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Faculty Help / FAQ

713-525-6900
ithelpdesk@stthom.edu

Faculty Help / FAQ
This page serves as a collective resource for common issues and questions related to the UST Blackboard learning environment.

Please contact tsstraining@stthom.edu if you have any questions, suggestions or concerns about information presented on this page.

Due to certain compatibility issues, we highly recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox when viewing Blackboard.

General:

Uploading / Adding / Removing:

Bugs/Errors:


General:

How to Request Your Blackboard Course

Blackboard courses are requested via the Faculty Center in MyStThom. If you have any problems accessing the page or making the request, please look first at the tutorial. Then, if you still have a problem, contact us at www.stthom.edu/bbhelp

  1. Log into myStThom (https://peter.stthom.edu)
    Note: The Blackboard support team cannot assist with access to myStThom. If you experience login issues, please contact the Help Desk at ithelpdesk@stthom.edu.
     
  2. Access the Faculty Center from the left navigation area.
     
  3. Select your semester and make your course requests. You can select the course to be created, request course copies from previous semesters and make notes for any special needs.

See the tutorial for full details.

Opening Microsoft Files in Blackboard 9

Microsoft files such as Word documents occasionally give a login prompt when accessed through Blackboard. Review our pdf tutorial on how to address this issue.

Students Unable to See Files?

Settings within a course could prevent students from seeing uploaded files and/or documents under some specific circumstances. These issues can easily be corrected by the instructor.

Course Menu Link Hidden: For logistical reasons, many of the links listed on the Course Menu bar in many Blackboard courses have been set to hidden. This means the link and page may be visible for the instructor, but not for the student. This issue is easily identified by the instructor by looking for a square with a diagonal slash icon (students will not be able to see this). This icon signifies that the item is hidden from student view and thus inaccessible / invisible to students.

To remedy this issue instructors will need to click the chevron button next to that navigation link and select “Show Link.”

Error: The specified object was not found; you do not have permission to view content.

In some rare instances some select students appear to be getting this error message when trying to access content uploaded to a course. We suspect that this is a Bb 9.1 bug dealing with file permissions in the system. The current work around for this issue is to either re-upload the file or re-attach the file to the link. See below:

How to Re-Attach File to a Link in a Course:

  1. Navigate to the link in question within the course and click the down chevron next to the link.
  2. Select Edit.
  3. Click the Browse Course button to navigate the files in the course and select the correct one.

What do I do if the "Attach a File" link is obscured when I am sending an email attachment?

This issue only occures in Internet Explorer (IE) and is easily fixed by toggling the browser into "compatibilty mode."  See this PDF tutorial for more information.

How Do I Add/Drop Students?

At the start of the semester, student accounts are created and added to courses as they register. This happens automatically, and it typically takes about a day. However, if you need a person added sooner, you can add them yourself (providing that an account exists for the student).

Add a Student to Your Course:

  1. Go to the Control Panel > Course Tools > Manage Users.
  2. Click the "Add User by Role" button at the top of the screen.
  3. Use the search menu that appears to find the user and enroll them in the class.

Removing a Student from a Roster:
Students are not automatically removed from a Blackboard roster upon dropping a course or transferring sections. In the case of a transfer, the student’s name will show up in BOTH sections, so you will want to address that.

We do not support the practice of removing/deleting users from a Blackboard roster. This is done as a safety precaution since this function deletes all records of the student having been in the course and cannot be undone. Instead, we recommend that you make the course unavailable to the user. This maintains the student's records in the course in case a mistake was made or the student changes their mind. This will also prevent the student from continuing to access the course material.

Flag a Student as Unavailable:

  1. Go to the Control Panel > Course Tools > Manage Users.
  2. Click on the the "List/Modify Users" button.
  3. Find the user's name, and in the Enrollment Status column, use the down chevron menu button to change their status to Unavailable.

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What does "Unavailable Child Course" mean? (Merge Courses)

This means the course is merged with another course. Merged courses are a way of combining multiple Blackboard classes into one so that it may be taught as a single class.

The process of merging courses establishes a Parent / Child relationship between the courses. Essentially this puts everyone in the same class and labels that class as parent. Child courses will still show up in your Course List but both faculty and students will only interact through the parent course.

Your child course will be flagged as "unavailable - child course" in your Course List as well as a reminder that you should not go into that class. All interactions in merged courses must take place through the parent course. In fact, we typically recommend that you hide the child courses from your course list to help eliminate any potential confusion. You can do this by clicking on the gear icon in the upper right corner of your Course List.

 

Uploading / Adding / Removing:

Can't Find File I Just Uploaded

  1. Make sure that you uploaded the file to the correct location / the same location you're checking.
  2. Make sure that you haven't set the file details to hidden. Review this PDF tutorial on how to fix the problem.

