Blackboard Faculty Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Getting Started

Course Development

During the Course

Student Issues with Blackboard

How do I begin using Blackboard?

Attend a TLC Blackboard Workshop or review Blackboard's On-Demand Tutorials:

You can also view videos made specifically for COD! Find these videos on the Employee Portal under the Training tab (far right side).

How do Instructors log in?

Go to Use your assigned myACCESS login and password to log into Blackboard.  If you need help with your password, call the Help Desk and they will be able to assist you.

To reach the Help Desk, call 942-HELP (942-4357) or e-mail:

Can I view Blackboard from my home?

Yes, Blackboard is accessible from any computer with Internet access, whether you are on campus, at home or at cyber café!

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Who do I contact when I need help with Blackboard?

Faculty should contact the Help Desk, 630-942-HELP. Students should contact the Student Help Desk, 630-942-2999.

Faculty may also find answers at Ask an Expert sessions (check the TLC Calendar for dates and times).

Is there a Blackboard Manual for instructors?

In your course, you will find a link to Blackboard Instructor Help on the Blackboard Inc. site. Go to the Control Panel. In the Help section, click Blackboard Help for Instructors. A new window will open. Type a keyword or question in the Search box.

You might also want to visit Blackboard's On Demand Learning Center.

Is Blackboard accessible?

Yes, Blackboard is committed to ensuring that the platform is usable and accessible. The code and user interface design techniques are continually audited to ensure that the application is usable by everyone, to the greatest extent possible, regardless of age, ability, or situation.For more information, see: Accessibility Improvements.

What should I know about Blackboard and accessibility?

The Blackboard Learning Management System is accessible to users with disabilities when used with the appropriate assistive technology. Blackboard’s statement on Accessibility can be reviewed on their website.

The instructor also has responsibilities in ensuring that their course materials can be accessed by users with disabilities. If you would like guidance in building courses that are accessible or learning more about technology and accessibility, you may request enrollment in Blackboard's free self-paced course Universal Design and Accessibility for Online Learning available through CourseSites. Click on the course name and request enrollment.

Though some of the material is dated, other considerations for developing course materials can be found at the University of North Carolina’s website: Tips for Using Blackboard with JAWS

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I would like to use Blackboard to store course files. How do I start?

It's a great idea to store course files such as syllabi, PowerPoint presentations and course handouts in Blackboard.  The big advantage is that students enrolled in your course can access the files from any internet connected computer.  Follow the instructions in this video, Adding Files to Course Files, to upload files to Blackboard. Then watch Attach Files from Course Files to see how the files can be made available to students.

Watch Attaching a Syllabus to learn how to add your syllabus as an attachment in your Blackboard course.

If you have HTML files in a folder and want to keep the file structure intact, please view this video, Add File to Deploy HTML Package


Are there any file naming rules that I should be aware of?

File names can NOT contain any special characters including (but not limited to): # $ & % ! { } [ ] ( ) /

Acceptable file names include upper and lower case letters, numbers, hyphens and underscores only (A-Z, a-z, 0-9, -, _ ).  Due to current Blackboard functionality, the file name must be under 72 characters long. File names that are over that length will be accepted by Blackboard, but errors will be encountered when the instructor attempts to download them for grading. For best results, please do not use spaces in your file names.

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What type of files can I upload to Blackboard?

Almost any type of file can be uploaded to Blackboard including Word, PowerPoint, html, PDF, plain text, rtf, audio and video files. If large audio or video files (longer than 3 minutes) are being used, please contact Multimedia Services who will assist in placing the files on the streaming media server.

Also, consider using the Mashup tool: Creating a Mashup.

Can I include my existing documents (like a Word file) into my course?

Yes, you can upload these files into content areas that you might create such as Course Information, Assignments or Course Documents. See Tour the Course Files Feature.

Watch Attaching a Syllabus to learn how to post your syllabus as an attachment in your Blackboard course.

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How do I edit the course menu?

Students use the Course Menu to navigate to course content, tools, and external links. You must add the content areas and tools that are needed for the course.

To customize the Course Menu:

  1. Turn Edit Mode - On
  2. Click the Add icon (+) above the Course Menu.
  3. Select the item from the list.
  4. Type the Name of the content item in the Name field.
  5. Click Submit.

