Category Archives: Blackboard

Embed or Email Video Messages with EyeJot

Eyejot is a FANTASTIC and FREE tool that is super handy for online instructors. You can use Eyejoy to embed or email short (5 minutes or less) videos to your students. Check out how Jack Kinworthy is using Eyejot to introduce his macroeconomics course (I only included the first minute of his message):


Notice how we embedded Jack’s video right into the new version of Blackboard!

Using Eyejot couldn’t be easier. Just visit the site ( and create a free account. Go to the messages section and click “Compose New Message.”

Allow Eyejot to enable your webcam.

Click the red record button and start talking! You can then add email addresses by entering them in the address box and clicking “add.” Then click “send Eyejot.” If you want to embed the video in Blackboard, send it to yourself.

You (or Whoever you sent the Eyejot to) will get an Eyejot in your email. If you want to embed in Blackboard, click on the image or where it says “here.” You will then be taken to a page that will allow you to copy the embed  code. If you need more instructions from there, contact me and I’ll be happy to help!

Copy the embed code under “Embed this message.”

Quick Tip: Posting YouTube Videos in Blackboard

If you have tried to link to a YouTube video in Blackboard, you may have noticed that it doesn’t open when clicked.

Quick Tip:

When creating the link in “Web Links,” make sure you check the box that says, “open link in a new window.” This will ensure that your YouTube video opens successfully.

Blackboard: Save as Draft

In my last post, I touched on the “Save as Draft” option in Blackboard. Most often, this comes into play by accident… a student thinks he/she is clicking “Submit,” but actually clicks “Save as Draft.” As mentioned in my previous post, this will result in the draft being auto-submitted once the cutoff date is reached for the assignment. However, Save as Draft also serves a purpose, and should be utilized by the student from time to time. A situation occurred recently where a student was completing an online assessment, clicked save, and her response disappeared. While we cannot be certain what happened, it is very likely that the student was typing a long response, thinking for a while, and/or stepped away from the computer at some point. Any combination of these things lasting for a period of 40 minutes or more will result in the Blackboard session becoming inactive. I would recommend that you pass this information on to your students, and urge them to use the Save as Draft feature to ensure that their work does not dissapear.

Bb Assignments: Unsubmitted, Missed, and Late


When you ask students to submit assignments electronically, you will inevitably run into the situation where Blackboard shows that an assignment has not been submitted, but the student emphatically argues that it was submitted. So, what do you do?

First, check the tracking data. From the “Teach” tab, click “Tracking” under “Instructor Tools.” This will provide you with the option of generating a student report for a specified time range. Using this report, you can actually see when a student accessed Blackboard, and whether or not an assignment was submitted (among other things). So, for example, if the student tells you he submitted the assignment on March 7, but the report doesn’t even show that he accessed Blackboard on that date, then you can stand by your missed assignment policy. Or, even if Blackboard was accessed on March 7, if it doesn’t indicate there was a submission, you can also be assured that the assignment wasn’t submitted.

Let’s say that the student did access Blackboard on the date specified, but it only shows that he read the assignment. Further complicating the issue is that there is an assignment in the assignment dropbox, but it is marked by Blackboard as “Missed.” This means the student clicked “Save as Draft” instead of “Save.” When the cutoff date is reached, Blackboard will auto-push drafts and mark them as “Missed.” “Missed” is different from “Late,” which means the assignment was submitted after the due date, but before the cutoff date.

Ultimately, when faced with a student excuse, it will be up to you to use your professional judgment when deciding how to proceed. However, don’t hesitate to use Blackboard’s tools to assist in making a decision!

Importing Test Banks

There are many publishers who offer test banks that can be imported into Blackboard. Often, instructors are confused, not about the steps for importing these test banks, but about the format that should be chosen. For example, an instructor today had to choose from the following TestGen formats:

Blackboard 5x, 6x, 7x
WebCT 3x
WebCT 4x
QT/WebCt6e, WebCTVIS

Most of our instructors would be tempted to choose Blackboard because, well, we use Blackboard! However, our version is actually a WebCT Vista version. Therefore, this instructor had to choose the last option. If a campus edition 8.0 option is unavailable, try 6 (as in this example), which usually works.

If you are unfamiliar with how to import test banks, here are the instructions:

  1. Log into your Blackboard course, click the Build tab.
  2. Select Manage Course from the Designer Tools area.
  3. Select Import.
  4. Select My Computer from the Get Files dialog box, and locate and select the .zip file.
  5. You will be given a Content Import Progress screen that will let you know when the file is imported.
  6. Click the Return button.
  7. Your imported test will be in the Assessments area from the Build tab.


A Lesson on Browsers and Blackboard


So, what is a browser? A browser is simply the application that you use to browse the Internet. Examples include Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc. When it comes to Blackboard, there are certain browsers that are supported, and ones that aren’t. What does this mean? It means that some browsers have been determined to be functional with Blackboard, and some have not.

