Blackboard Grader App for iOS

There is finally an app for Blackboard that has been designed with the online instructors in mind. The Blackboard Grader App is now available and gives instructors an option for reviewing, providing feedback, and grading student submissions to Blackboard Learn Assignments.BbGrader_hero2_tcm21-7049

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Blackboard Upgrade Scheduled – Friday, August 15

On Friday, August 15, we will be conducting an update to our Blackboard Learn 9.1 system (  We are upgrading from Service Pack 13 to the April 2014 Release.

The update is currently scheduled to begin at 4:00 pm (CDT) on Friday, August 15, 2014.  The system will be unavailable for approximately 15 hours during the update.  The system is expected to be fully up and running by 7:00 am (CDT) on Saturday, August 16, 2014.

There should not be any noticeable formatting changes to the Blackboard system and all of your course materials will remain intact through this update.  However, there are a couple of exciting new features that will accompany this update (see below).  As always, there are some bug fixes that will aid in resolving ongoing issues.

Two exciting new features added to Blackboard:

  1. SafeAssign Integration

The SafeAssign feature (for plagiarism detection) has been integrated into the Assignment object so it will be possible to check a box on an assignment for a SafeAssign report to be generated.  This also means that instructors can use in-line grading on these assignments, eliminating the need to create separate assignments for each purpose (plagiarism detection AND in-line grading).

Click here for more information and a short video:

Note that existing SafeAssignments will be converted to Assignments with plagiarism detection turned on.


  1. Student Preview

There is also an easier to use feature that allows instructors to switch between a student view and back again.  We have a feature installed that does this clumsily but now it will be available at the click of a button: one click to switch to a REAL student view and then a click to switch back.

Click here for more information and demo:


If you have any questions, please let us know using the Instructor Help Request Form

Proctoring Options – Blackboard Training Webinar Recording

Spring Training Workshops

On Tuesday, April 22, 2014, we conducted our third Spring Training webinar of 2014 with a session on “Proctoring Options (Including Remote Proctor Now)”  Here is a recording of that session.

Watch the Recording

4-28-2014 4-36-34 PM

Description: During this session, we discuss the test proctoring process and new options available for faculty who give proctored exams.  With Secure Remote Proctor, students can complete proctored examinations at home while they are recorded using a webcam.  The videos are reviewed and a report documenting any suspicious behavior is provided to the instructor.  We present how to set up your exams for Remote Proctor and review the reports.

Test Creation – Blackboard Training Webinar Recording

Spring Training Workshops

On Tuesday, April 15, 2014, we conducted our second Spring Training webinar of 2014 with a session on “Test Creation and Importing.”  Here is a recording of that session.

Watch the Recording

Description: There are wide variety of ways to create tests within Blackboard.  There are also a number of different resources available through publishers for importing tests.  Dr. Trifilo will walk us through these options and help clarify the settings for assessments in Blackboard.

Kaltura – Blackboard Training Webinar Recording

Spring Training Workshops

On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, we conducted our first Spring Training webinar of 2014 with a session on “Creating and Uploading Your Own Media with Kaltura.”  Here is a recording of that session. We’ve also included links to the handouts for the session.

Watch the Recording
4-14-2014 2-40-22 PM

Download the PDFs:
Introduction to Kaltura
Kaltura_adding saved media
Kaltura_Recording the screen

Readspeaker Added to Blackboard

download (1)We have just finished our testing of a new feature within Blackboard which will allow all users to highlight sections of text on their screen and then click a “Listen” or “Play” button to have their computer read the text aloud.  This feature is called ReadSpeaker and you will now see a couple of new options appear on your screen while logged into Blackboard at Wayland.

You will find the ReadSpeaker Icon and control panel in the upper right area of the classroom near the edit button (as an instructor) when you first open your classroom. There is also a small activate/deactivate button in the top center of the page (it is an on or off button).

Activate/deactivate button:
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ReadSpeaker Control Panel:
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The Listen Icon/button is on the small control panel that can be customized by the learner using it. It can also be moved to a different location on the page.

Students wanting text read should highlight the text and click “Listen.”  That’s it. That’s all it takes to use the features.  Students not wanting ReadSpeaker can choose to deactivate it using the toggle switch at the top of the screen.  Turning it off will cause the ReadSpeaker control panel to disappear.

For more details read our ReadSpeaker Faculty Support article.

Intermittent Issues with Grading Assignments and Accessing Blogs/Journals and Wikis (RESOLVED)

Beginning on Friday afternoon (Dec. 13, 2013), we began experiencing intermittent issues with instructors not being able to access the grading area for assignments. Additionally, blogs, journals, and wikis have been reported as being inaccessible for many users.

