June 14th, 2013 by Nargas Oskui
This is very important grading information related to Blackboard grades. We at CMET Consulting (Blackboard IT support) have noticed that many instructors may be giving out inflated grades because of a misunderstanding of one of the settings in the grade center. If you are using Blackboard’s Grade Center to calculate your final grades, please carefully review the following information.
The double-dash in the grade center cells in your Full Grade Center “ – - “ represents a null or a grade exemption as the default setting, and does not represent a zero,. We’ve noticed that instructors are not entering zeroes for assignments that are not turned in and are leaving the dashes there instead. Unless you have changed the “Running Total” for your total column from the default of “Yes”, to “No”, you need to enter actual zeroes in all of those cells that should have zeroes or your students’ grades will be significantly inflated. If you do not, it will ignore that cell with the dashes in it and calculate their grade based only on what the student has turned in. For example, we have seen students who stop showing up or turning in assignments halfway through the class get A’s despite the fact that they should be failing the course because of this simple error and the fact that it’s only calculating the things the student turned in during the beginning of the course.
If you have been grading throughout the term and leaving dashes instead of zeroes, you need to either go through and add actual zeroes in the place of the dashes, or change your total and/or weighted total column (whichever you are using for final grades or both) to Running Total (below section #3) set to No by editing the column information. This will count every double dash – - in the grade center as a zero. Keep in mind the reason why the default Running Total is set to “Yes” is to literally display a running total of the student’s submissions. If it were set to “No” then all of the students would start out with an “F”. If you do it that way and set Running Total to No, any grades you still have left to enter (like a final exam score for example) will count as a zero until you enter the grade for that because the dashes for the final exam will now be zeroes for all students. So your total column will reflect a lower grade for your students if you still have grades left to enter and your Running Total is set to No. Despite that, we recommend setting your Running Total to No at the end of the term to ensure you aren’t missing any dashes/zeroes. If you’d like to avoid panicked emails from students about their drastically low grade (which appears lower because you still have grades to enter), you can hide the final grade column from them until you’ve finished entering all the grades for the course and then show it afterwards. To hide/show the total/weighted grade columns, you also would go to edit column information.
All of these settings can be found by clicking the little gray edit arrow next to the total column and selecting “Edit Column Information” from the drop down. The “Show/Hide to Users” setting is at the very bottom. Be sure to press Submit to save any changes. You’ll know that it is hidden from users because it will have a little red slash icon in the column header for anything hidden. To unhide it, you go to the same area, and switch it back.
Here are two thorough FAQ tutorials to refer to describing calculating grades:
Please feel free to contact us with any questions. For more complicated grade center issues we ask that you come in person to our office in room 19 of the Knight Library.
May 29th, 2013 by Nargas Oskui
The University of Oregon is investigating enterprise wide learning management systems (LMS) to support teaching and learning. The UO has been a Blackboard campus since 1999. Since that time, the number of platforms, both licensed and open source, has expanded. Our community is also more experienced in using technology to support instruction, and faculty have new requirements and expectations. The process to determine our requirements, test various products, and select an LMS for the future will take place over the next several months. Our current Blackboard license expires in March, 2015.
Public presentations scheduled
A request for information (RFI) has gone out to vendors, inviting them to demonstrate their products at public presentations on campus. Please mark your calendars now to attend these sessions. UO Faculty, students and staff are encouraged to attend and provide feedback to the selection committee.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
Knight Library, Room 101
Blackboard (http://www.blackboard.com/) (advanced version)
Friday, May 31, 2013, 9:30-11:00 a.m.
Knight Library, Room 101
Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
Knight Library, Room 101
Friday, June 7, 9:30-11:00 a.m.
Knight Library, Room 101
Canvas (by Instructure, www.instructure.com)
Wednesday, June 12, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
Knight Library, Room 101
Videos of the product demonstrations will be posted for those unable to attend in person. Note that videos are for UO community members only; UO DuckID is required.
Following the presentations, please share your comments may be submitted to the LMS Review feedback form.
May 28th, 2013 by Nargas Oskui
Many of you remember that Blackboard last term (Winter 2013) experienced a massive outage during Monday of finals week which frustrated many. Due to the fact that there has been as many as 65,000 logins on one day we want to avoid a load issue recurring. We understood the cause of the crash and have implemented some work-arounds. But we still want to be cautious, and are asking faculty and staff to NOT prep classes or upload video or other large files to Blackboard during dead week and finals, in order to preserve the integrity of Blackboard for students to access files.
If you do need to prep for summer courses, upload videos or other non-related finals activities, we ask that you do so during non-peak periods after grades have been submitted, toward the end of 0-week.