For more details, review this information:

Is there a spellcheck feature in Blackboard for me to use?

Blackboard includes spell check in the Content Editor.

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What is a Course Cartridge? How do I use it?

Course Cartridges are academic resources provided by publishers to work with specific textbooks or study guides. They contain a variety of materials that can include slides, documents, multimedia files, links to related websites, Powerpoint presentations, test banks, and quizzes. Course Cartridges require a download key to unlock the Content and add it to a Course. Download Keys are obtained from the publisher of the cartridge. Instructors may use all or some of the cartridge content. The materials can be customized once they've been loaded into a specific course.

Cartridges are designated as either "Copy Protected" or "Open Access."

To install a course cartridge:

  1. Go to the Control Panel and open the Packages and Utilities section.
  2. Click Import Course Cartridge.
  3. Enter the download key in the textbox. Click Submit.
  4. A message will be displayed which says that the import has been started. You will receive an e-mail message when the import has been completed. Depending on how busy the system is, the import can take from 10 minutes to several hours.

In addition to course cartridges, many publishers offer course packages that can be downloaded from the publisher's website in the form of a course package. These course packages can then be imported into the course.

To install a course package:

  1. Go to the Control Panel and open the Packages and Utilities section.
  2. Click Import Package / View Logs.
  3. Click Browse to locate the package file. Then use the checkboxes to select the material that you want to import.
  4. Click Submit.
  5. A message will be displayed which says that the import has been started. You will receive an e-mail message when the import has been completed. Depending on how busy the system is, the import can take from 10 minutes to several hours.

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Do I need to Export my course?

Yes, it is highly recommended that you regularly create a backup of your entire course using the "Export Course" function. The Export function creates a zip file that you should save to your hard drive for safe-keeping. Don't try to edit the zip file.

By making regular back-ups after editing your course, you will always have a current copy of your course. If needed, you can then use the "Import Package" option to bring the course content back into Blackboard.

Should I archive my course?

The Archive Course option creates a zip file that can be used as a back-up file. It contains all the content and user interactions including course work submissions, discussion messages and scores in the Grade Center. When an archived course is restored, a complete course as of the time the archive was made will be created. The Restore operation can only be done by a Blackboard administrator. Please contact the Helpdesk for assistance if you need to restore an archived course.

How to Archive a Course (Beaufort County Community College)

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What issues should I keep in mind when copying or exporting Discussion Boards?

An advanced feature in Blackboard is the ability to establish either a Graded Discussion Forum or a Graded Discussion Thread. This allows instructors to review student responses within the forum and to also assign a grade. The grade is then automatically transferred to a corresponding column within the Grade Center.

Copying or Exporting/Importing Course Materials Containing Graded Discussion Forums/Threads

When course materials containing discussion materials are copied (or exported/imported) to another course, the Forums and any threads in the forum threads are copied to the new course. The author information for the threads is not copied over, so Blackboard assigns "Anonymous" as the author to each thread. In most cases, the instructor plans to remove the threads in the new course anyway, so this designation of "Anonymous" is not a problem. However, some discussion boards are setup with an initial "starter" thread to direct the discussion. The instructor may wish to retain this starter thread for the new course but prefers that the author be displayed as their own posting and not from "Anonymous."

Removing "Anonymous" as the Author

If the starter thread is needed, and the author is "Anonymous," the instructor can easily change the author. Make sure to view the forum in "List view" (option right below the Edit Mode). Mouse over the chevron next to the thread title and choose Change Author. The thread will immediately change to the instructor's name.

Remove Old Messages

Be sure to remove any old posts that are not needed. Don't leave them for your students to click through. Even though the student's names have been changed to "Anonymous," the posts themselves may contain names or other personal information.

After copying or importing a course, Delete Old Discussion Posts:

  1. Enter Blackboard and open the course.
  2. Edit Mode - On.
  3. Go to Discussion Board.
  4. Open a forum with posts.
  5. Click the top left checkbox to select all threads.
  6. Optional: Uncheck any posts you want to keep.
  7. Click Delete.
  8. Click OK to confirm deletion.

On the next screen, a confirmation message appears in the green bar at the top of the page.

Return to the main page of the Discussion Board. Repeat for every discussion forum.

