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UAB Instructional Technology - F.A.Q.

Computer Setup

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What is a BlazerID?

All UAB faculty, staff, and students must have a BlazerID to access Blackboard Learn. When you log in to Blackboard Learn, you will be asked for a User name and Password, and you should always enter your BlazerID and password in these fields. Remember that your BlazerID and password are case sensitive.

You can check your BlazerID in the UAB Electronic Phonebook. If you do not have a BlazerID, you may create one by visiting the BlazerID Central Website. You should be able to access Blackboard Learn 24 hours after registering your BlazerID.

Note: Do not share your password with anyone. If you believe someone has stolen your password, please contact the AskIT Help Desk.

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What version of Java should I have on my computer?

Blackboard Learn requires a program called Java in order to run on your computer. The recommended version of Java to have installed is Java 1.6.33. It is possible to have multiple versions of Java installed on your computer, but it can cause problems. To learn how to properly setup Java for your computer, please choose the computer setup guide for your version of Windows located here.

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How can I learn how to use Blackboard Learn?

To learn how to use the Blackboard Learn system you can either view the tutorial files located on the student tutorials and guides page located here or you can login to the Blackboard Learn system at www.uab.edu/academiccourses and go through the Blackboard Learn 101 course located in your course list.

In addition to these resources there is also a "Help" ling located in the upper right hand corner of the MyCourses page that will allow you to search for help using specific tools within the Blackboard Learn system.

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How do I add attachments?

The process of adding attachments is consistent throughout Blackboard Learn. Here are the steps in adding attachments to assignments.

  1. In the Submission section, click on the "Add Attachments" button.
  2. A window will pop up that lets you see all of the files you have uploaded.
  3. To upload a new file, click the "Upload File" button.
  4. Once you have clicked the "Upload File" button, another window will pop up.
  5. Click the "Browse" button in order to locate the file you want to locate on your computer.
  6. Another window will pop up that will allow you to navigate to the file on your computer.
  7. Once you have located and selected the file that you want to attach to your assignment, click on the "Open" button.
  8. The navigation window will close and bring you back to the Upload File window.
  9. Your file name should now appear in the file box.
  10. Click the "Save" button.
  11. After you click the "Save" button, you will be brought back to the Assignment window with your attachment located just above the "Add Attachment" button.
  12. You can add multiple attachments by repeating these steps for each attachment.

Note: Most assignments can only be submitted once, so adding all of your attachments at one time is recommended.You can remove an attachment by clicking on the remove icon at the end of each attachment.

These steps will be the same for adding attachments to mail, discussions or any of the other features within Blackboard Learn that supports adding attachments.

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I can not attach files to my assignments, what do I do?

Most problems with adding attachments is related to either File Name, Java or Popup Blocker programs. Below you will find the solutions for each of these common issues.

File Naming:
For best results in Blackboard Learn, file names should only use numbers, letters, underscores ( _ ), dashes ( - ), periods ( . ). Files uploaded into the Learn file manager should not include any special characters or spaces in the file name. Files uploaded into Blackboard Learn with names that include special characters (such as ^?*<>/\:|&,) or spaces will not behave correctly.

Java:
Blackboard Learn requires a program called Java in order to run on your computer. The recommended version of Java to have installed is Java 1.6.33. It is possible to have multiple versions of Java installed on your computer, but it can cause problems. To learn how to properly setup Java for your computer, please choose the computer setup guide for your version of Windows located here.

Popup Blockers:
Blackboard Learn uses pop up windows in order to display different information. It is recommended that Popup Blocker programs are disable while using Blackboard Learn. To learn how to disable your Popup Blocker programs, please choose the computer setup guide for your computer located here. If after trying these options, you are still have difficulty attaching files, please contact the AskIT Help Desk at 996-5555 or via email at askit@uab.edu.

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I can log in to Blackboard Learn, but my course(s) is not showing up on my course list.

