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LITS Library and Information Technology Services

Common Blackboard Problems and Their Solutions

A number of issues in Blackboard have workarounds described below. You may also wish to check the section on browser-related issues if you don't see your problem here.

The "Record from Webcam" tool is not working.

The "Record from Webcam" tool (in the Content Editor) uses YouTube to record and store short videos shot from the camera in your laptop or other device. Because we are a Google Apps for Education school (and our Gmail accounts are not the same as personal accounts), you need to explicitly sign up for additional services such as YouTube in your Hamilton Gmail account. You can do this very easily by opting in to additional HillConnect services.

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I can't see the horizontal scroll bar in the Grade Center anymore.

This problem occurs in recent Mac OS systems with recent browser upgrades. The scroll bar is supposed to appear when needed, but seems to not always appear.

  1. Launch System Preferences, either from the Dock or from the Apple menu.
  2. Once the System Preferences window opens, select the General preference pane.
  3. The middle section of the General preference pane controls when scroll bars appear and a few additional scroll bar options.
  4. To return the scroll bars to their pre-Lion functionality, select "Always" from the Show Scroll Bars options. The scroll bars will now always be visible, even when you're not scrolling.

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My student submitted a file and I can't open it.

It's possible that your student prepared the file on a Macintosh computer without the Office file extensions turned on (which produced a file name such as "essay" instead of "essay.doc"). You should be able to open the file if you change the file name to include the .doc file type extension (you may need to use .docx if the .doc doesn't work).  It is also possible that your student is using Pages on the Mac; you can ask your student to save the file in a Word document format and re-submit it.

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I can't see the last student in my Grade Center.

You can't seen the last student in your class, and if you re-order the Grade Center in reverse alphabetical order, you can't see the first student (who should now be at the bottom). 

Fix no. 1:  This problem may be happening if the text size is too large. Go to the View menu of your browser, find the Zoom or Text Size option, and make the text smaller. You may need to reload the Grade Center for this change to go into effect.

Fix no. 2:  The problem could also be related to the scroll bar setting in Windows. This can be fixed by changing the Windows XP scroll bar size back to 20 or smaller.

Here is how to change the scroll bar setting in Windows XP:

  1. Open the Windows Control Panel, Display Properties
  2. Click the Appearance tab
  3. Click the Advanced button
  4. Select "Scrollbar" from the Item: drop-down list and change the size to < 20 (the default is 17)

For Windows 7:

  1.  Go to Control Panel
  2.  Select (Appearance and) Personalization
  3.  In top right-hand search box, type "windows color"
  4.  It will bring up Personalization and a list.  Select "Change window colors and metrics".
  5.  Click on the Item Dropdown (default says Desktop) and select "Scrollbar" and change to a value less than 20.

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My student is having trouble submitting (uploading) an assignment.

You student attempts to submit an assignment and receives an error message with a long error id number and a message telling you to contact the System Administrator. This is probably caused by the name of the file containing some character other than letters, numbers, underscores or hyphens. Ask the student to rename the file with a shorter name with no special characters (no commas, extra periods, pound signs (#) or other non-letter, non-numeric characters). If this does not work, then empty the browser cache (Internet Explorer: Tools, Delete Browsing History, delete temporary internet files; or Firefox: Tools, Clear Private Data, make sure Cache is checked) and submit the file again.

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I'm having trouble submitting a paper via SafeAssign's Direct Submit tab.

You are attempting to submit a paper to be checked and receive an error message stating that you are not logged on. This seems to affect Macintosh users and the solution here is to "enable third-party cookies." How to do this depends on your system and which browser you use:

If you are using Firefox, then it's Preferences, click the Privacy tab, check Accept Cookies from Sites and keep until they expire.
If you are using Safari, then it's Preferences, click the Security tab, and check Accept Cookies -- Always.
And if you are using a Windows computer, it doesn't hurt to check the cookies as well:
Firefox: Tools -- Options, Privacy tab, check Accept third-party cookies, keep until they epire.
Internet Explorer: Tools -- Internet Options, Privacy tab, set the slider bar to Medium High.

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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 having some problem with his/her e-mail account. The students can contact the Help Desk (859-4181) for assistance with their Hamilton email accounts.

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