Can't Find Tool (email, syllabus, Wimba, blog, calendar, etc.)

The tool is most likely set to unavailable, which is the default setting. Review this pdf tutorial on how to set tools to available. 

How Do I Add Content to My Course?

Review this PDF tutorial on how to add your content to a course.

I Can't Delete a Column from the Grade Center.

There is a known bug in Bb 9.1x dealing with deleting columns in a gradebook. We expect Blackboard to issue a support patch addressing the issue soon, hopefully before the end of the semester. The only current work-around is to hide the column until a a solution can be provided.

How Do I Remove Extra Buttons from the Course Menu?

The process of copying a previous semester course often adds extra unneeded buttons to a Blackboard course menu. Instructors often ask how to delete these buttons to de-clutter the navbar. To do this click on the down chevron next to the Course Menu item you want to delete and then select the "Delete" option.

 

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Bugs / Errors:

Steps to Fix Invalid HTML Error

Courses converted from Blackboard 8 occasionally give an Invalid HTML error on some course pages. Review our PDF tutorial on how to address this issue.

Wimba “Audio init failed” screen

On occasion users may come across an error stating that the “Audio init failed” when trying to access Wimba. This is a known issue that occurs when Wimba begins loading in the browser. Users can work around this by either plugging in a microphone or even plugging in a set of earphones into the microphone port.  

NOTE: If a user has this error they cannot interact with the voice interface at all, even just to listen, without exercising the work around.

"This page contains secure and non-secure items" message in Internet Explorer (IE).

This message sometimes appears in IE 8 because IE 8 prompts by default whenever it shows a Web page with mixed content, i.e., with SSL and non-SSL content. To get rid of this annoying IE 8 prompt and allow mixed content, do this:

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Click the Tools button and then click Internet Options.
  3. Click the "Security" tab and then click the Custom Level button.
  4. In the Security Settings dialog box, scroll to the Display mixed content setting in the Miscellaneous section and then click "Enable."
  5. Click OK in the Security Settings dialog box, and then click OK button to exit Internet Options.

Test timer auto submit results in a "needs grading" status

The Set Timer option in Blackboard Assessments records student completion time on the Assessment. When an Assessment is timed, the scheduled time is included in the Assessment instructions. Students are also notified of the Auto-Submit setting which determines whether the Assessment saves and submits automatically when time expires if students may continue working beyond the time limit. Timer warnings appear for student when half time, five minutes, one minute and thirty seconds remain.

Some students whose tests are submitted because the timer expires may have their attempted test graded, but the system still holds their attempt in the "Needs Grading" section. The current work around for this issue is to access the sudent's attempt and then select "Save" to submit the grade to the grade center.

This is a known bug and will be addressed in an upcoming Blackboard service patch.

Issue viewing PDF on Mac platforms

Recently made changes to the way Blackboard code embeds PDF files will cause viewing issues for Firefox and Apple’s Safari browsers operating in the MAC OS X. The issue is that users attempting to view PDF files attached to course content cannot view the files. Until Blackboard implements a more permanent fix, there are some suggested solutions. 

Problem
If you place the PDF into the course using the Create>File content option, it will potentially cause the PDF issue for those users in Safari and Firefox.

Solutions

  1. Recommended option—The following is not only a solution but is also recommended as a good design practice for content in Blackboard.  Add files as items instead of using the File option.  If you place the PDF into the content area using the Create >Item content option and then attach the file through the “Attach File” option in the Attachments section, you can circumvent the entire issue.

  1. Alternate option  As an alternative to changing the delivery method of your course content, users can operate in the Google Chrome browser since it has a built in PDF viewer that does not rely on an Adobe plug-in. 

Alternate option  MAC OS X users can also install a third party plug-in for reading PDF files, such as the Schubert IT plug-in. This is recommended by the Blackboard Learn user community and not supported by IT or TSS.

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SlideShare mashup fails to display

Following the release of a recent update, Blackboard Learn has had trouble getting SlideShare mashups to work correctly.

Problem

The recommended patch applied on the UST Blackboard server no allows instructors to add SlideShare presentations to course content via the Mashup tool without compatibility errors. However, errors may still occur when trying to play presentations already added to courses. SlideShare provides a blank presentation.

Solutions

  1. In the content area, find the SlideShare presentation item; click the contextual arrow, and select Edit.

    Editing the SlideShare mashup
     
  2. Click the Submit button. This will re-encode the embedded presentation correctly.

See also this PDF tutorial for a printable version of this topic.

 

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The University of St. Thomas, dedicated to educating leaders of faith and character, is a private institution committed to the liberal arts and to the religious, ethical and intellectual tradition of Catholic higher education. St. Thomas is Houston’s only Catholic University and was founded by the Basilian Fathers in 1947.

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