Reason 21 for using Blackboard – make up snow days!

Today’s snow showers reminded me that I wanted to post about another reason for using Blackboard.

If you need reasons for using Blackboard we presented 20 reasons for using Blackboard during Wentworth Opening Week. Tuesday’s storm added another reason to use Blackboard – snow days!

If you are looking to make up lost class time consider using Blackboard to deliver some content to your students – think lecture content you can find on sites such as YouTube and Ted Talks, interactive slideshows you can create on VoiceThread, or even lecture recordings you can create with Echo360 Personal Capture.

Once you have content provided to your students add an assignment or activity that requires your students to interact with the content such as a discussion forum, problem set, or quiz to encourage students to engage with the content you’ve shifted to Blackboard.

If you want to use Blackboard to make up this week’s snow days and need help, stop by our office in Annex Central 205 and we’ll be glad to help you.

Copy or Import Course Content

Spring courses start this week and if you haven’t started adding content to your Blackboard site you may want to consider copying or importing a past semester’s content. Both options will allow you to batch process content and add it to the current term’s Blackboard site, the difference is in the process and details.

Copying a course is relatively easy and we have documentation for that process. Basically, enter the course that has the content you want to copy, select what you want to copy, click submit and wait for Blackboard to e-mail you that the copy process has completed. The linked instructions recommend clicking select all for what to copy. Using the select all option is OK if you have a completely empty shell. If a template has been applied, you will want to select the individual items and make sure that the Settings section is deselected – specifically the navigation settings. If the navigation settings option is selected, you may have duplicated menu items, causing confusion and creating a clean up task.

Exporting and importing a course is also easy but it’s a two step process. Use this process when you want to maintain a clean master copy of a course – you can export a Blackboard Site and store it on your computer or a network drive for archival purposes – or if you need to copy a course from a colleague to have consistent content across sections. (Your colleague will have to export the course and share the export file with you – or contact LIT for assistance). Again, we have documentation for the export and import process. Overall, both steps are similar to a course copy. When exporting, you select what to export, just like the course copy. When importing, you select what to import, again the same as a course copy.

These are just two options to add content to your Blackboard course site. Other options exist and will be discussed in my next post.

As always, if you need additional assistance contact the LIT team at

Clean up My Courses

Finals and grading are done for another term, but you have a bunch of old courses listed on Blackboard. It’s time for a bit of end of term clean up for your My Courses module. Because we now categorize courses by term you can sort your courses by term (which was the topic of an earlier post) and select which terms and even which specific courses to show in the My Courses module.

If you don’t want to see courses from last fall you can make them disappear (and reappear if you find you need them).

To choose which courses appear on the My Courses module click on the settings icon for the module (it looks like a gear at the upper right corner of the module).

Settings button location for My Courses module.

My Courses module with settings icon indicated.

On the Personalize My Courses page, deselect the courses you don’t want to see listed:

Deselect a course by unchecking all the check boxes next to the course name.

Edit course list with deselected course highlighted.

Once you’ve deselected the courses you want to remove from My Courses, click the submit button to activate the change. If you want to re-enable the courses, reverse this process.

Blackboard access to courses restored.

Blackboard has resolved the earlier problem and Blackboard courses are now available at this time.

Blackboard course access issues

We are currently experiencing problems accessing Blackboard courses. Users are able to login to Blackboard but when they click on a link to any course in the My Courses module, they receive a screen reading “ERR”.

We have contacted Blackboard and they are working on the problem.

Lynda Learning Now Available on Blackboard

As of this morning you can now add Lynda Learning video tutorials to your Blackboard course sites in addition to video tutorials from Atomic Learning. Using the new building block you can select specific courses for your students to watch as part of your course.

To add video content with this new tool navigate to a content area in Blackboard and select the “Build Content” menu. On the bottom right, under Mashups, you’ll see the new tool:

Blackboard Build Content menu with Mashup highlighted

Blackboard Build Content menu showing New tool.

When selected, the first time you will be redirected to our custom login page. Next you will be prompted to search for the course you want students to watch. Once you select a course to add to your site, the link will be inserted into the Blackboard page.

For a list of and Atomic Learning videos related to software on Wentworth laptops see the list at:


Blackboard Emergency Maintenance Tonight – December 16th 1-5 AM

Blackboard Managed Hosting Support has determined that they need to do emergency system maintenance to address the problems encountered earlier today.

To accommodate this work Blackboard will be unavailable from 1-5 AM Tuesday, December 16th.

VoiceThread Training in January

Just a short post…

You can connect to VoiceThreads in Blackboard with a building block. The link to the tool is under the the Build Content menu – Mashups – Wentworth VoiceThread.

If you’re interested in learning more about the tool, VoiceThread is offering several workshops in January:


Grade Center – Part II

The end of term is upon us – YIKES! Time to calculate grades.

If you use Blackboard’s testing or assignments tools to have your students submit work you probably are familiar with the Grade Center and may even have figured out how to calculate grades. If so, you can skip this next bit, if not, continue reading. Blackboard CAN calculate grades however all the options available can be intimidating. Due to the wide variation in how different instructors calculate grades I can’t cover all the possible scenarios. However, next week, December 15th – 19th, Ron and I will be available to assist you with setting up grade calculations so you can have Blackboard calculate your grades. We are being very flexible – no appointments necessary.

Once you have your grades calculated in Blackboard you may want to download a copy for your records. That’s a relatively easy task. To do that you’ll use the “Work Offline” button that’s located on the far right side of the Full Grade Center.

Grade Center menus highlighting the Work Offline button location

Grade Center Action Bar with Work Offline button highlighted







Click on the Work Offline button and select Download:

Work Offline Menu showing upload and download options

Work Offline menu options







When the Download Grades page appears, select the Full Grade Center option to package all the student information and Grade Center columns:

Download Grades page with download Full Grade Center selected

Download Grades page, data section

In the Options section select the delimiter type either comma or tab. Selecting Tab-delimited results in a file that can be directly opened in Excel. A comma delimited file will import into Excel. For the Save location, select “My Computer”.

Download Grades Options section showing delimiter type and download location

Download Grades page, options section

Click the Submit button to generate the download file.

Click on the Download button on the next screen to save the file to your local computer.


Spring is on the way…

I know, I know it’s still fall semester courses and you aren’t thinking about spring yet. However, if you haven’t noticed, spring courses are now appearing in Blackboard. Since some instructors will want to get a jump on planning and populating course sites before January, I wanted to remind everyone of a  couple options available to them.

First, we have a template that you can add to your site. The template is based on the Sloan Consortium’s best practices for online courses and provides appropriate structure and support for your students. The template not only provides structure but makes suggestions for materials that will help your students succeed. Read more about this template and what it can do for you and your students. If you’d like us to add the template to your site please e-mail us at letting us know which courses you want the template applied to and we’ll queue up your request.

Second, if you are planning on having multiple course sites merged into one, we need to know early, before you begin to add content. Movement of students between sections during add/drop can cause enrollments to be disabled even when a student has an active enrollment in one of the sections. To avoid this problem we’ve learned it is best practice to create a new site and merge the section enrollments into that site. The parent site has no enrollments of its own so changes in the child sites can be propagated back to the parent site without causing problems. To request that your courses be merged please submit this form.

If you plan on using technology in your course and you know you or your students will need support, please let us know ASAP so we can schedule time to discuss your plans and identify needed resources before the semester starts.