When attempting to grade or access these areas, an error of the following form is returned:
An error occurred. Contact the System Administrator.
For reference, the Error ID is 06992393-ec4a-4c2b-b52f-f89a528e50a2.
Friday, December 13, 2013 5:32:20 PM CST

We were able to recreate the issue in the VC but verified that it was intermittent. In other words, it would return an error for several minutes and then begin working correctly again.  Eventually the error would begin recurring.  The issue has been reported to Blackboard and they are working to resolve it as quickly as possible.

UPDATE: This issue has been fully resolved. Grading and blogs/journal/wikis are fully functional. (10:00am 12/14/13)

Internet Explorer 11 and Blogs/Journals

We have received some reports of errors occurring with the Blogs and Journals tool in Blackboard when accessed through Internet Explorer 11.  Since many of our faculty were recently update to IE11, this may be affecting some of our online instructors.  This affects not only instructors but also students in the course.

If you use Journals in your course, you will be unable to access them through IE11.  The following error will pop-up and your browser will automatically reload the course in Blackboard, taking you back to the Announcements page.

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If you or a student encounter this issue, we are recommending at this time that you use an alternate browser, such as Firefox or Chrome.  

A similar problem has been reported with the Discussion Board, but at this time we have not been able to reproduce the issue within the Virtual Campus.

Contact with the Virtual Campus if you have any additional questions or issues.

New Blackboard Features Rolling Out

bb.jpgIt’s so much easier to remember the bumps in the road rather than the smooth patches.  The Virtual Campus had one of those bumps with the recent upgrade to Service Pack 13 in August.  Many of our online instructors were bitten by a short-lived bug that prevented the deletion of discussion board forums and posts in copied courses.  Fortunately, Blackboard Managed Hosting worked quickly to resolve the issue.  Any piece of software as complex as Blackboard is sure to offer it’s fair share of bugs and glitches.

The good news is that Blackboard continues to innovate and provide advances in major new features to their course management system.  Plus, the Virtual Campus is always looking for new ways to improve the online learning experience of our students.

So, here are just a handful of new features that are either available now, or coming very soon:

Inline Grading (available now)

Now, you can now grade your students’ uploaded documents directly in Blackboard.  For many years, instructors have had to download students’ papers, use Word to provide comments and corrections, then either upload the revision or email the student the feedback.  Now, with Inline Grade, instructors can add their comments, corrections, and even draw annotations on their documents directly through the browser in Blackboard.
Learn More ->

Blackboard Collaborate (available now)

The Blackboard Collaborate feature has received an upgrade.  Every course now has an updated look to the Blackboard Collaborate tool which allows instructors easier workflow for setting up synchronous class meetings.  Plus, every course has a dedicated “Course Room” and each instructor has their own room as well.  Also, Collaborate now features built-in telephony so that participants in your meetings can connect via telephone.
Learn More->

Kaltura Media Hosting (coming soon)

Coming very soon, the Virtual Campus will be announcing a new tool integrated into Blackboard where instructors can upload their videos, record from their webcam and record their screen directly into Blackboard.  The tool will be called Kaltura Media and will provide media hosting embedded in Blackboard for all your online video content. We are in the final stages of testing with a pilot group of instructors and will soon be launching this tool system-wide. Stay tuned for more on this feature!

Date Management (coming soon!)

How would you like to be able change all the due dates and availability dates for your course on the same page? Blackboard has just released a feature called “Date Management” which will analyze your course and find all availability and assignment due dates.  Then, from one master page, you’ll be able to adjust all those dates by a specific number of days or individually review and update them.  This feature is currently being tested on our system and will likely be available in the next few weeks.
Learn More ->

Powerful Powerpoints

When students access a PPT file in Blackboard, they have to

  1. download the file
  2. open it in MS Powerpoint (which requires them to also have the program)
  3. then view the file as a show

There are BETTER options for sharing your PowerPoint presentations.

Saving your presentations as a Powerpoint show (PPS) file will eliminate the need to open the file in Powerpoint (but still requires students to download the file).  Students who do not have Powerpoint on their computers, can still view the show through Microsoft’s free Powerpoint viewer.


For instant access that does not require students to download a file in order to see your PowerPoint Presentation, consider saving it as a pdf file.


If you are not sure which option is best for you, consider uploading in both formats.


For optimal Powerpoint viewing, remember to save as a pps or pdf.  PPT is an option that should only be used if you need for students to have the ability to edit and revise the file you are sharing.