If you are having a problem in Blackboard and you contact me and/or HelpDesk, one of the first questions you will probably be asked is, “What browser are you using?”

It is always recommended that you (and your students) do a “browser check” to make sure that your browser is supported and configured properly for Blackboard (click here for a tutorial).  Here is a run-down on browsers that are certified (fully tested and supported) or compatible (key applications areas tested). If your browser is not on this list, then it has not been tested and/or is not supported.

Windows XP (32-bit)
Internet Explorer 8 (Compatible), Firefox 3.5 (compatible)

Windows Vista (32-bit)
Internet Explorer 8 (Certified), Internet Explorer 7 (Compatible), Firefox 3.6 (Compatible), Firefox 3.5 (Compatible)

Windows Vista (64-bit)
Internet Explorer 8 (Certified), Internet Explorer 7 (Compatible), Firefox 3.6 (Certified), Firefox 3.5 (Compatible)

Windows 7 (32-bit)
Internet Explorer 8 (Certified), Firefox 3.6 (Certified), Firefox 3.5 (Compatible)

Windows 7 (64-bit)
Internet Explorer 8 (Certified), Firefox 3.6 (Certified), Firefox 3.5 (Compatible)

Mac OSX 10.5 “Leopard”
Safari 4 (Certified), Safari 3.x (Compatible), Firefox 3.6 (Compatible), Firefox 3.5 (Compatible)

Mac OSX 10.6 “Snow Leopard)
Safari 4 (Certified), Firefox 3.6 (Certified), Firefox 3.5 (Certified)

Chrome and Safari 5 users, notice that your browsers are not listed as certified or compatible. This does not mean that nothing in Blackboard will work for you, but some things might not. If you run into a problem, you will need to switch to a certified or compatible browser to see if that clears up the issue. If it doesn’t, don’t hesitate to contact me and/or HelpDesk.

Final Details:

  • Browser downloads can be found by visiting: Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari.
  • PC users, click here to learn how to determine what operating system you are using, and whether it is 32-bit or 64-bit.
  • Mac users, to determine your operating system, click the apple in the upper left corner of your screen and select “About This Mac.”

Troubleshooting SafeAssign

If you use SafeAssign in your course, I highly recommend placing the following troubleshooting information in Blackboard.

In order to use SafeAssign, your browser should be set to accept cookies. If you do not know how to do this, please click on the following link for instructions:

You may receive the following error message when attempting to submit an assignment:

“Sorry, we do not think you are logged in to SafeAssign. Your session may have timed out. If you have received this message in error, please contact your system administrator. “

If you receive this error message, you will need to delete your cookies and browser cache. Please visit the following link for instructions:

Films on Demand

Are you utilizing Films on Demand? In my opinion, this is one of our library’s greatest resources. Probably one of the top 5 questions I get is, “Can I show this DVD in my online class?” If you have a copyrighted DVD, it is very unlikely that we will be able to show it in an online course. However, you do have access to Films on Demand, which contains tons of educational videos in a variety of academic areas.

I was recently working with Dr. Kinworthy on his microeconomics course. He had traditionally taught this course face-to-face, and had several videos that he liked to show. In putting this course online, we needed to find alternatives to the DVDs,  so we explored Films on Demand. To Dr. Kinworthy’s great surprise, he found more videos than he could use, and actually felt that they were better and more up-to-date than his DVDs. 

Face-to-face instructors can play the videos in full screen mode and then project them. Online instructors, you will need to make sure the videos are accessible to off campus students. This means that you will need to include a proxy at the beginning of the link. See this tutorial for instructions.

If you have a DVD that is absolutely essential to your online course, and you cannot find a Films on Demand alternative, speak with Phil Hendrickson about the possibility of purchasing a downloadable version.

SafeAssign Tutorial for Students

I recently had a request from an instructor to provide instructions for students on how to use SafeAssign. Here is a brief tutorial that you can put on Blackboard that will show your students how to upload SafeAssignments and interpret a SafeAssign report.


If you are not familiar with SafeAssign, it is a tool in Blackboard that you can use to scan student papers for potential plagiarism. The real benefit of SafeAssign is that it can be used to educate students, rather than as a “gotcha.” I encourage instructors to provide students with the opportunity to submit a first draft of their papers (using the “draft” option in SafeAssign). This way, a student can review the SafeAssign report and make sure they are quoting and citing appropriately before submitting their final draft. The instructor tutorial for SafeAssign is available in the right column of this blog, under “YouTube Tutorials.”

Blank Grade Book?

We have had reports lately about the Blackboard grade book coming up blank. In other words, some instructors have clicked on the grade book link and absolutely nothing was there. If this happens to you, try clearing your browser cache. Please click here for an explanation of how to do so. Note that you will need to scroll down in order to find instructions for your particular browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.).