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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

As of Fall 2014, Blackboard courses are created for all current class sections. Instructors need submit course requests for two services only:

  • to recycle content from previous class sections
  • to merge two or more courses not already cross-listed

Instructors may submit these requests 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, send Blackboard Support a message from 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. Click the Faculty Center link in the left navigation area.
     
  3. To recycle content, select the semester of the course to recycle. To merge courses, select the course to serve as the Parent course and any browse for any designated Child courses.

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. This happens mostly when viewing Blackboard via Microsoft Internet Explorer, which is not the recommended browser. 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, content items, or entire Content Areas. An instructor can fix this problem easily in most cases.

Course Menu Link Hidden: For logistical reasons, links on the Course Menu in many Blackboard courses may be 1hidden. This means the link and its associated content may be visible for the instructor, but not for the student. The instructor will see a tiny square icon with a diagonal slash (students will not be able to see this). This icon signifies that the item is hidden from students' view and is thus inaccessible to them.

To make the link visible to students, an instructor may click the chevron button next to that link and select Show Link.

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

In some rare instances, students encounter this error message when trying to access content uploaded to a course. We suspect that this is a Blackboard 9.1 bug dealing with file permissions in the system. The current work-around for this issue is either to re-upload the file or re-attach the file to the link.

Re-Attaching a 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.

Alternatively, use the Browse My Computer button to upload a fresh copy of the file from your computer's hard drive or a flash drive.

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

This issue occurs only 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 Student or Teaching Assistant added sooner, you can add them yourself (providing that a Blackboard account exists for the user).

Adding a Student to Your Course:

  1. On the Control Panel, click Course Tools > Manage Users.
  2. Click the Add User by Role link on the Manage Users page.
  3. Find the user or users by name, and enroll them in the class.
  4. Click Submit to complete the process.

Removing a Student from the 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.

As a safety precaution, we do not support the practice of removing/deleting users from a Blackboard roster. Removing a Student user deletes all records of the student's participation in the course and cannot be undone. Instead, we recommend that you make the course unavailable to the user. This will also prevent the student from continuing to access the course material. It also maintains the student's records in the course in case a mistake was made or the student decides not to drop the class.

Flagging a Student as Unavailable:

  1. On the Control Panel, click Course Tools > Manage Users.
  2. Click on the List/Modify Users link.
  3. Find the user's name in the list. In that user's row, in the Enrolment Status [sic] column, click the down chevron, and select Make Unavailable.
  4. Click OK to complete the process.

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What does "Unavailable Child Course" mean? (Merged 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. This allows students in multiple sections or related courses access to the same content, and combines the class rosters into one list in Grade Center.

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 in which you are an instructor will still show up in your Course List module, but both faculty and students will only interact through the parent course.

Your child course will be flagged as "unavailable - child course" in the Course List as well, as a reminder that you should not click into that course. 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.

Hiding a Course on the Course List Module:

  1. Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner of your Course List.
  2. On the Personalize: Course List page, look for the listing of the Child course, and click the Select All/Unselect All checkbox twice to clear all checkboxes for that course.
  3. Click Submit. On returning to the Blackboard Home Page, you should no longer see the course in the Course List module.

 

Uploading / Adding / Removing:

Can't Find File I Just Uploaded

  1. Make sure that you uploaded the file to the correct location—i.e., 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 for some course tools. 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 Blackboard 9.1 regarding deleting columns from the Full Grade Center grid. The only current work-around is to hide the column until a solution can be provided. To begin this process, in Full Grade Center, point to the Manage button, and select Column Organization.

How Do I Remove Extra Links from the Course Menu?

New courses in Blackboard contain some links on the Course Menu as placeholders. The process of copying a previous semester course often adds duplicate links to the Course Menu. Instructors often ask how to delete the unneeded links and de-clutter the interface.

Removing extra links:

  1. First, click the link to make certain that it does not lead to a Content Area with necessary content.
  2. Click the chevron next to the link you want to delete, and then select the Delete option.
  3. When the confirmation message box appears, click Delete Content.

 

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Bugs and 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

Blackboard has gradually replaced Wimba Voice Authoring with Blackboard Collaborate Voice Authoring and refined the product. However, content created with the older Wimba tool may still produce errors from older versions.

One fairly common error from Wimba is the message “Audio init failed." This is a known issue that occurs when Wimba begins loading in the browser. Users can work around this by either plugging a microphone or even a set of earphones into the computer's microphone port.  

NOTE: Users who encounter this 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 various versions of IE, whenever it displays a Web page with mixed content—i.e., with SSL (Secure Socket Layer) and non-SSL content. To get rid of this annoying IE message and allow mixed content:

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Click the Tools 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 in the Security Settings dialog box, and then OK to exit Internet Options.

Test Timer Auto-Submit Results in a Needs Grading Status

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

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

A recent Blackboard Service Pack or patch may have eliminated most instances of this bug.

Issue Viewing PDF on Macintosh Platforms

Recent changes to the way Blackboard code embeds PDF files will cause viewing issues for Mozilla Firefox and Apple’s Safari browser operating in the Macintosh 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 Build Content > File option, it may cause the PDF issue 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 Build Content > Item option, and then attach the file through the Browse My Computer button in the Attachments section, you can circumvent the entire issue.

  2. 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 the Adobe Reader plug-in. 

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 but is not supported by UST Instructional Technology.

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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 now 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 previously added to courses. SlideShare displays a blank presentation.

Solutions

  1. In the content area, find the SlideShare presentation item; click the chevron to the right of the title, and select Edit.

    Editing the SlideShare mashup
     
  2. Click the Submit button. This will re-encode the embedded presentation correctly; you do not need to do anything else.

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

 

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IT Help Desk

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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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