After logging in to Blackboard Learn, you should land on a page called MyCourses. This page normally displays a list of all the Blackboard Learn courses you are enrolled in. If that list has no courses, or is missing a certain course, the problem usually exists outside of Blackboard Learn. There may be a problem with your enrollment in the course. Talk to your supervisor or the person who asked you to complete this training course and verify that the right procedures have been followed for enrolling you in the course.

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After I enter my ID and password, I am taken to a search page instead of the MyCourses page.

It is possible that your computer has been infected by spyware, or malware, which can re-route your Web browser to a page you did not intend to visit. You can protect your computer from this kind of software using anti-spyware products such as Spybot and Ad-Aware.For more information about installing these protective programs and getting your Web browser back to normal, contact the AskIT Help Desk at 996-5555 or via email at askit@uab.edu for further assistance.

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When I type in my ID and password, I get a message that says "You entered an incorrect username or password," but I know I put in the right ID and password.

Your Blackboard ID and Password (which are the same as your BlazerID and Password) are case-sensitive. That means that capital letters and lowercase letters are treated differently. For example, "Blue" is read as a completely different word than "BLUE." Be careful to type your password with the same capital and lowercase letters you used when you created it. Also, be sure to check your keyboard and make sure the indicator light for Caps Lock is turned off. When Caps Lock is turned on, all the letters you type will be capitalized automatically.

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Will Blackboard Learn work if I have firewall software or pop-up blockers on my computer?

Yes, in most cases Blackboard will work if you have a software firewall (such as ZoneAlarm) installed on your computer. However, not all firewalls are the same, and you may need to adjust certain settings on the firewall software to allow access to your Blackboard course. Some firewall software includes pop-up blocking as a feature, or you may have have separate pop-up blocking software on your machine. Blackboard uses pop-up windows extensively, so you must disable pop-up blockers altogether or at least allow pop-up windows on the Blackboard site.

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When I click on the Chat and Whiteboard icon nothing happens, what should I do?

This known issue for the Chat and Whiteboard is caused by java cache files being accessed incorrectly. The solution to this issue is to clear out the java cache and try again.  To do so follow these steps for Windows:

  1. Close all browser windows.  This means ALL of them, not just the ones displaying Blackboard. 
  2. Go to Start, then choose the Control Panel.
  3. Click on the icon named Java. On the General Tab, under the section labeled Temporary Internet Files click the button Delete Files.
  4. Then choose to delete all the types offered.
  5. Close the control panel by clicking OK and start the web browser and try again.

If you continue to have a problem with the Chat and Whiteboard feature, please contact the AskIT Help Desk at 996-5555 or via email at askit@uab.edu.

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Why does my HTML editor freeze when I am working in Blackboard Learn?

The HTML editor is a Java-based applet that loads into the page when the option is selected. Below are the most common reasons that it may freeze during use.

Applet has not finished loading:
The applet may take a while to load depending on you computer and you internet connection speed. You should see the Java symbol spinning while the applet loads on your computer. Please be patience and let the applet finish loading before you try to perform other functions.

Multi-tasking:
Working on several tasks while trying to load the HTML editor may cause it to freeze. It is recommended that you are only running Blackboard Learn while working in your courses.

Multiple versions / wrong version of Java:
The recommended version of Java to have installed is Java 1.6.33. It is possible to have multiple versions of Java installed on your computer, but it can cause problems. To learn how to properly setup Java for your computer, please choose the computer setup guide for your version of Windows located here.

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Why did my session has timed out while I was typing a Discussion Post/Assignment/Assessment answer?

Areas that are for inputting type in Blackboard Learn use a Java Applet to allow you to type in text. When you are typing in theses fields you activity is not recognized as activity by the application. Blackboard Learn is set to time out after 15 minutes of inactivity, so if you are typing a length message or answer in one of these fields, you may time out.

We recommend that if you are composing a lengthy response that you type it in a separate program, such as Microsoft Word, and either copy and paste the text or use the attachment feature to attach the other document. In the case of Assessments, we recommend that you periodically click out side of the text field and perform an activity such as scrolling up and down the page so that some activity is registered. Please be very caution in the activity that you perform while in Assessments, so that you do not accidentally close or submit your assessment.