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What issues should I keep in mind when course copying or exporting Wikis, Blogs, and/or Journals?


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What about copyright policies and the Teach Act fair use issues when using Blackboard?

Please review the link below for an overview of the Teach Act.

What assessment options are available to me with Blackboard?

There are assessment features that allows creation of ...


      • Regular assignments
      • SafeAssign
      • Self & Peer Assessment
      • Assignments through 3rd part publisher sites


      • Anonymous and non-graded (great for a weekly check-up, polling, or evaluation)


      • True/False Questions
      • Multiple Choice Questions
      • Fill in the Blank Questions
      • Multiple Answer Questions
      • Matching Questions
      • Ordering Questions
      • Essay Questions
      • Calculated Formula Questions
      • Calculated Numeric Response Questions
      • File Response Questions
      • Hot Spot Questions
      • Fill in Multiple Blanks Questions
      • Jumbled Sentence Questions
      • Opinion Scale/Likert Questions
      • Short Answer Questions
      • Either/Or Questions
      • Quiz Bowl Questions

See Tests, Pools, and Surveys

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How can I make my exams more secure?

We've searched the web to find "real world" tips on making your exams more secure. Consider incorporating some of these ideas in your course.

Eliminating computer problems will also help with exam security.  Try these suggestions:

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How can I collect homework in Blackboard?

You can use the assignment tool to send and receive documents. You can also use blogs, journals, wikis, and the discussion board to collect homework assignments.

Is there something I can use to help me detect plagiarism in written assignments? (SafeAssign)

SafeAssign compares submitted assignments against a set of academic papers to identify areas of overlap between the submitted assignment and existing works. Safe Assign is used to prevent plagiarism and to create opportunities to help students identify how to properly attribute sources rather than paraphrase. SafeAssign is effective as both a deterrent and an educational tool.

To learn more about SafeAssign, go to:

Using SafeAssign (video)

SafeAssign Instructor Guide

SafeAssign Student Guide

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Some course tools like SafeAssign or Tests are missing from the Action Bar in the Content areas (or the Control Panel). How can I get these tools back?

Occasionally, with a course copy or import, some of the content tools get turned off.   Follow the instructions below to restore them to the tool menu.

  1. On the Control Panel, click Customization.
  2. Click Tool Availability.
  3. Tools can be made available by selecting the check box in the appropriate column and made unavailable by clearing the check box. Check the boxes next to the desired tools.
  4. Click the Submit button and look for the tool.
This process is also shown in this video: Turning Tool Availability On and Off.

I think my course is finished. Is there a checklist I can review?

Download the Blackboard Course Checklist and review your course. Depending on your course delivery and course objectives, you may not want to include every Blackboard tool, or implement the tools exactly as stated in the list. However, the checklist is a good way to quickly evaluate your course readiness.

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How are students enrolled in my Blackboard course?

All students are automatically enrolled from our student system.

How do I make my course available so that students can access the course material?

By default, course materials are not available to the enrolled students until the instructor makes the course available. To make a course available,

See Course Availability or Making Your Course Available

What should I do if a student cannot see his/her class?

Make sure that you have made the class available.

If the student cannot login at all, or is unable to locate the course in his/her account, have the student contact the Student Help Desk at (630) 942-2999 or e-mail

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Why aren't all of my students in the Blackboard roster?

On rare occasion, students are not listed in the Blackboard roster, but are listed in the myACCESS roster.


1) Did the student enroll today? myACCESS is updated immediately. But Blackboard is updated overnight. The student should appear in Blackbord the next day.

2) If a student does not have a email account, the student will not appear in Blackboard. This happens if a) the student has never entered myACCESS (tell the student to login to myACCESS) or b) if the student is younger than 17 when enrolled. Most student who enroll at COD are older than 17 and therefore automatically assigned an email account. However, if students are younger than 17, they must request an email account. If students are younger than 13, a parent must give consent before they can be assigned a school email.

Even is a student is older than 17, the email account creation may have slipped by because the student originally started at COD in a Talent Search or Kids on Campus course (perhaps years ago).

The student may contact the Student Help Desk. Once an email has been assigned, the student will be listed in the Blackboard roster the next day.  


Where can I see a student's activity in my course?

