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Blackboard Browser-Related Issues

Some behaviors in Blackboard are browser-related and may be fixed by changing your settings. Please also check here for useful tips and tricks.

My students can't open/download a file (IE only).

When a user of Internet Explorer clicks on a link for a document in Internet Explorer, they see a pop-up blocker (or a yellow message bar). If they agree to enable the download, they're returned to the course home page, and so can't download the file unless they return to the content area page and try again. This results from a security setting in IE and can be changed on a per-user/per-system basis.

  1. Go to Tools->Internet Options->Security->Internet->Custom Level
  2. Scroll down to the Downloads section
  3. Select the Users option
  4. Set Downloads->Automatic prompting for file downloads -> Enable.
  5. Set Downloads->File Download -> Enable.
  6. Click OK.

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When I click on a link to open a document, I see a Windows Security dialog asking for user name and password.

This problem affects only Internet Explorer 8; therefore, one of the solutions is to use a different browser (Firefox or Chrome). Other solutions are:

  1. Click the Cancel option twice (there will be another dialog box that pops open when Word starts to open).
  2. Enter your user name and password twice (in each of the two security windows). This should stop the security dialog from opening for subsequent documents.

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I'm getting security messages asking if I want to display mixed (secure/insecure) content. What do I do?

This issue affects Blackboard as well as the Web mail server. First, click OK. Then, check the following settings on your browser (these instructions apply only to Internet Explorer):

  1. Click on "Tools" in the IE menu bar
  2. Choose "Internet Options"
  3. Click on "Security" tab
  4. Click on the "Internet" icon
  5. Click on "Custom Level" button
  6. Scroll down until you see "Display mixed content" (under Miscellaneous). Set this to "enable".
  7. Click on "OK" and again on "OK"
    CAUTION: Be sure that you don't unintentionally modify any other settings.

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I'm getting messages asking if I want to trust a certificate. How do I answer?

This type of message will appear differently for Macintosh and for Windows users, but the meaning is the same. You may click the "Trust", "Accept" or "Run" button; the applet referred to in the message is actually a third-party product used by Blackboard. Note: If you click the "Show Details/Certificate" button and then check the "Always trust these certificates" option, this message should never re-appear.

Additionally, if you try to use the Virtual Classroom or Chat collaboration tools and receieve a warning message asking whether you want to accept a certificate from the website "blackboard.hamilton.edu," you may also click the "Trust" button (or click the "Show certificate" button and check the "Always" option).

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I'm using Windows and Internet Explorer and I'm having trouble with Blackboard.

A number of Blackboard problems for users of Vista can be fixed by making Blackboard a trusted site in Internet Explorer:

  1. Click on "Tools" in the IE menu bar
  2. Choose "Internet Options"
  3. Click on "Security" tab
  4. Click on the "Trusted Sites" icon
  5. Click on "Sites" button
  6. Enter "http://blackboard.hamilton.edu" in the Add field.
  7. Click OK and the click OK again.
    CAUTION: Be sure that you don't unintentionally modify any other settings.

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I'm using AOL and I got kicked out of Blackboard!

Internet Service Providers such as AOL or MSN use a proprietary system to connect to the Internet. Blackboard does not work well with these systems; using AOL could result in problems with downloading files, taking exams, or other aspects of Blackboard. If AOL or MSN provides your Internet connection, then follow these steps:

  1. Log in to AOL, etc., as usual
  2. Locate the "keyword" button to the immediate top right and click on it.
  3. Type in "smile4u" in the search field, click on "GO"(submit). A yellow smiley face should appear.
  4. Minimize the proprietary browser
  5. Open stand-alone browser (IE, Netscape, Opera, Firefox, Safari, etc. -- one can usually download a free version of these browsers from the company's website, if the software is not already on your computer)
  6. Log in to Blackboard and go about work as usual
  7. If "smile4u" does not keep the connection up, return to AOL occasionally and click a link so the connection remains live.
  8. If possible, set preferences with ISP to allow long periods of inactivity on their browser (or go to a website that will do this for you, such as http://www.sector101.fsnet.co.uk/keepalive/

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I'm clicking a link to take a quiz or join a Collaboration session but nothing happens!

Blackboard needs to use cookies, popups and Java scripting. Check the following settings on your browser (these intructions assume Internet Explorer on Windows, but other browsers will be similar):

To enable cookies in IE:

  1. Click on "Tools" in the menu bar
  2. Choose "Internet Options"
  3. Click on "Privacy" tab
  4. Slide bar to medium or low
  5. Click on "Apply"

To clear the Java cache in Windows:

  1. Click Start and select the Control Panel.
  2. Choose the Java item.
  3. Click Settings in the Java Control Panel.
  4. Click the Delete Files button
  5. Make sure both items are checked and click OK to delete everything.
  6. Click OK and OK.

To enable Java scripting in IE:

  1. Click on "Tools" in the menu bar
  2. Choose "Internet Options"
  3. Click on "Security" tab
  4. Click on the "Internet" icon
  5. Click on "Custom Level" button
  6. Scroll down until you see "Scripting of Java Applets" (under Scripting). Set this to "enable".
  7. Click on "OK"
    CAUTION: Be sure that you don't unintentionally modify any other settings.

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I'm trying to join a Collaboration session (Virtual Classroom or Chat) but nothing happens.

First, please be aware that the Collaboration tools (Virtual Classroom and Chat) currently work only with the following configurations: Windows systems, Internet Explorer or Firefox; Macintosh systems, Safari or Firefox. You must remember to unblock popups (this can be done for only the Blackboard site if you wish to block popups for other sites). Second, check all of the settings in the topic above (clicking a link to take a quiz). Also, please check that some other tool (e.g., the Google toolbar) is not blocking popups.

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The text in Blackboard is really small. Can I make it bigger?

This is actually a browser setting, not a Blackboard problem. Depending on what platform (Windows, Macintosh) and browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox) you are using, look at the top menu bar -- the one that starts File-Edit-View. Under View, look for an option that says Text Size or Text Zoom. Under that option, you should be able to select a different text size for the browser window.

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I sent an e-mail to several students, but now I can't remember which ones (or what exactly I said). Is there a copy of this e-mail in the Sent folder/Out box?

E-mail sent from Blackboard is routed through the mail server, but does not result in a copy left in your Sent folder or Out box. You should automatically receive a copy of the e-mail you sent (note the comment below the Message area that states "A copy of this email will be sent to the sender."). If you also check the box for "Return Receipt," then this copy will also have the list of recipients (this option is available only from the Send Email tools in the Control Panel).

Note: if you receive an error message stating "unable to send mail" but you do receive your copy of the e-mail which you just sent through Blackboard, then it is probable that most of your students received the e-mail also, but one of the students in your course is over-quota or is having some other problem with his/her e-mail account. The students must keep track of their quota usage themselves.

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