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Edition 2: 7th November 2011


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<B>Welcome to the second edition of the Blackboard Bulletin</B>

This second edition of the Blackboard Bulletin is based on the theme of communication and collaboration.
Top tips with workarounds for known issues and user statistics are also included below.




UPDATE: Semester 2 Modules

You can revise your Semester 2 10/11 modules within Blackboard Learn up until Friday 11th November. DO NOT make any further revisions after this date. From the 11th November we will start to copy the 10/11 content into the new 11/12 modules, with the updated CRNs. This process should take approximately 2-5 days. We will send an all-staff email notification when the 11/12 modules are available to request via the Module Access Request System.


New Training Opportunities

A range of new Blackboard Learn training opportunities are now available across all campuses. These cater for a range of user needs, including new users, teaching and learning themed training and general support. Details are available from the Training Events Calendar.

The Educational Technology Seminar series includes a lunchtime seminar about Blackboard Mobile Learn across all campuses - Blackboard Learn Goes Mobile.

Useful Tools


Information about all Blackboard Learn tools is available from the Blackboard Learn Staff Orientation Course within Blackboard Learn, including a working example of each tool, further support information and video tutorials.

Blogs: Create regular formative tasks

The Blog can be used effectively to create regular formative tasks throughout the semester. You provide the instructions and then each student can post their submission(s) (written, visual, audio, video, etc.) via the Text Editor. Students can comment on all postings and you can provide individual or general feedback by adding comments. You can assess the Blog task by associating a low-stake grade - therefore embedding formative assessment and feedback into your teaching practice.

Wikis: Encourage collaboration

The Wiki tool provides a collaborative space where students can work together to create a piece of work. Each student can add their own contribution by editing the Wiki space and adding comments. The Wiki keeps a record of all changes so that overall progress and individual effort can be tracked. You can grade and provide feedback to each student within the Wiki, or provide general feedback by adding comments to the Wiki.


Tip: Managing Blogs and Wikis

The Blog and Wiki tools can be added to course content using the Add Interaction Tool link from the top Action Bar menu. They can also be managed via the Course Tools link on the Control Panel - which is a useful place to manage all your Blackboard Learn tools.


Send Email: Communicate directly with your students

Blackboard Learn integrates with the University of Ulster email system, so that emails can be sent to your students from within your module/course area. This could be useful to communicate announcements, reminders, notifications, or alerts with regard to your course/module, e.g. an assessment due date. The email is sent to the student's default Ulster email address. A record of the email is not stored within Blackboard Learn, however a copy of the email can be sent to your email address.


The internal Mail tool in WebCT is now called Messages in Blackboard Learn, with similar functionality.


Portfolios: Enable students to document their progress

The Portfolio tool enables the collection and organisation of pieces of work completed over time. They can provide compilations of work with a general purpose or goal to showcase progress and achievement. Students can access tools to present their information in a cohesive, personalised format.

Rubrics: Clarify and communicate assessment criteria

A Rubric is a tool that lists evaluation criteria for an assignment. Rubrics can help students organise their efforts to meet the requirements of an assignment. You can use Rubrics to explain your evaluations to students.

Mashups: Free source of copyright compliant images

Mashups in Blackboard Learn allow you to embed digital interactive web content to your course content, including Flickr images, YouTube videos and SlideShare presentations. These can be displayed and viewed from within your content. The Flickr images give you access to a bank of images that are free to use and are copyright compliant (by selecting Creative Commons Content only from the additional search options). Mashups can be added to a page of content via the top Action Bar Menu Build Content option, or from the Mashup icon within the Blackbaord Learn Text Editor.

Paste from Word: Control the presentation of content via Text Editor

A new tool called Paste from Word is now available in Blackboard Learn. This allows you to add content from Microsoft Word into the Visual Text Editor in Blackboard Learn whilst removing any unwanted tags/scripts/formatting from the content. This means that you should have full control of formatting your text via the Text Editor. Paste from Word is available from the Add Mashup icon within the Text Editor.

Notifications Dashboard: Keep track of module/course activity

The Notifications Dashboard collates new content and alerts from within all your module areas, providing a convenient dashboard view of all the changes within your modules. It consists of four areas - Needs Attention, Alerts, What's New and To Do. For example, submitted assignments are displayed via Needs Attention and new discussion postings via What's New.

The Notifications Dashboard is available to both staff and students. It can be accessed via the Notifications Dashboard link at the top left of the My Institution landing page within Blackboard Learn.

Top Tips

This section highlights some of the top issues with regard to using Blackboard Learn with workaround fixes detailed.


The online Ulster Blackboard Learn Helpdesk is available at


Blackboard Learn workflow: Add Test Student is now available

A Test Student is now available to add to your course/module. You can use the Add Test Student functionality to test the workflow and management of communication, collaboration and assessment tools in Blackboard Learn.

Programme Support Area: Managing enrolments/requesting access

Programme Support Areas can be requested via the Module Access Request System. When a Programme Support Area is created, the owner (who requested it) has the ability to manage the enrolments for the area. They can add, edit or remove access for individuals with Instructor, Course Builder or Marker roles. This is managed via the Module Access Request System.

