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Teaching with Blackboard

About Blackboard

Blackboard™ is a course management system used campus-wide at NIU. The system allows faculty to post materials, deliver tests and surveys, hold online discussion and many other course-related functions. All currently-enrolled students and teaching faculty have access to the Blackboard system. We are running Blackboard version 9.1 Service Pack 14, having upgraded the system May 25, 2014. Login to the NIU Blackboard site at: http://webcourses.niu.edu

Email From Blackboard Being Marked as Spam

Posted: 1/29/15

Recently, there have been reports that email sent from within Blackboard is being marked as spam by several third party email providers (e.g., Gmail, Hotmail/Outlook, Yahoo). This can be a problem when students expect or rely on emailed Announcements, or use of the Send Email tool.

The Division of Information Technology has determined that the biggest impact occurs when the message is sent by a faculty member or instructor who has changed their email address from their official NIU address to an alternative email address. Of particular note is the use of Yahoo addresses, which are often not merely flagged as spam, but blocked altogether, meaning students may receive no email at all.

It is recommended that any faculty member or instructor who has changed their email address within Blackboard (and especially if it has been changed to a Yahoo email address), they change it back to their NIU email alias by emailing a request to helpdesk@niu.edu.

More Known Issues »

New launcher replaces Java for launching Blackboard Collaborate sessions on Windows

Posted: 01/15/2015

NEW Windows Launcher for 2015: A recent update to Blackboard Collaborate eliminates the need for a compatible version of Java to function. Starting this semester, all Blackboard Collaborate sessions will initiate using the new Blackboard Collaborate Launcher. This utility has been available and successful for over a year for Mac users, and is now available for Windows, as well. The Launcher provides a convenient and reliable way for you to launch your Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing sessions and recordings.

It is no longer necessary to install and maintain the system version of Java in order to access Blackboard Collaborate sessions or recordings. In addition, the Launcher will only need to be installed once per computer, the first time it is used to join a Blackboard Collaborate session.

Information about downloading and using the Launcher is available at facdev.niu.edu/winlauncher for Windows and facdev.niu.edu/maclauncher for Mac, or watch the video to the right for a demonstration of downloading the Launcher for Windows. In addition, the Blackboard Collaborate Technical Support is available 24x7x365 to assist with accessing Blackboard Collaborate sessions at 877-382-2293 or through their online support portal.


Tips for Increasing Student Retention with Blackboard

Posted: 9/24/2014

Tips for Improving Student Retention with Blackboard

There are many issues that impact student retention, such as financial needs, family issues, personal adjustment, curriculum design, teaching methods, and academic advising. Improving retention requires dedication and contribution from everyone at NIU. In this online workshop offered 9/19/14, we discussed some features in Blackboard that can impact student success and retention by creating a stronger community in the classroom and identifying potential problems early. Watch the archive to learn more about these tools.

To learn more about Teaching for Student Retention, read this article from our Spring 2014 Spectrum newsletter.

Known Issue: Test Exception Does Not Allow Student to Take Exam After Due Date

Posted: 10/2/14

The Test Exception feature allows faculty to establish separate availability dates for individual students or groups of students. This is useful for students who may be traveling or ill during a regular exam window. Setting the availability dates should allow only the student or students included in the exception to access the test after the availability window closes. However, if a Due Date is specified and the setting for "Do not allow students to start the Test if the due date has passed" is selected, students with availability windows after the Due Date will be prevented from starting the test.

To avoid this, simply uncheck the option for "Do not allow students to start the Test if the due date has passed" and use the global availability dates for the Test to restrict students from accessing the Test. Then, the availability exception will allow the student or students to access the Test as normal and begin the Test. These submissions will be marked as Late by Blackboard, but that warning can be ignored by the faculty.

This has been submitted to Blackboard as a bug, but there is no timeline for a fix.

More Known Issues »

New Tool Available for Posting Audio and Streaming Video

Posted: 6/19/2014

Screenshot highlighting the Helix Media Library option under Mashups in the Text Box Editor

The Helix Media Library is available as a mashup in the Text-Box Editor, which is used for most of the areas that text is typed into Blackboard, including (but not limited to) when adding an item, submitting an Assignment, posting to a Discussion Forum, or providing feedback in the Grade Center.A new tool is now available in Blackboard that makes it easier for both faculty and students to add their own audio and video files to Blackboard. The Helix Media Library allows both faculty and students to upload audio and video files to a server that is optimized for streaming media and embed them within Blackboard.

Files uploaded will not be included in the Course Quota. Faculty, staff, and students will have 4 Gigabytes (GBs) of storage space, and individual files can be up to 2 GB in size. If necessary, free 4 GB quota increases can be requested from ITS by completing the Computing Access Resources (CAR) form.

To learn more about the Helix Media Library, please visit www.niu.edu/blackboard/build/content/helix.shtml.

More Blackboard news »