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What is Blackboard Learn?

Blackboard Learn is a Web-based learning management system that provides a standard environment and interface for the development and delivery of Web-enhanced and completely online courses at UAB. For several years, UAB has used another product called WebCT Vista as the primary platform for Web-based courses. Blackboard Learn is a more powerful and flexible software application than Blackboard Campus Edition. Many of its features and functions work in a similar manner to those in Campus Edition, but some are different and will require adjustments on the part of instructors and designers. The resources on this Website will help you make those adjustments and learn how to accomplish your objectives in Blackboard Learn.To begin learning more about Blackboard Learn at UAB, click Getting Started.

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What kind of hardware or software do I need to use Blackboard Learn?

Since Blackboard Learn is browser-based system, most of the technical requirements are related to your Web browser. You must use a Web browser that is validated for use with Blackboard Learn, and that browser must be configured correctly. Click the link below to find out whether your browser meets these specifications: Blackboard Learn Browser Check. Some course sections have other software requirements beyond those detailed above, please choose the computer setup guide for your version of Windows located here, to learn more about plugin requirements.

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How do I request a course section in Blackboard Learn?

Course Sections are now automatically created, so there is no longer a need to request a course shell! Your course section is available for development either through BlazerNet or by going to www.uab.edu/academiccourses fifteen (15) weeks prior to the first day of class as set in Banner.

By default each section is currently available with: the official instructor of record, as assigned in Banner, the Academic Institute template content, the open date set to the first day of class as set in Banner and the close date set to five (5) days after the last day set in Banner

If you would like something in your current fall course section modified (additional instructors/designers/TA’s, cross listing, loading of previous content, date changes) please complete the Course Update Request Form at www.uab.edu/courseupdaterequests.

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What does the term "course section" mean and how does it apply to me as an instructor or designer?

Blackboard Learn makes an important distinction between courses and sections. A course can be thought of as an environment where content has been developed and organized to meet a particular set of learning objectives. A section contains the same content, but the section is the environment that students are granted access to so they can interact with the content and the instructor. The section is the environment where teaching and learning take place. In the UAB Academic Institute, instructors and designers will be given access at the section level.

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What is the difference between instructor and designer access and which type do I need?

In Blackboard Learn, building a course is a process distinct from teaching a course, and each of the tasks belongs to a separate role. The role that does the building is called the designer role. For example, designers add assessments, assignments, and content. The role that does the teaching is called the instructor role.The same person can be enrolled in both roles, allowing him/her to perform both building and teaching tasks. To do this, the user would need to be enrolled as both a section designer and a section instructor. Designers have access to Build functions, which include the following:

Instructors have access to Teach functions, which include the following:

Both instructors and designers also have access to a Student View, which provides the ability to experience the section as a student by taking a quiz, or submitting an assignment, for example.In the UAB Academic Institute, instructors and designers will be given access at the section level, so you will either be a section instructor, a section designer, or both. When you are ready to teach or build in Blackboard Learn, you will go through the course request process, which will give you an opportunity to specify who will fill these roles in the particular course section you are requesting.

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Who can I contact for help with Blackboard Learn?

The Help content within Blackboard Learn is easy to use and informative, so it is always a good idea to try looking up issues there first. This content can be accessed by clicking the Help link in the upper-right corner of most pages within Blackboard Learn.

If you cannot find an answer within the Blackboard Learn Help, please contact the AskIT Help Desk at 205-996-5555 or via email at askit@uab.edu.

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What should I tell students about getting help with Blackboard Learn?

The Help content within Blackboard Learn is easy to use and informative, so it is a good idea to make students aware of that resource as a starting point for help. It can be accessed by clicking the Help link in the upper-right corner of most pages within Blackboard Learn.

Student questions that cannot be answered in Learn Help should be directed to the AskIT Help Desk at 205-996-5555 or via email at askit@uab.edu.

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Does UAB Instructional Technology offer classes or workshops to help me learn how to work with Blackboard Learn?