The Retention Center provides an easy way for instructors to discover which students in their courses are at risk. Instructors can communicate with struggling students and help them take immediate action for improvement.

Instructors can also see the date of last access in the Grade Center and can also view student activity using Course Statistics. Instructors can also use the Performance Dashboard (video or page). Instructors can not only see the date of last access, but also view information about the student’s Discussion posts and Review status.

You can run several types of Course Reports to view information about course usage and activity. You can view summaries of course usage including which course areas are used most frequently and course access patterns for specific students. Watch how to run one of the reports, Overall Summary of User Activity Report.


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How can I take Attendance?

Here are some ideas:

  1. An Excel file has been developed which you can use to track student attendance.  Download the Excel file and store it on an external drive (i.e. thumb drive, hard drive) or in your Blackboard course.  You can not directly update the attendance file in Blackboard; instead, open it within Bb, record the attendance, save the updated file, and replace the original file stored in Bb.

    Instructions on loading your roster into the file are given on the first worksheet.

  2. If you teach an online course, and simply need to see "Last Course Access" (the last date the student logged in to Blackboard), look for this information in Performance Dashboard (video or page)

  3. Another idea is to download student names to Excel and create your own attendance sheet. Watch this video, Rosters and Email, to get started.

  4. Use one column in the Grade Center to track absences following NIU's suggestions.

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How do I download the course Grade Center?

It is recommended that instructors download grades periodically during the course.  It's also a good idea to download the grade center at the end of the term so you can keep a permanent copy of the grades for your records. Some divisions require instructors to send a copy of the Grade Center.

See this video for step-by-step instructions: Download Grades

To download the Grade Center:

  1. Open a course in Blackboard and navigate to the Control Panel.
  2. In the Grade Center section, open the Full Grade Center.
  3. After the Grade Center opens, click Work Offline (far right) and select Download.
  4. The "Download Grades" screen will appear. In Section 1, under Select Data to Download, click the radio button, Full Grade Center. 
  5. In Section 2, be sure Tab is selected.
  6. Click the Submit button.
  7. On the next screen, click the Download button. A dialog box asks if you want to open or save the file. 
  8. Click Open.  Excel will open with the class roster and grades.

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How do I allow a guest to access my course?

Guest Access provides limited course access to students who are not enrolled in a course, or external visitors not affiliated with Blackboard. Certain areas of the course are never available to guests.  The areas that cannot be accessed include communication areas such as discussion board, journals, wikis, and blogs. The Grade Center, tests, surveys, and assignments are also unavailable to guests.

Areas that may be accessed include Announcements, Contacts, and Content areas. 

Keep in mind that you aren't actually adding a person to your course. You are allowing people who aren't enrolled in the course to view areas of the course.

To allow guests, Instructors must first enable a global course setting to allow guests, and then must go to Tool Availability to select the specific areas that guests are allowed to view. For example, an instructor may allow guest to view information in the content areas, but not announcements.

Keep in mind that once these settings are made, anyone in the world will be able to access the course. Anyone can click the Preview as Guest link on the login page to access Blackboard to use the generic guest account. The guest (or anyone with a COD Blackboard account) can use the Course Search tool on the My Institution tab to search for courses.

How to enable guest access for a course
By default, guest access is turned off for all Blackboard courses. To enable guest access:

  1. Go the course Control Panel.
  2. Under Customization, open Guest and Observer Access
  3. On the Guest and Observer Access screen, select Yes for Allow Guests.
  4. Click Submit

Next, the instructor must select what areas of the course that guests will be permitted to view.

  1. On the Customization screen, click Tool Availability.
  2. Use the check boxes to select available areas for Guests.
  3. Click Submit.

Finally, the instructor sets access to the individual areas that can be reached using the Course Menu.

  1. Turn Edit Mode ON
  2. On the course menu, click the chevron next to a content area name, such as Syllabus, to display the sub-menu.
  3. On the sub-menu, set access:
    • Click the link, Permit guests, to allow guest to view the item.
    • To disallow guest display of the item, click the link, Deny guests.
    • If neither of these options displays, this area is not available to guests (such as Discussion Board).

By the way, the course must be set to Available in order for students (and guests) to view course materials.

Blackboard On-Demand Video: Guest and Observer Access

How do I remove guest access from my course?

