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Student Help / FAQ

713-525-6900
ithelpdesk@stthom.edu

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

Tutorials

General FAQs

Bugs/Errors

I cannot open some files from Blackboard using Internet Explorer.

At times when using Firefox or Chrome is not an option, Internet Explorer is acceptable for most uses. However, IE's security settings may prevent 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. This link opens a page displaying links to tools available in the course, including Discussion Board. Instructors may also place a link to the general Discussion Board or a particular forum in a content area of the course. If you cannot find the needed 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:

  • the due date
  • the date the grade was last edited
  • the actual grade, or a symbol indicating that the item has not been graded
  • the average or median grade on each assessment
  • the total number of points accumulated
  • details about each assessment
  • grade weighting

Some grades (online tests and assignments) have additional information associated with them, which you can view by clicking on your numeric grade.  When you click that link, you should see a list of all of your attempts, if the instructor has allowed students to take the test or submit the assignment more than once. The instructor may use the score from the first, last, best, or worst attempt, or the average score, in calculating the final grade.

  • For grades on Blackboard tests, the instructor may provide detailed breakdowns showing individual questions, submitted answers, correct answers, and comments.
  • For Blackboard online assignments (e.g., papers submitted through an assignment link) you can click the grade and see the instructor's comments, plus a copy of each document you have submitted.

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How do I clear my browser cache?

Clearing the cache may be necessary for the latest version of a web page, or plug-ins associated with that page, to load correctly. It may also clear a significant amount of space on the hard drive.

Before clearing your browser cache, be sure to log completely out of Blackboard and any other sites. After clearing the cache, close and relaunch the browser.

Instructions for clearing the cache depend on the particular browser:

Internet Explorer:
Click on the Tools menu or button, and select Internet Options. Select the General tab, and then click the Delete... button under Browsing History. On the next window, click Delete files... under Temporary Internet Files.

Firefox:
First open the Options dialog box: For Windows, click Tools > Options; for Macintosh, click Firefox > Preferences... Next, select the Privacy tab. Click the Settings... button under 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 the Clear Now button under Private Data to clear the cache.

Chrome:
Click the menu button at the far-right end of the navigation bar, and select Settings. On the Settings page, in the top-left area, click the History link, then click Clear Browsing Data... In the dialog box, make sure that Cached images and files is checked, along with any other data you would like to delete. Then click the Clear Browsing Data button in the dialog.

Safari:

For Macintosh, click the Safari menu, and select Empty Cache... For Windows, the command is under the Edit menu; if the menu bar does not appear, click the Settings button at the far-right end of the navigation bar, and select Show Menu Bar. To confirm that you would like to clear the cache, click the Empty button on the dialog box.

What is the difference between a Blog, a Wiki, and a Journal?

The communication tools referred to as Blogs, Wikis, and Journals are similar in appearance, but their purposes are subtly different.

The Blog (short for "web log") allows users to keep a public journal on a course and anything relevant to it. Students may post references and links to online articles, along with their conclusions or opinions in the form of text, graphics and attachments. Other students may be invited to comment on Blog Entries.

Like Wikipedia and its relatives, the main purpose of a Wiki is to present strictly informative articles. Each Wiki Page should explore a particular facet of the course content, such as biographical information on a major figure in an academic field. An instructor may leave Wiki Entries open to editing by other users, as well as to comments. They may also put Wikis to a variety of creative uses, such as collaborative writing of a short story.

The Journal tool allows an instructor and a student to communicate privately. The student can post Journal Entries regarding course material, the course's level of difficulty, and other matters; the instructor can then reply via comments. At the instructor's discretion, 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. Different instructors may place different links on the Course Menu: It could be under Assignments, Course Documents, or someplace else. An assignment 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 enrollment data to be updated in Blackboard.
  • Your instructor may need to make the Blackboard course "Available" to the class.
  • Your instructor may 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. Most Java plug-ins require the latest version of the Java Runtime Environment for optimal performance.

