Faculty Help / FAQ

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

Please contact the IT Help Desk at 713-525-6900 or 1-800-630-8715, or by email at ithelpdesk@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.


Uploading, Adding, and Removing

Bugs and Errors


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 or departmental templates
  • to merge two or more courses not already cross-listed

Instructors may submit these requests via the Faculty Center section of 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. In the table of current courses, click the icon in the left column of the row for the course.
  4. Click the magnifying glass icon for the appropriate section or sections.
  5. To recycle content, select the semester of the course to recycle.
  6. To merge courses, select the course to serve as the Child course.

See the tutorial for full details.

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How Do I Find a Course ID?

The Course ID comes in handy when you need to distinguish between two or more sections of the same course. This is especially helpful when submitting course requests for the upcoming term and indicating which section you wish to recycle.

To find a course’s Course ID:

  1. Navigate to the course via either Global Navigation or the link in the Course List module.
  2. Expand the Customization Control Panel, and select Properties.
  3. The Course ID appears in the first section, entitled Name and Description.

See the PDF tutorial for full details.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Course Menu Icons

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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.

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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 Users and Groups > Users.
  2. On the Users page, click the Find Users to Enroll button on the action bar.
  3. Type in any Celt Login ID's, separated by commas (no spaces) if there are more than one; or click Browse to search by first or last name.
  4. If browsing, check the appropriate checkbox(es), and click Submit.
  5. Click Submit on the Users page to save changes.

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 Users and Groups > Users.
  2. On the Users page, for each student, click the contextual arrow next to the Celt ID, and select Change User's Availability in Course.
  3. On the next page, change the Availability setting to No, and click Submit.
  4. The Users page allows changing the status of only one user at a time. Continue this process as needed, and click OK to close the Users page.

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Where Is My Content?

In newly copied Blackboard courses the incoming content is appended to the BOTTOM of the existing default course navigation menu. This means that the "Course Documents" and "Course Information" links in the left hand navigation are created with the initial empty Blackboard course still remain in place and should be deleted.

To find the content that was copied into the course look further down the left hand navigation menu. There will likely be a link with your content there.

For information on cleaning up your course navigation please see instructions in the Course Setup Checklist.

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Why Is Access to Material Blocked When Student Click Course Links?

A common mistake in instructional design is adding actual content items in a single content area, hiding the link to that content area to prevent students from viewing items before they are relevant, and providing course links in folders or learning modules for students to navigate to those items. This may seem like an easy solution, but it does not work in Blackboard. Items in a hidden content area cannot be accessed via course links.

A better solution, albeit one that requires more work, is setting availability dates (Display After, Display Until) on individual content items, rather than hiding the entire content area. If you have a course with content items clustered in a content area and accessed via links, after modifying the display properties for the items, click the contextual arrow for the link on the Course Menu, and select Show Link.

However, the best recommendation is to place the items themselves in the folders or learning modules. You can still use course links for linking to individual Discussion Board forums, Blogs, Journals, Wikis, and other items that instructors may add from the Tools button-menu on the action bar.

Why Can't Students See Discussion Board Forums That I See? 

If you have forums in Discussion Board that students cannot see, first check whether the forums are available to students. Unavailable forums should be marked as such on the main Discussion Board page. If the forums are available, it is possible that a Course Link to each forum is currently unavailable. It is generally true in Blackboard that, if a Course Link is unavailable, the item it links to will also be unavailable.

Navigate to the Content Area containing the Course Link, click its contextual arrow, and select Edit. Change the Available property from No to Yes, and clickSubmit.

To test the availability, navigate back to Discussion Board, and click the Student Preview icon at the top-right. Your temporary preview user should get only the links that students can see. 

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How do I add a profile picture?

Beginning in 2014, Blackboard moved this feature from the Personal Information feature to the Social Learning feature, via an external site called MyEDU. Establishing a MyEDU account allows users to establish the same profile at all institutions at which they might by studying or teaching.

This tutorial document provides illustrated instructions for instructors to set up a Blackboard profile and adding a photo. Students follow most of the same steps, except that they do not need to change the dropdown on the information form from I am a student at to I am employed by.

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Blackboard Support creates Turnitin accounts for faculty and staff members enrolled as Instructors in Blackboard courses. Turnitin provides originality checks for documents that students submit. It is a good way to help you identify problem areas if you suspect plagiarism.