Yes, in addition to the resources on this website and our departmental website, UAB Instructional Technology offers a number of face-to-face workshops and classes that address teaching and designing courses in Blackboard Learn. Click the link below for more information: Instructional Technology Training and Education.

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How do I put a Power Point presentation into my Blackboard Learn course section?

There are several different ways to include Power Point presentations in your course section. The key decision you will need to make as an instructor or designer is which file format you want to the presentation to be saved in. Below are descriptions of the different file formats you can use for a Power Point presentation and their strengths and weaknesses.

Standard Presentation (.ppt)
The .ppt format is the default format when you save a file in Power Point. When a .ppt file is placed on a Web page, the way it is interpreted depends on the user's Web browser. Internet Explorer versions 5 and later have a Power Point viewer that allows .ppt files to be viewed regardless of whether the user has the full version of Power Point on his/her machine. Older IE browsers and many other browsers do not have this feature, but a Power Point viewer can be downloaded free from Microsoft by following the link below:

Free Download for Microsoft Power Point Viewer

An important thing to remember about .ppt files is that if a user has Power Point installed on his/her computer, he/she will have the ability to view the file in the mode.

Users should be able to see the files with no problem if they have Microsoft Power Point installed. It can be purchased at the UAB Bookstore as part of the Microsoft Office software package for a student-discounted price of about $10. That’s obviously a very good deal.

You can also convert .ppt presentations to .html but I would recommend staying with .ppt or going to .pps (the slide show format that doesn't allow the files to be viewed in editing mode) unless the files were going to be really really big. From what I can tell the .ppt files you have in this course are not particularly large, though some students may need to wait a few seconds for them to display/download if they are on dialup.

Power Point Native File Formats
One very easy method for putting Power Point presentations into Blackboard is to use one of Power Point’s native file formats: .ppt or .pps.

The .ppt file is the file that you typically use when you are working on your Power Point presentation, so by allowing students to access that file, you are basically giving the students access to the source of your presentation. This does not mean that the students can alter your presentation as it exists in Blackboard, but it does mean they can save a copy of it elsewhere and make changes to that copy. This may or may not be a concern for you, but it is something to be aware of.

The .pps file is the Power Point show - the slide show version of the presentation. When a student accesses this file format, he/she will only see the slide show itself and will have no ability to edit the presentation.

The important thing to keep in mind when using these native formats is that students must have Microsoft Power Point or the Microsoft Power Point viewer installed in order to view the files. Fortunately, UAB students can purchase the Microsoft Office 2007 suite, which includes Microsoft Power Point, from the Barnes and Noble @ UAB Bookstore for $8.49. That is a very good deal. The Microsoft Power Point viewer can be downloaded free by following the link below:

Saving the presentation as HTML

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. Most pages on the World Wide Web are written in HTML and saved as .html documents.

Using the Power Point Save as Web Page function, you can save a Power Point presentation as a series of .html documents. The advantage of putting your presentation in this format is that it will be viewable on a standard Web browser without requiring your students to have any special software. This option usually results in a smaller file size than you will get with .ppt or .pps format, which could make a big difference for students accessing the Internet through slower dialup connections.

PDF (Portable Document Format)

Another option is to convert your Power Point presentation to PDF format. PDF stands for Portable Document Format, and if you have spent much time on the Web, chances are you have viewed a number of PDF files.

To view a PDF file, a user must have a piece of software called Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on his/her computer. The good news is that PDF has become such a popular format that almost all computers at this point have Reader installed and it is a free download for those that do not.

Creating PDF files requires another Adobe program called Adobe Acrobat. While this software is not free, UAB has a volume discount from Adobe that allows faculty and staff to purchase Adobe Acrobat for about $80 at CDW-G. That is significantly lower than the normal retail price of $299.

There are also some free options for converting presentations to PDF format, including CutePDF, which worked well in our trials. If you use a Macintosh, the OS X operating system has PDF creation built in to the printing system.

If you are concerned about people being able to save a copy of your presentation and modify it for other uses, you may want to use Adobe Acrobat. It has a range of security features you can use, including locking the document for editing and/or printing.

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