You can still use course copy to move files between courses. Please read this FAQ if you haven’t used the Course Copy feature recently: http://library.uoregon.edu/scis/blackboard/faq/instructors/i7.html
If you need to create a course export file to move content to another institution or need to import an export file you can send a request for assistance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have files that are larger than 500MB you can contact CMET consulting for assistance in finding a way to make your files available to students. They can assist you with compressing video formats or making your movies available on a streaming server.
May 24th, 2013 by Tim Boshart
We have put together a short survey for instructors to take in order to determine Blackboard usage for exams. When you enter each course you will see a “Take Survey” button at the top right corner. If you are planning on using Blackboard for your finals please take the time to click the button and answer the 4 questions. Your feedback will be valuable for us to anticipate upcoming online exams!
May 3rd, 2013 by Tim Boshart
On Saturday May 11, 2013 the SafeAssign system will be down for midnight from 12am-3am US PDT. During this time students will not be able to submit papers. The rest of the Blackboard system will be available during this time.
The advisory bulletin from Blackboard follows:
Bulletin/Advisory Information: The SafeAssign service will be unavailable on Saturday May 11, 2013 from 3:00 AM to 6:00 AM US Eastern (GMT-4). SafeAssign is being taken offline to improve disk space and hardware.
During this outage end-users will not be able to submit papers through SafeAssign during the planned downtime and will receive an error message if they attempt to do so. SafeAssign Originality Reports will not be available to instructors or students during the planned downtime, nor will Instructors be able to access SafeAssign DirectSubmit. Please make end-users aware of these limitations. Use of SafeAssign can continue as normal after the planned downtime is complete.
May 2nd, 2013 by Nargas Oskui
A recent Blackboard bug adds an “s” to links. Instead of going to http://…, https://… is used for web address when saved. The workaround for a student is to copy and paste the URL into the browser and remove the s from http(s):// then press enter and the page will load.
For professors in the meantime please recreate the content by going to “Build Content”, then use the “Web Link” content builder. This option still allows for the web links to function properly.
Our Administrator has gotten this problem escalated with the Blackboard developers and a fix will be available by the end of May!
We will contact professors who have submitted tickets to email@example.com once the issue has been fixed. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.
April 10th, 2013 by Tim Boshart
On Friday April 12 starting at 7:00pm Pacific Daylight Saving Time Information Services will be upgrading the Duck ID website (duckid.uoregon.edu). During this time the “Forgot Your Password?” link on the login page will not work and you will not be able to change your password. The upgrade will be completed sometime on Sunday April 14.
You will still be able to log into Blackboard and other UO services during this time.
For more information please see: https://it.uoregon.edu/duckid-upgrade
March 29th, 2013 by Tim Boshart
Until we get a permanent fix to the large file upload problems we have set a file upload limit of 500MB to Blackboard. We have also turned off the ability to export and import course archive files.
You can still use course copy to move files between courses. If you need to create a course export file to move content to another institution or need to import an export file from another institution you can send a request for assistance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have files that are larger than 500MB you can contact CMET Consulting for assistance in finding a way to make your file available to students. They can assist you with compressing video files or making your files available on a streaming server.
March 26th, 2013 by Administrator
Dear faculty the brief issue with the bouncing back/failed message (not the email delivery itself) that was problematic and has been fixed since Monday. As long as you have received a copy of the email in your inbox from the email you sent to your class then your class has received the email as well. The only exceptions to this, of course, would be the few students who might have full email inboxes or not check their email. Otherwise, they have received the messages that faculty have sent. To be certain your students have equal access to messages that are sent, we recommend using the “Announcements” feature in Blackboard, which will both email your students and post an announcement to the Blackboard page that they will see when they log into Blackboard. The caveat with the Announcement feature is that your course must be already set to “Available” prior to sending an announcement or the email portion won’t go through. In any case, the issue has been resolved!
And you shouldn’t be receiving inaccurate bounce back messages in the future. We do apologize for any confusion or inconvenience this has caused.
March 19th, 2013 by Administrator
Blackboard has been stable since Tuesday, 3/19/2013, 1 am.
- Students affected by lack of availability of Blackboard resources should contact their instructors to discuss accommodations if needed.
- GTFs affected should work with their lead faculty.
- Faculty should take into account the impact this inconvenience might have had on their students. I encourage faculty to work with their department heads or deans to work out fair, equitable, and quick accommodations.
- Multiple sections of the same course should be handled in a consistent manner.
- Deans and department heads are encouraged to call me if they want to discuss options and approaches. My phone number in Academic Affairs is 6-2172 and my e-mail is email@example.com. I’m happy to consult as we work through any necessary adjustments.
- No change has been made to the due date for grades in schools and colleges just ending winter quarter – it remains 12 noon next Monday, March 25th.