Blackboard Procedures


Training

Blackboard training is not required but is highly recommended. We offer scheduled hands-on training workshops as well as one-on-one appointments. Our goal is to help faculty be comfortable with Blackboard and to introduce them to our policies and procedures.

If you have a Teaching Assistant (TA) or Graduate Assistant (GA) who will be assisting you with Blackboard, we encourage you to bring him/her to the training sessions.


Getting Help

FAU's Online Computing Support Center allows you to search the Knowledge Base for answers to common questions. You can also submit your own help ticket by clicking on "Submit a ticket."

For questions regarding the availability and location of specific course content (documents, exams, etc.), how to submit assignments/papers and other course work (such as discussion board posts and chat sessions) and resetting quiz/exam attempts (for students who have gotten "locked out"), students should contact their instructor and NOT the helpdesk.

Please note that if a student contacts the helpdesk with a technical issue the person assisting them may need to briefly enroll themselves in the course in order to trouble-shoot the problem.


Course Activation

OIT has given all instructors access to their respective course sites in Blackboard.  You need only log in and make your courses available for students to be able to access them (until you do that students will not see or be able to access the course).

Please click here for instructions on how to make your courses available.

If you'd like to request a combined section course space, log into Blackboard (http://blackboard.fau.edu), click on the "Faculty" tab and you will see a channel called "Blackboard Combined Course Center."  Click on the "continue" button, then click on "Create Combined Course."  Select the appropriate semester from the drop-down list.  You will see a list of the courses that you are assigned to teach.  Check the boxes next to the sections you wish to combine and click "Next." (NOTE:  If you do not see the sections that you're teaching, select "Other" and you will be taken to a page where you can manually enter the 5-digit CRNs of the sections you wish to combine).

Organization Requests


Course Space Quotas

All Blackboard courses are subject to a 700MB disk space quota.  You will receive a warning when your course size exceeds the quota.  Please submit a helpdesk ticket if you need to request additional space. 


Faculty Access

Your Blackboard username is your FAUNet ID. Your password is the same one that you use to access MyFAU.  Faculty will also be given a unique "guest" account to be used at their discretion (this is useful for logging into your course to view tests, grades and assignments as a student).


Student Access

Students appearing on the official roster for your class are enrolled automatically in the Blackboard course web site approximately 2 weeks before classes begin .  This list is updated on a daily basis throughout the semester. 

The student username for Blackboard is their FAUNet ID.  If the student does not know their FAUNet ID they should go to http://myfau.fau.edu and click on "Lookup Username."  The student password for Blackboard is the same one that they use to access MyFAU.  The student email address in Blackboard is set as their FAU email address (to forward email to another account students should go to MyFAU and select "auto forward" under "options").


Course Content

OIT will not upload course content to Blackboard for faculty. The purpose of the Blackboard hands-on training workshops is to teach faculty to do this themselves.


Quizzes

FAU has purchased a site license for Respondus, a powerful tool for creating and managing exams that can be printed to paper or published directly to Blackboard.  Whether you are a veteran of online testing or relatively new to it, Respondus will save you hours on each project. If you wish to request a copy of this software, please submit a ticket through the online helpdesk at http://helpdesk.fau.edu.

The first test your students take online should NOT be their midterm or final exam. Your students should have taken at least one other online quiz or exam using Blackboard so they are familiar with the system (even if its just an un-graded practice quiz).  Make sure you know how to create, deploy and manage exams in Blackboard well ahead of time if you plan on using Blackboard for your exams.


Grade Center

The Blackboard Grade Center is intended as a communication tool between teacher and student and as an unofficial grade organization tool. It serves both of these purposes well.

It is dangerous to rely on the Blackboard Grade Center as your primary, official location for recording and storing grades. There are two main reasons for this caution:

  • History. There is no provision for tracking changes in the Blackboard Grade Center. Thus, if a grade is entered or changed, there is no record of when this change was made, who made it, or what the previous entry was. Note that such changes are possible through human error, as well as intentional deceit and can be made by any instructor or TA in the class (or by anyone else who has managed to log in as that person).
  • Reliability. System failure may result in loss of data. While such a situation is rare and may never occur, it is also disastrous: If the Grade Center data cannot be reconstructed, the instructor may have no other source from which to retrieve this information.

Both of these dangers can be ameliorated by the expedient of regularly exporting grades to a file on your personal workstation. These exported files are in a small comma-delimited format and can be read into most standard spreadsheets for viewing. Using a self-organizing naming system for these regular exports, such as one that includes a course name and date, provides you with the information to reconstruct the Grade Center should that ever be necessary.


 

Course Backups

It is strongly recommended that you make frequent back-ups of your Blackboard course both during the semester and at the end of the semester. Instructors are solely responsible for their own course backups.  The online Grade Center tool in Blackboard must be backed up separately from the rest of the course by exporting it as a comma-delimited or tab-delimited file, which can be opened in Excel as a spreadsheet.  For course archive (backup) instructions visit the online knowledge base section of the Computing Support Center

Blackboard courses remain on the server for two semesters.   The only exception to this would be when we are upgrading to a new version and/or server, in which case faculty would be notified if previous semester course contents were to become unavailable.  At the end of each semester all of the previous semester's courses are backed up individually (in case there is ever a need to restore the content that is in them) and then removed from the Blackboard server. 

Please note that some areas/items within your course such as discussion board threads, quiz responses , documents submitted to the assignment manager will NOT be included in a course backup file.  If you are using the assignment manager you should save all documents submitted by students somewhere outside of your Blackboard course by the end of the semester.  It is strongly suggested that you do this in case of a grade challenge after the semester has ended.  OIT does NOT keep copies of these files, nor are we able to retrieve them after the semester has ended.

To backup the individual discussion board threads that have been posted by your students, you should open the discussion forum in your course and then click on the "show options" tab on the right side of the screen.  Next, click the "select all" button then click the "collect" button.  This will display all of the discussion threads for that forum on one page.  Select all of the text and then click "copy".  Open up a word processing program such as Microsoft Word and then "paste" the text into a new file and save it somewhere on your computer.

Individual student quiz responses should be opened up via the Grade Center and then printed out and/or copied and pasted into a word processing program in order to keep a backup outside of Blackboard.