try using another browser. Some issues may be caused by browser errors or incompatibility. Consider using another browser, such as Firefox or Safari (Mac users), to see if the issue persists in multiple browsers.
  4. Try using another computer at a different location. Some problems that you experience may actually be related to your personal computer or to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Make sure that the problem is occurring in more than one location and on one computer.
  5. Turn off pop-up blockers while using Blackboard. Remember to enable them again once you’re done with Blackboard.
  6. Check the Known Issues website to see if the issue you are having is a known issue. This webpage describes fixes or work-around for several known issues in Blackboard.
What to do if none of the troubleshooting steps work:
If the students’ issues persist after they have tried the troubleshooting steps, ask them to contact the TWU Help Desk. The Help Desk is available via phone, 940-898-9371 or via email, They also have a chat room in which students and faculty can discuss their Blackboard issues with Help Desk personnel. Students should be able to tell Help Desk their course information, instructor information, any troubleshooting steps they have tried, and as much detail as possible about what they do when the problem occurs, including any error message numbers.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tip #32: Contingency Planning

Tip: You can create a contingency plan and develop back-up procedures for your Blackboard course.

Here’s how to do it:
Because of the volatile nature of technology, it is advisable that instructors who use Blackboard develop contingency plans and back-up procedures. Blackboard has several features that can assist instructors with this. We recommend that faculty consider the following procedures:
  • Archive your course periodically. Archiving a course allows you to save course content and user data to your computer or an external drive.
  • Use the Gradebook Export feature to save a copy of your Gradebook to your computer. We recommend that instructors export their Gradebooks at least once a week. For instructions on exporting your Gradebook, view the Blackboard Tip #18.
  • Develop and communicate to students a back-up plan in case Blackboard is not accessible.
Considerations for contingency plans:
When creating your contingency plan, consider the following questions:
  • What are TWU’s policies regarding contingency plans?
  • Does your department recommend or require any specific contingency procedures?
  • Do you have multiple methods by which you can communicate with students in case of an emergency (e.g., email + phone + emergency website)?
  • Will you be flexible with the course calendar and due dates if necessary?
  • What contingency recommendations will you make to students (e.g., print your course syllabus, keep back-ups of all files submitted to Blackboard)?
  • What back-up spaces could you use to continue your course if access to Blackboard or to the TWU campus was not possible?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tip #31: Managing Student Access to Blackboard Courses

Tip: When students drop a class and are not automatically removed from Blackboard, you can limit their access to the course.

Limiting access to students who drop the course mid-semester
Students who have dropped a course mid-semester will not be removed from your Blackboard course roster. This is designed to allow instructors to keep records of all students in the course. Removing a student from the Blackboard course will delete all information, including grades for that student.

Here’s how to limit access and retain student information:
Navigate to your Control Panel and click the List/Modify Users link. Type the student’s last name, or click search to list the whole class roster. Select properties next to a student’s name. Scroll down to Section 4: Role and Availability. Under Available (this course only) select No. Click Submit.
NOTE: Limiting access to students will not remove them from your grade book. However, the student will no longer be able to log into the course.

Removing Students from a Course
If a student was never enrolled in the course per your WebAdvisor roster, removal of the student may be appropriate. Keep in mind that all student data will be removed including grades, assignment submissions and course statistics.

NOTE: Blackboard roster updates occur several times a day through the twelfth class day. It is possible that during these first days of the semester, students removed from a course will be added back into the course when the roster updates occur. Removing students after the twelfth class day will be permanent.

How to permanently remove a student from the course
Navigate to your Control Panel and click the Remove Users from Course link. Type the student’s last name, or click search to list the whole class roster. Place a checkmark next to the student’s name. Type the word Yes in the box and click Submit.

NOTE: Official student rosters can be obtained from WebAdvisor and compared with Blackboard. Students who are not listed in Blackboard but listed in WebAdvisor should call the helpdesk at 3791 for assistance.