Archive for the ‘Course Management System’ Category

End of Semester Hide and Seek

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

As we approach Thanksgiving, I’m sure many of you are thankful that the end of the semester is near. This is the time when instructors are ironing out Grade Center issues and preparing for the new semester.

  • Hiding Old Courses: Many of you have inquired about hiding old courses and announcements from your Blackboard page. There’s an easy way to do this. Please see our Bb FAQ page for the instructions.
  • Grade Weighting: If you find that your grades are not weighting properly, please check the Weighting Grades by Category document.
  • Preparing for the New Semester: For those of you who are working on your spring 2012 courses, please refer to the Course Readiness Checklist to ensure that your course is ready for the first day of the semester.


I’ve had a few inquiries about ExamView tests that result in a “fatal error” message when importing into Blackboard, even when using the most recent version of ExamView and saving for the correct version of Blackboard. If this happens, please export for older versions of Blackboard (6x/7) and try to import that file. If this fails, please contact your publishing representative.

Have a great Thanksgiving and feel free to contact me with any questions.

Liz Stover

Mini-Session Switchover

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

As the first mini session ends and the second begins, some people are reporting these issues:

  • Grade Center weighting is not calculating properly.
    This is often due to either duplicate categories existing, the weighted column being incorrectly set up, or items not assigned to the proper category. Please review the Weight Grades by Category document for information on resolving these issues.
  • Assignments are not copying to the new course section.
    This is usually due to an unchecked box during the course copy. Make sure to include “Grade Center Columns and Settings” or graded items will not copy and the Grade Center will not include any graded items.

Remember, when you copy an existing section into another, although the old students will not copy to the new course, the discussion posts will carry over and will appear as posted by “anonymous”. Simply select all and delete these.

Please see the Course Readiness Checklist to help ensure that your online course is ready for the first day of class.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Liz Stover

Updates and Reminders

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

I have updated the list of known issues and suggested solutions for Blackboard:
View current list of known issues (pdf).

The September DL training schedule has been posted.
View DL Professional Development page.

What’s New in Blackboard?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

As you have been notified, Blackboard will be down on August 1 for an upgrade. Some miscellaneous issues have been resolved and a few important new features have been added.

View a list of new features in Blackboard (available after August 1).

Don’t forget to review your courses before they launch to ensure that they are ready for the new semester.  The Department of Distance Learning provides an interactive checklist to help you review your courses:

Course Readiness Checklist (pdf)

If you would like to receive DL news updates (generally just one or two each month), visit the there are two options:

Enjoy the remainder of your summer. We’ll see you in the fall!

Blackboard Training, Any Place, Any Time

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Do you have difficulty attending live Blackboard training due to schedule conflicts? If so, the Department of Distance Learning has a solution.

We are now offering our basic Blackboard training courses as self-paced courses, which you can choose instead of the face-to-face workshop. If you choose this option (select through the registration form), you will be enrolled in a course with an empty shell, and be provided with instructions on how to complete some basic activities. The instructional materials are available to everyone, but you must register and complete the course online to receive credit for this training, if choosing the self-paced option.

View Blackboard 9.1 self-paced faculty tutorials.

Of course, we will continue to offer these workshops live, for those of you who prefer this method.

The Weighting Game: Some clarification on grade weighting

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Happy June from the Department of Distance Learning. As the first mini session is progressing, there have been some questions about weighting grades in Blackboard. Since most of you weight by category, there is a three step process:

  1. Set up categories (and remove duplicates).
    Manage > Categories
  2. Set up category weights in your weighted grade column.
    Weighted Column > Edit Column Information
  3. Assign a category to all items that will be graded.
    Manage > Column Organization

In addition to the steps above, here are a few items that frequently cause problems:

  • Items must be “included in Grade Center calculations” in the item settings.
  • An item must include “possible points” to affect the calculation.
  • When selecting “Yes” for Calculate as Running total, make sure to assign a Zero for items not attempted or students will not be penalized for not attempting the assignment (excused absence).

The following short video might be helpful in setting up Grade Weighting (start at 1:35 if you weight by category, rather than by individual items). Weighting Grades in Blackboard 9.1 (4:53)

June Bugs

Please see the following document for a list of known issues in Blackboard and solutions or work arounds:

View a List of Known Blackboard Problems with Solutions (pdf)

Summer Courses: First week check-up

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

As the first week of classes is quickly approaching, I wanted to send a few reminders:

About the Technology

About the Pedagogy

  • The DL Course Development page offers resources to help you develop quality online courses.
  • Contact Liz Stover if you would like assistance developing your online courses or locating resources to help deliver rich, interactive content.

New Items and Fun Stuff

  • Create a Banner for Your Blackboard Course
    Learn how to easily create a banner for your course using a free web-based image editor, Pixlr.
  • Since CFCC now uses Gmail through the new portal, this also provides you with access to Google docs and YouTube (where you can post lectures and instructional multimedia), in addition to a number of other useful tools for your courses.  Access these through and click the Email link, which takes you the CFCC gmail, documents, etc.

Are You Having Issues with Your Blackboard Course?

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

As we slowly approach the summer and fall semesters, please make note of some important resources available for building your online and Internet courses:

Have a great summer!