  1. Go the course Control Panel.
  2. Under Customization, open Guest and Observer Access
  3. On the Guest and Observer Access screen, select No for Allow Guests.
  4. Click Submit

How does a guest login to Blackboard?

Guest users access the system through the Preview as Guest link on the Login page.

  1. Go to
  2. Click the Preview as Guest link
  3. The My Institution screen will open. Locate the Course Search box and enter a term to search, for example: NursingNote: The Course Search text box performs the searches on the course name.
  4. Click Go.
  5. The Browse Course Catalog screen will open. The upper section provides additional search options, if needed. The lower section of the screen displays all courses that match the search criteria. Only courses that allow Guest Access and are Available will have a clickable link.  Click a link to go to a course.

The guest will see the parts of the course for which the instructor has given access.


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How do I remove the display of the class average from the student view of the Grade Center?

Providing the class average for each column in the Grade Center can be misleading to students especially in an online course when students complete work at different times.

To remove the class average from the display:

  1. Start by turning Edit Mode - On in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. On the left menu, find Control Panel. Open the Grade Center menu and select Full Grade Center.
  3. Click on the arrows to the right of the column name display the options in the submenu.
  4. Click Edit Column Information.
  5. In Section 3, choose "No" for Show Statistics.
  6. Click Submit to apply the change.

This process will remove the statistical information in My Grades.

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What should I do at the end of the course?

Which process (Export/Import or Course Copy) should I use for my course? Either process process works well.  Export should be used to save a copy of your course or share the course with another instructor. If you only want to copy materials in your account from one term to another, you may use the Copy Course function.

If you use SafeAssign, be sure to synchronize your SafeAssign assignments once the course has been copied.

Duplicate course menu items? You may find duplicate course menu items when you import or copy a course. Please review Dealing with Duplicate Course Menu Links.

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How does the student course look different from mine?

The student's view of the course is essentially same as yours when the Edit Mode is Off, except that you have access to the Control Panel on the bottom left (below the Course Menu). Students can view My Grades; instructors have no personal grades to view.

Is there a Blackboard manual for students?

There is a Blackboard Help for Students website. Also, refer students to On Demand Learning Center: For Students.

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How long will it take students to download files from my Blackboard website?

When developing your Blackboard course materials, please remember that viewers may be using a dial-up connection. In addition, Internet traffic and individual modem speeds may influence the download time of a file.

Keep files small enough so users with slower connections will still be able to access the files in a reasonable time. Or minimize the file size by using a file compression tool or a program such as WinZip [].

Blackboard will not allow files larger than 20MB to be uploaded.  If you attempt to upload a file larger than 20MB, an error message will be displayed and the file will not be uploaded.

If you must post a large file, be sure to inform the viewer of the content and size of the file and that the file may take time to download.

Sample Download Times

  100K File File 1MB File 5MB File 10MB
28.8 Modem 31 sec 5 min 26 min 52 min
56 Modem 13 sec 2 min 12 min 23 min
640 K - DSL/Cable 1 sec 12 sec 1 min 2 min
T1 1 sec 5 sec 26 sec 52 sec

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Why do some students have problems taking/submitting exams?

It is important for students using Blackboard, especially when taking tests, to use the correct browser with their PC or Mac operating system. This is also true in the classrooms here at COD where computers can be loaded with up to three different browsers. Students can determine the correct browser to use by visiting the Blackboard Software Recommendations web site at:

If the student does encounter problems using Blackboard, they can contact the Student Helpdesk at (630) 942-2999 for additional assistance.

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Some of my students are having trouble using the Collaboration tools in Blackboard [Virtual Classroom and Chat] Do they need any special software?

Yes, Blackboard Learn requires the latest version of Sun JRE 6. The JRE can be downloaded from

You may refer students to the Blackboard Software Recommendations page to learn about this and other browser plug-ins.

How to disable pop-up blockers?

Pop-up blockers are used to prevent annoying advertising that "pops up" on a computer screen when using the Internet. However, if pop-up blocking is enabled for Blackboard, you may be unable to view discussion postings, take exams, and/or download files.

Additionally, if you are using anti-virus, internet security, or personal firewall software to control or eliminate pop-up windows, those applications can interfere with Blackboard.

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