If you require access to an existing Programme Support Area, please contact the owner of the area, so they can use the Module Access Request System to give you access.

Using Tests: Tips to ensure students submit Tests successfully

It is recommended that the Force Completion Test option is NOT selected. This enables students to re-access a Test if the network connection happened to fail. Please check that the Force Completion option is NOT selected on Tests which have been migrated from WebCT. You can check this via the Test Action Menu and selecting Edit the Test Options.

Blackboard Learn recommends that students DO NOT refresh the page, close the window, or click the browser's back button while taking a Test or any other assessment.

If a student is unable to view a Test using Groups, please ensure that the student is part of the group via the Groups link via Users and Groups on the Control Panel. The student may have enrolled on the course/module after the Groups were set up.

Solution: Unable to access Turnitin - Already a User error

If you have previously used Turnitin you may get an error when trying to use Turnitin within Blackboard Learn. This is because your email address is already attached to an account in the Turnitin database. To solve this you need to log in to the Turnitin website at Select User Info (from the black menu at the top right of the screen) and change your email address. Once this is done you should have access to Turnitin assignments in Blackboard Learn. Note: this will disable your previous account. If you need further help or want to merge both accounts, please contact the Turnitin Helpdesk at:


Tip: Turnitin Inbox

Turnitin submissions can be managed from the TurnitinUK Assignments link in Course Tools in the Control Panel.


Solution: Unable to view PDFs using a Mac (Safari browser)

Mac users with the latest version of Safari may see a message saying Missing Plugin when viewing PDF files in Blackboard Learn. A third party plug-in is available to solve this issue, detailed in the link below.

Upload feedback to your students via the Grade Centre

You can compose feedback to your students outside Blackboard Learn and upload it into the Grade Centre so that it is visible to your students via their My Grades.



1) Download the relevant column information from the Grade Centre.

  • Select Download from the Work Offline button at the top right of the Grade Centre.
  • Tick the Selected Column option and select the column you require from the dropdown list.
  • Tick Include Comments for this Column.

2) Add/copy your feedback comments into the downloaded file and then upload into the Grade Centre.

  • You need to type SMART_TEXT into each row under the Notes Format and Feedback Format columns in the file.
  • Save and upload the file via the Upload Work Offline link.
  • Ensure the name of file remains the same.

The information should then be available to instructors in the Grade Centre and to students in their My Grades.


Deploying tailored collaboration tools to Groups

You are able to deploy tailored collaboration tool (Blog, Journal, Wiki or Discussion Board) to a Group or several Group areas. Ensure your Groups are set up, then create your tailored collaboration tool, with any specific instructions, in a content area. Select Adaptive Release: Advanced from the collaboration tools Action Menu . Click Select Rule, give the rule a name and click Submit. Click on Create Criteria and select Membership. You can then select the groups in which you want the tool to appear.

Discussion Boards: Bulk deletion of migrated postings

You can delete all existing postings from a Discussion Board using the Bulk Delete link from Packages and Utilities in the Control Panel. You can also delete content from other tools, including Announcements, Messages and Grade Centre columns. This could be useful when tidying up content in a migrated course from WebCT. Please take care to only delete content that you will no longer require.

Check the validity of web links in your course/module

You can check if all the web links in your course or modules area are valid using the Link Checker available from the Course Tools area in the Control Panel. Note: this doesn't search for web links within attached files such as HTML pages, DOCs, PPTs or PDFs.

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Tips when creating a new course/module

The attached pdf file provides some tips on creating a new course/module area in Blackboard Learn.

  • Link to PDF

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User Statistics

Blackboard Learn usage statistics (17th October 2011 - 30th October 2011)

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<TABLE id="table1">
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  <TD mce_style="background:#bae3ef;" style="background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% rgb(186, 227, 239);">&nbsp;&nbsp;Active sessions (average per day)&nbsp;&nbsp;</TD>
 <TD mce_style="background:#d5f0f8;" style="background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% rgb(213, 240, 248);"><B>&nbsp;&nbsp;12,800&nbsp;&nbsp;</B></TD>
 <TR height="35px">
   <TD mce_style="background:#bae3ef;" style="background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% rgb(186, 227, 239);">&nbsp;&nbsp;Unique users (average per day)   </TD>
 <TD mce_style="background:#d5f0f8;" style="background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% rgb(213, 240, 248);"><B>&nbsp;&nbsp;7,866&nbsp;&nbsp;</B></TD>
 <TR height="35px">
  <TD mce_style="background:#bae3ef;" style="background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% rgb(186, 227, 239);">&nbsp;&nbsp;Peak usage (concurrent users per hour)&nbsp;&nbsp;</TD>
 <TD mce_style="background:#d5f0f8;" style="background: none repeat scroll 0% 0% rgb(213, 240, 248);"><B>&nbsp;&nbsp;1,786&nbsp;&nbsp;</B></TD>
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