Spring Cleaning: Reminders and Updates

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Don’t let your students be the ones to notice problems in your online courses.  As you are making copies and revisions for summer and fall, here are some reminders and new items to consider:

  • Since CFCC is moving to the new portal ( , remove references in your course to Campus Cruiser, including in the contingency plan.
  • Do NOT use update Internet Explorer to version 9 yet, since Blackboard does not support it; doing so could result in display and functionality issues. Use Firefox or IE 8 instead.
  • Review the “Preparing your summer and fall courses” post to help ensure that your courses are ready for the first day of class.
  • If copying and pasting from a Word document, use the Paste from Word tool to remove excessive code that results display problems in some browsers.
  • There are some lingering minor issues in Bb. For a list of these issues and work arounds or solutions, view the Blackboard Issues and Solutions document (pdf).

In addition to the items mentioned above, don’t forget about professional development opportunities from the Department of Distance Learning.  In addition to Blackboard training, we offer workshops on course quality and eLearning applications.

If you would like to schedule a meeting with the DL instructional technologist to assist with course development, please contact Liz Stover at or x7722.

You might also check out training from the LRC, where you can learn about exciting tools for your traditional and online courses.

Preparing your summer and fall courses.

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Many of you are now building your summer and fall courses.  First, you must determine how will build or copy course content.  
Learn about your options for adding content to your course shell.

The following documents will help you determine if your courses are ready for the first day of class. Items include content, design, and support items. The first document, the Course Readiness Checklist, provides you with an interactive form to help you document the status of your course(s). The other documents support the Course Readiness Checklist.

  • Use the Course Readiness Checklist (pdf) to help ensure that your course is ready to launch.
  • Check the Grade Center to ensure that all activities were copied and are correct; that the correct grading schema is being used; and that items are correctly categorized. Refer to Grade Center Check document (pdf).
  • If you are revising your course, consult the CFCC course essentials checklist (doc).This document identifies 25 standards that should be addressed in online courses. You can use the rubric (doc) with these standards if you want to take notes as you review your course.

If you would like to sign up for distance learning training, please refer to our training schedule.

If you would like instructional design assistance for your hybrid or Internet course, please contact the DL Instructional Technologist, Liz Stover at

Connecting with Students: Office Hours and Beyond

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Even when teaching online (hybrid or Internet), it is sometimes beneficial to provide ways for students to connect with each other and/or with the instructor synchronously (in real-time). Some possible uses for synchronous communciation include:

  • Office hours
  • Guest speakers
  • Tutoring
  • Oral examinations
  • Student collaboration
  • Virtual field trips

There are many tools available to provide real-time interaction. Some are built into the Blackboard course management system. Others are available for low or no cost (Skype, WizIQ, etc.).  

While the following article was written about ways to use Skype in online courses, these activities can be used with other tools (Skype cannot currently be used on the CFCC campus). Read 10 Ways to Use Skype in Online Classes.

There are several tools currently built into Blackboard at CFCC that can be used for synchronous activities. Learn about these and more options from Conducting Office Hours Online (pdf).

As always, if you need assistance with integrating these or other tools in your online courses, feel free to contact me (Liz Stover) at or x7722.


New “Paste from Word” tool for Bb makes your life easier!

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Pasting content from a Word document can result in problems, including display errors, formatting gone awry, and strange characters appearing on the page. This is a result of excessive code use by Microsoft that other programs cannot interpret correctly


We have installed a new mashup tool in Blackboard to help resolve this issue without requiring re-typing items into the text editor or using another tool to strip the code. Better yet, it’s simple to use! Click the link below to learn more.

Learn how to use the Paste from Word tool.  🙂

Also, please note that the YouTube mashup tool has been fixed!

Blackboard Friday: Problems/Solutions, continued

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Here’s a list of the current issues noted from our most recent Blackboard update:

  • Menu items in unavailable courses might show “hidden” when they are not
  • YouTube mashups not working This was resolved on 2/10!
  • Clicking locked test attempt takes instructor to another student’s test
  • Calendars and Due Dates in Calendar module display incorrectly

Some Blackboard Issues Resolved

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Some of the Grade Center problems have been resolved, including the issues related to submitting test attempt, clearing test attempt, and the duplicate assignment download and clear links.

The remaining Grade Center issue is related to navigating to a locked test attempt. The link below will explain the problem and provide a work-around. However, at this time, new YouTube mashups are not working (existing ones are fine) and there is a menu problem for unavailable courses.

The following document will provide more information and workarounds:

Blackboard SP4 Issues (pdf)

NOTE About CALENDARS: There are some issues with the Calendar display and due dates displayed in the My Calendar module. More information will be posted at a later date. The Calendar display can be resolved by using Firefox or IE 8 browser (but not in compatibility mode).

Update: What’s Right? What’s Wrong?

Monday, January 24th, 2011

CFCC recently updated Blackboard and a few issues were resolved included:

  • Course banners are now available.
  • Students can again embed images in discussion, wiki, and blog posts and the instructor can view them.

There are a few problems with the Grade Center, including issues with navigating to locked tests, submitting test attempts for the students, and clearing attempts. The link below describes the problems and work arounds or solutions:

Grade Center Problems and Solutions (pdf)