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Blackboard FAQ for Instructors

Making Courses Available to Students

By default, all courses created in Blackboard are initially set to be unavailable to students. As the instructor, you have full access the course, but your students will not see your course on their course list in Blackboard until you make the course available. Unavailable courses can be easily identified in your “My Courses” module as they are marked “unavailable” directly in the module.

To make your courses available to students, go into the control panel of the course, then click Settings. On the page that follows, choose “Course Availability”. Set the option to “Yes”, and then click “Submit”. Your course will then be accessible by students.

How do I get my Blackboard username and password?

Blackboard usernames and passwords are generated automatically for full-time instructors. Adjunct instructors are welcome to use Blackboard, but the process is not automatic. A USI email account is necessary for creating Blackboard credentials, so adjunct instructors need to contact their departments to make this request.

Instructions for logging into USI Blackboard, along with username and password information, can be found here.

How do I remove old courses from my Blackboard listings?

After logging into Blackboard, click the pencil icon in the upper right hand corner. On the page that follows, you'll see that each course on your list has a "Display Course Name" and "Display Announcements" check box next to it. Uncheck both box for the courses you don't want on your list, then click Submit.

Do I need to request my course site be populated each term?

No, the population of term-sepcific course sites with registered students is automatic. Simply build the course site and make it available to students.

Will students automatically get access to my course?

No. After building the course site, instructors must make course site available to registered students via the course control panel (Settings -> Course Availability).

 

What kind of training is available for faculty?

Training includes information on how to develop online course content using Blackboard, how to manage online courses, and teaching strategies for an online learning environment. Regular workshops and project development sessions are available. For a list of scheduled training sessions and to sign up, click here.

 

What is SafeAssignment? How does it work?

SafeAssignnemt is a tool available to you through Blackboard that compares submitted assignments against a set of academic papers to identify areas of overlap between the submitted assignment and existing works. SafeAssign can be used to prevent plagiarism and to create opportunities to help students identify how to properly attribute sources rather than paraphrase.

Instructors who are interested in learning more about SafeAssignment and how it works are encouraged to download and review the SafeAssign Instructor's Manual. The manual contains detailed instructions on how to set up, use, and review SafeAssignments, and also details how those assignments are checked against the SafeAssignment database of existing works. 

Am I able to have students from multiple course sections placed into a single Blackboard course site?

Not automatically. Rosters can be copied across sections using the Course Copy feature.

 

I am an adjunct faculty member. Can I use Blackboard?

Yes. All that is needed is a USI email account. Please contact your department chair to complete the necessary paperwork with the Computer Center. Once this email is on record, you will have access to your course sites each term. You are also welcome to participate in any of the faculty training sessions offered this term. Please visit http://www.usi.edu/learning for details.

 

What if my course section number changes at the last minute?

If you have built a course site for a particular section, and that section changes at the last minute, you will need to rebuild a new site. If you have access to the old site, you can copy the information from the old site to the new using the Course Copy feature. If you have not yet built the course site, then there is no problem--simply build it using the new section number.

 

How do I reuse course site content from term to term?

Term-specific course site shells are generated each term. You will need to move the existing content from a prior term’s course site to the new shell. This is a quick process using the Course Copy function in the control panel.

 

Can I share course content with colleagues?

Yes, you can share course content with colleagues by using the Course Export and Course Import features in Blackboard, or by enrolling colleagues into your course site and granting them the level of access you deem appropriate (Instructor, Course Builder, Student, etc...).

 

Under what circumstances are students removed from my course?

If a student is, for some reason, dropped from the course through the Registrar's Office, then he will not be able to access the corresponding Blackboard course site. He will not be dropped from the gradebook, however, so once he is reinstated into your course, all grades will have been retained.

 

Can students or faculty change/update their email address in Blackboard?

No. Users do not have the ability to change their email information directly in the Blackboard database. This information comes directly to Blackboard from the Registrar’s Office/Computer Center.

Users who wish not to use their mail.usi.edu email account may forward their mail.usi.edu email to their personal email account or usi.edu account. Instructions for doing this are found over at the MyUSI portal. Please remind your students to forward their email on the first day of class so that they do not miss important messages from you and the University.

 

Can I submit final grades through Blackboard?

No. Online grade submission is handled through MyUSI.

 

What is the difference between the Digital Drop Box and Assignment Manager?

Essentially, the Digital Drop Box facilitates electronic file submission for Blackboard. The Assignment Manager facilitates electronic submission, grading, and return of assignments by linking with the online gradebook.

 

How long does Blackboard keep course statistics?

Blackboard course statistics are kept through the semester. They are purged the business day before the start of the following term. This is done because it has been found that an excessive amount of system statistics have caused problems with Blackboard.

 

I have a student auditing one of my classes, how will (s)he be enrolled?

Audit students are special cases in that they are not processed by Banner, so they are not automatically enrolled into your course. If they already have a USI Blackboard account, you can manually enroll them into the course using the “Enroll User” link in the course control panel. If the student does not yet have a USI Blackboard account, (s)he will have to contact the Computer Center to be given a USI username. USI Blackboard Support can then be contacted to create an account for the user on Bb. Once the account is created, you can add the student normally.

I have students getting disconnected from exams, what can I do?

Unfortunately, students getting disconnected from exams is part of testing over the internet. Blackboard requires that a student's connection to the server be stable and uninterrupted during the course of an exam. Even a brief disconnection between the student's computer and the Blackboard server can cause Blackboard to lock the student out of their exam. Data collected over the past years of Blackboard use suggest that instructors can expect to see a 10%-15% lockout rate per test given. While we cannot completely prevent this from happening, we do offer a list of best practices that you are welcome to share with your students to minimize their chance of getting locked out of a Blackboard exam.

These are:

  • Use a wired connection to the internet. Wireless connections can be very unstable, and even a brief loss of connectivity can lock you out of your exam.
  • Close all open programs before taking an exam. Open programs may interfere with your connection to Blackboard, resulting in a lockout.
  • Close all background programs that connect to the internet. Programs running in the background that connect to the internet, such as Limewire, iTunes, etc... may cause your secure connection to Blackboard to be lost, resulting in a lockout.
  • As you take an exam, keep track of your answers outside of Blackboard. This way, if your connection is lost, you still have your answers and can easily re-enter them when your test is reset.
  • If you are on a home network that others are using, try taking your exam at a time when your network is being lighty used by others. If some other computer, video game console, or consumer electronics product with wireless capabilites is heavily utilizing the network, then you may lose your connection to Blackboard, resulting in a lockout.

Who can I contact for additional Blackboard support?

If you have any questions concerning Blackboard that are not covered here, please email USI Blackboard Support at it@usi.edu. If you would like to speak to a support technician, you can call (812) 465-1080 during normal USI business hours (8am-4:30pm, Monday-Friday).

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