For Access to Turnitin:

Send a message to Blackboard Support, bbhelp@stthom.edu, with the subject Turnitin Request (or something similar). A member of the team will create the account by the end of the next business day.

When the account is created, you should receive a message from Turnitin in your UST mailbox. Follow the link provided to create a new password. If you do not receive that message, or if you somehow lose it, you can use the Forgot Your Password? link on the Turnitin login page to create a new password and set up your profile.

UST provides basic access to some general guides for getting started with Turnitin. However, this is an external service, and primary training and support for the product are handled through their site. For further information, please contact Turnitin's support team.

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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.

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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 our PDF tutorial on how to set tools to available.

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How Do I Add Content to My Course?

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

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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.

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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.

Delete Content

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How Do I Remove a Student's Incorrect Submission?

Occasionally a student will upload one or more incorrect files through Blackboard's Assignment tool. As soon as a student clicks the Submit button, the student has effectively turned in the assignment. The student can see immediately whether he or she has uploaded the correct document (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or PDF) via the CrocoDoc viewer; if not, Blackboard does not provide a way for the student to delete the file, so it is up to the instructor.

An instructor can remove incorrect documents via the following steps:

  1. In the Control Panel, click Grade Center, and select either Full Grade Center. As an alternative, you can select Needs Grading if you have yet to grade the assessment.
  2. Click the chevron for the attempt, and select View Grade Details.
  3. On the Grade Details page, click the Clear Attempt button for the attempt that you wish to remove. Click OK to confirm your intention.

For illustrated instructions and more information about managing attempts, see the Faculty Tutorial on Clearing Assessment Attempts.

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Bugs and Errors:

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.

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Steps to Fix Invalid HTML Error

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

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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.  

Wimba Failed

NOTE: Users who encounter this cannot interact with the voice interface at all, even just to listen, without exercising the work-around.

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"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.

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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.

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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.

If you place the PDF into the course using the Build Content > File option, it may cause the PDF issue in Safari and Firefox.

File Attachment


  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.
    Item Attachment
    Browse Attachment
  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.


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.

Slide Share Blank


  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 this PDF tutorial for a printable version of this topic.

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Application Blocked By Java Security

This issue is commonly seen when trying to access the Collaboration Virtual Classrooms.

View the PDF tutorial for a printable version or the Video tutorial for more information about this issue.

Java Security

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Horizontal Scroll Bar Missing in Grade Center (Macintosh OS X)

Even if there are more columns in the Grade Center grid than can fit in the horizontal space provided, sometimes on a Macintosh system the web browser does not provide a horizontal scroll bar to view the desired columns. The scroll bar may be missing for only one course but appear in others. This phenomenon, first documented in Blackboard Learn 9.1, SP 11 (2013) has been observed with Apple Safari and Google Chrome browsers.

Research has discovered two workarounds, either of which may bring the scroll bar back:

  1. Within Blackboard, in Full Grade Center, click the Edit Rows Displayed button, and set the number to 50 (the maximum allowed), and click Go. If the class contains fewer than 50 students, this will not create blank rows to make up the difference, but the scroll bar should reappear when the grid refreshes.
    Edit Rows Displayed
    Set Rows Displayed to 50
  2. You may also change a setting in Macintosh's General System Preferences. Beginning with OS 10.7 (Lion), the Macintosh system began keeping scroll bars hidden until a mouse pointed to them. Users may modify the setting to display scroll bars at all times, even when they are clearly not needed. Open System Preferences, either from the Dock or the Apple Menu; click the General icon; change the Show scroll bars setting to Always.
    On General System Preferences, set Show scroll bars to Always

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Empty Documents Uploaded via Microsoft Edge Browser

Users of Microsoft's Edge browser for Windows 10 and above should make certain that documents they submit via Blackboard's Assignment tool are not open at the time of the upload. If the file is open on the same device, it will upload to Blackboard as an empty document.

Microsoft has not yet reported a fix for this phenomenon as of this writing.

As an alternative, students may use the Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox browser, both of which Blackboard's development team recommends for use with Blackboard Learn.

If a student uploads an empty document, and additional attempts are not available, an instructor may clear the attempt and allow the student to try again. See the Faculty Tutorial on Clearing Assessment Attempts for more information.

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