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Student Help / FAQ


Student Help / FAQ
Due to certain compatibility issues, we highly recommend using Google Chrome or Firefox when viewing Blackboard.


General FAQs


I cannot open some files from Blackboard using Internet Explorer.

I.E.'s security setting may be prohibiting you from opening certain files. When you click on the document link, a security message bar appears at the top of the content window. Click on that bar and choose download file.

How and/or where do you access the discussion board on Blackboard?

If your instructor is using the Blackboard Discussion Board, then there should be a link somewhere in your course, but the precise location is up to the instructor. Some courses have a "Tools" or "Communications" link on the main course menu going to a page containing a set of course tools including Discussion Board. Others may place a link to either the general discussion board system or a particular discussion in a content area of the course site. If you can't find the link in your course, ask your instructor.

How can I check my grades?

Many courses use Blackboard to post grades.  To see them, use “View Grades” in the "Tools box" on the Blackboard home page.  In most courses you can also find your grades by clicking the “Tools” link (on the main navigation menu) in your Blackboard course site.  Then click “My Grades.” Grades that are reported will vary from course to course, but may include:

  • Due date and date grade was last edited
  • The actual grade or a symbol indicating that the item has not been graded
  • Average assessment grade
  • Total number of points accumulated
  • Details about each assessment
  • Information about the class average on each assessment
  • Grade weighting

Some grades (online quizzes and “assignments”) have additional information associated with them, which you can get by clicking on your numeric grade.  When you click that link you’ll see a list of all of your attempts, since instructors can allow students to take a quiz more than once if they wish, with the grades for the individual attempts.

  • For grades in Blackboard quizzes, the instructor may provide you with detailed breakdowns showing individual questions, correct answers and comments.
  • For Blackboard online "assignments" (e.g., term papers submitted through an assignment link in Blackboard) you can click the grade and see the professor's comments plus a copy of the paper as you submitted it.

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How do I clear my browser cache?

Before clearing your browser cache, be sure to log out of Blackboard and any other sites, close and restart your browser after clearing the cache. Then, instructions depend on the particular browser:

For Internet Explorer:
Click on the "Tools" menu, then "Internet Options." Select the "General" tab and then click the "Delete..." button for "Browsing History." On the next windows click "Delete files..." for "Temporary Internet Files."

For Firefox:
First open the "options" menu. For Windows go to "Tools" ->"Options." On a Mac go to "Firefox"->"Preferences..."Next, select the "Privacy" tab. Click on the "Settings..." button for "Private Data" and in the next window make sure that the box by "Cache" is checked. Click "OK" to return to the previous window. Then click on the "Clear Now" button under "Private Data" to clear the cache.

For Safari: 
Click the "Safari" menu and then "Empty Cache..."

What is the difference between a blog and a journal?

The "Journal" tool and the "Blog" tool are very similar. The blog is a public discussion whereas the Journal tool allows the instructor and the student to communicate privately. The student can post messages to the instructor and the instructor can then comment back. If the instructor wishes, the journal can be made public but it does not allow other students to comment.

How do you upload assignments to Blackboard?

Blackboard has an "Assignment" feature (tool) that some instructors use to accept homework from students.  Find the link that the instructor placed in the course site. It could be in the "Assignments" section, in "Course Documents" or someplace else. It will have an icon that looks like a piece of paper with a pencil and a ruler.

I don’t see my course in “My Courses.”

There are several reasons why your course might not be listed in Blackboard:

  • After you have officially enrolled in a course, it can take up to one business day for the update to be made in Blackboard.
  • Your instructor might need to make the Blackboard course site "Available" to the class.
  • Your instructor might not be using Blackboard in your face-to- face course.

I tried to use the Virtual classroom, and it didn’t work.

The collaboration tools -- Virtual Classroom and lightweight chat -- both require that your PC or Mac have Java installed. As of fall 2009, Blackboard requires at least version 1.6 of Java, so you might have Java but an old version. If you try to enter the virtual classroom from a computer without a current version of Java, the system offers to download a more recent version, but that download can fail for a variety of reasons (not least being that you don't have privileges to install it on most computers in labs on campus).

If you have your own PC, you can get the latest version of Java -- more recent and better than the one Blackboard tries to install for you -- direct from Sun. Go to and look for the current "JRE" or "Java Runtime Environment." If you are a Mac OS X user, you can download a usable version of Java using Software Update.

I’ve lost my course menu.  All I can see is the course home page.

If you visit a Blackboard site and discover that nothing looks right -- that all you see is the announcements or the "home page" for the site -- then the main menu, has been minimized. Look in the far left margin of the browser window, for a small ">" icon. Click it to restore course menu to the left column. You can minimize the left menu by clicking the "<" between the course menu and the page content then reopening it as above. Blackboard remembers your setting and uses it next time you log in.

Why aren’t all my courses listed in “My Courses?”

Only the courses where a professor is actually planning to use Blackboard are listed. Sometimes a professor forgets to make the site available, and sometimes a professor combines multiple classes into a single merged site, so Blackboard course sites aren't necessarily named quite the same way as they are in the course schedule.

Why do I get an error when I try to upload an attachment to Blackboard?

This could be a problem with your browser (try using FireFox if you're using Internet Explorer, or vice versa), but the first thing to check is your choice of file names. To avoid all sorts of problems, any Internet file should be named using only letters, digits, dashes and underscores and should have file extensions that specify the type. So even if you're a Mac user, avoid files with names like "33 1/3%" or "Lecture Notes 2/2/04." Use names like "one_third.htm" or "lecture-notes-2-2-04.ppt" instead. Be especially careful to avoid spaces at the beginning of file names—they're easy to include by accident and hard to notice unless you are looking for them. Keep the file name as short as possible.

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Why doesn’t my class for this semester appear in Blackboard?

It's possible you aren't actually registered for a course that uses Blackboard, or the professor for the course has not made his/her Blackboard site "available." It won't appear in the student's list of courses until he/she makes it available. Ask your professor whether he/she is using Blackboard for the course this semester.


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 to exit "Internet Options."

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University of St. Thomas - Houston, TX - Educating Leaders of Faith and Character
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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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