If you try to enter a Virtual Classroom session 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—e.g., 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 directly from Sun Microsystems. Go to java.com and look for the current "JRE" or "Java Runtime Environment." If you are a Macintosh OS X user, you can download a usable version of Java using the Software Update application.

I’ve lost my Course Menu. All I can see is the course Home Page.

If you visit a Blackboard course and discover that your navigational links are missing, and all you see is the announcements or the "home page" for the course, then the Course Menu has been minimized. Look in the far left margin of the browser window for a small > icon. Click it to restore the Course Menu to full size in the left column. You can minimize the menu by clicking the < between the Course Menu pane and the page content, then restore it as above. Blackboard remembers the setting you choose and displays it the next time you log in.

 

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

This could be a problem with your browser: Try switching from Internet Explorer to Firefox or Chrome, or vice versa. A more likely problem is the size or the name of the file.

The Blackboard system at UST has a maximum file upload size of 50 megabytes (MB). However, to prevent severe slowing of the application, Blackboard Support recommends limit file uploads and keeping them down to a few megabytes at most.

Names of files posted to the Internet, including Blackboard, should contain only letters, digits, dashes and underscores. Spaces are also acceptable, but they should appear not at the beginning or end of the file name. They should also have file extensions that specify the type—e.g., .docx for Microsoft Word documents. Whether using Windows, Macintosh or any other system, avoid file names like "33 1/3%" or "Lecture Notes 2/2/04." Use names like "one_third.pdf" or "lecture-notes-02-02-15.ppt" instead. Keep the file name as short as possible while still communicating the content or purpose of the file.

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I cannot get some of the video files to open in my course.

In some courses, attached media files will open only under the correct combination of circumstances. The web browser, operating system, and configuration options all affect whether media files attached in Blackboard behave correctly.

There are several different ways these files may not work: They either do not open at all, load in the browser plug-in but do not display, or produce some kind of error message indicating that the file is no longer available. They may also ask a user to enter a user ID and password for authentication, particularly in Internet Explorer but also in the Safari browser.

This problem usually results from course content copied from templates or previous editions of the course: The links to these files actually point to a location in the source course rather than the current (destination) course.

The first advice is to use a browser other than Internet Explorer 11. Blackboard’s Help site specifically recommends using either Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome for the current version of Blackboard. These browsers are free to download and offer better compatibility with various third-party plug-ins.

Different types of video files have different native applications in which they run best: .mov files in Apple QuickTime, .wmv files in Windows Media Player, etc. QuickTime and Windows Media Player have plug-ins that run in a browser window, but they also can run as stand-alone applications. If the videos do not display in the browser, try these steps instead.

  • Right-click the link, and select the Save Link As command or equivalent.
  • Save the target file to a folder of your choice, such as the Videos library in Windows, or the Movies library on a Macintosh system.
  • Chrome and Firefox will save copies of the file to the folder you specify and to the Downloads folder.
You can click the button for the file to play it in the default application for that file type. You can also browse your Windows Explorer or Macintosh Finder for the copy you saved and run it from the location you specified (e.g., Videos or Movies). If the file still does not play, the instructor may need to upload all video content to a web-based video site such as YouTube or Vimeo, and substitute links to the online versions of the files.

Bugs/Errors

"Audio init failed” screen in Voice Authoring

On occasion users may come across an error stating that the “Audio init failed” when trying to access the Blackboard Collaborate Voice Authoring tool.  This is a known issue that occurs when the tool 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 encounters this error, they cannot interact with the Voice Authoring 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 various versions of Internet Explorer because IE produces the message by default whenever it shows a Web page with mixed content—i.e., with Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and non-SSL content. To get rid of this annoying IE message and allow mixed content, do this:
  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Click the Tools menu or button, and select 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 the Enable option.
  5. Click OK on the Security Settings dialog box, and then OK to exit Internet Options.

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