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Self Help

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: How do I report a problem or ask a question?

    A: If you have questions or problems with Blackboard, or other Blackboard services, contact the support person in your school or department. Contact information can be found in the Help & Who to Contact page.

  • Q: I can only see the course Announcements page (or other page). What happened to my Course Menu?

    A: If you are missing your Course Menu, look down the left-hand side of the screen for an arrow. Click the ">" to expose the menu.

  • Q: I cannot login to Blackboard - I'm told that my authentication credentials are incorrect. What do I do?

    A: There are several reasons that this message will appear, two of the most frequent issues are forgetting to change an e-password after VUIT notification and a name and/or social security change.

    The first course of action should be to contact your local technical support provider. They can help trouble-shoot issues and make sure you get the appropriate solution to your problem.

    If you know you have the correct password, but you still receive this message, visit the VUIT website to see if you need to reset your password for security reasons. You can also contact the VUIT Help Desk at (34)3-9999.

    Members of the Vanderbilt community who have recently changed their last name or social security number will also receive this notice. When changing this information, you must change it with both the Registrar's Office AND HR (if you receive monies from Vanderbilt). Changing this information in one place and not the other will cause you to be denied access to Blackboard.

  • Q: Why is my course not visible to students? How do I make it "available"?

    A: Courses in Blackboard must be made "available" to students before they can access content, regardless of whether they are registered and enrolled in the online course. To make a course available:

    In the course's Control Panel area:
    1. Click "Customization"
    2. Click "Properties"
    3. Scroll to the 3rd option (Set Availability) and select "Yes"
    4. Click "Submit"

  • Q: How do I enroll my TA in my course?

    A: You will have to enroll the TA in the course and change the role from "student" to "Teaching Assistant." To add your TA to your course:

    In the course's Control Panel area:
    1. Click "Users and Groups"
    2. Click "Users"
    3. Click the blue "Enroll User" button towards the top of the page
    4. Click "Find Users to Enroll"
    5. Enter your TA's VUnet ID (or search for your TA by clicking "Browse")
    6. Change the Role to "Teaching Assistant"
    7. Leave Enrollment Availability as "Yes"
    8. Click "Submit"

  • Q: What happened to the Digital Dropbox? What do I use instead?

    A: The Digital Dropbox has had many issues since Vanderbilt adopted Blackboard. Blackboard's response to the issues was to create a new tool that does the same thing, but with additional features. Blackboard phased out the Digital Dropbox in Blackboard 9.0 and introduced its replacement tool (Assignments) in Blackboard 8.0. Notice was given that the Digital Dropbox would be removed in February, 2010. Access to the tool was extended through July 2010.

    The Assignment tool allows instructors to: 
    - Organize student work by "assignment"
    - Easily see which students have/have not turned in the assignment 
    - Download the assignments all at once and store on the instructor's local machine 
    - Keep assignments organized, not all stored in one place

      » Download "Using Blackboard without the Digital Dropbox" (PDF)

  • Q: I am an instructor, but my class does not show up in Blackboard. What's wrong?

    A: You must be listed as the instructor in YES. If you are not listed there, contact your Registrar to set you up as "Instructor of Record" for that course. Once this is done, your course will appear in Blackboard after PeopleSoft and Blackboard have a chance to update.

  • Q: The list of courses on my "main" tab in Blackboard is very long. How do I hide old/unused courses??

    A: Click the "gear" icon in the top-right-hand corner of the "Courses". Un-check the checkbox in the "Show Course" column next to the courses that you would like to hide from view on the "Main" tab. Click Submit. Your hidden courses will still be available from the "Courses" tab, and you can reactivate them on the "Main" tab by re-checking them in the edit procedure described above.

    New in 9.1: you can reorder your items by drag/drop. You can always keep your most current courses at the top of your list.

  • Q: How can I set up a special Blackboard course?

    A: Blackboard courses for testing purposes, ad-hoc groups, and other organizations can be set up by contacting the support person listed for your school or department on the Help and Who to Contact page.

  • Q: What happened to the SYLLABUS courses?

    A: As of Fall 2010, we no longer create SYLLABUS courses in Blackboard. The feature is now available in Online Grading via YES. A video detailing this process, along with a PDF containing quick instructions, can be found on the University Registrar Office's website (link).


New Processes for Old Tasks

  • Course Copy and import limit is set at 250 MB.

    A: Instructors attempting to import a course package larger than 250 MB will receive a "Package too large" error message. This is not an issue, but a change. Blackboard set a package limit of 250 MB to preserve system stability.

    Workaround / New Process
    If the package is larger than 250 MB, instructors need to send an email to to request the course import. Included in the email should be the original COURSE ID and the destination COURSE ID. To do this, Blackboard Support need to delete the destination course prior to import; all previous work will be lost.

    Instructors can use the "Calculate size" button to verify the size of their course package and use the "Manage Package Contents" to reduce the files copied.

  • Printing from Blackboard does not print all information.

    A: Users attempting to print from Blackboard are unable to print the entire content; only a portion of the content is printed. This happens when users select the browser’s default print settings ("as laid out on screen"). This is not an issue, but a notice.

    Workaround / New Process
    When printing, users should use the "only selected frame" option for IE or "The selected frame" option for Firefox.

  • Some users on new PCs are asked to reauthenticate when opening Office documents, but their credentials are not accepted.

    A: This issue is isolated to new campus computers on the active directory and occurs when using IE 8. In IE, "Protected Mode is ON" is displayed on the bottom right-hand corner, meaning that IE does not recognize Blackboard as a "trusted site."

    Workaround / Resolution
    Your local desktop support person should add the Vanderbilt domain to your Active Directory profile. For a more immediate solution, individual users can add Blackboard to the list of "trusted sites": in IE, go to Tools > Internet Options > Security > Trusted Sites > (click) Sites > Add "" and select "Require server verification". If you continue to receive this error, please contact your local technical support provider.

  • IE 8 is not displaying properly.

    A: .IE 8 users see a distorted view when accessing Blackboard.

    Workaround / Resolution
    As with Blackboard 8, Blackboard 9.1 required the use of "Compatibility Mode" in IE 8. For browser questions, please refer to the Browser Compatibility Matrix on the main Blackboard website. (Main page, at the bottom under "Check my browser.")

    Firefox 3.6 is the preferred browser.

  • Replies to email notifications are not being received.

    A: .Users reply to email notifications and those emails are not reaching the intended recipients.

    Email sent as a reply to an EMAIL NOTIFICATION will act as delivered, but will not go to the recipient. The email address is a "do not reply" email address and goes directly to a deleted items folder that cannot be retrieved.

    Workaround / New Process
    Instructors are cautioned when writing Announcements that will be sent with an email notification; these announcements should not be written as email and should include a "reply to" address. Another option is to send email from the course.

  • Visual Text Box Editor (VTBE) is slow to load.

    A: This generally happens in Firefox (but can happen in IE). The browser may give the appearance of "crashing" when a page with the visual text box editor needs to load.

    Workaround / New Process
    This is not an issue, but a notice. Instructors should wait for the page to load, or they can change their personal settings to remove the VTBE.

    My Places > Personal Information > Change Personal Settings > #1 Text Editor On or Off

  • The Grade Center does not show grid lines and can be confusing.

    A: The grid lines that used to appear in the Grade Center are missing.

    Workaround / New Process
    In the interim, when an instructor hovers over a row, there is a visual change: the row changes from white to gray. Student names are now locked on the left side.

    Blackboard Support will need to look at the CSS to see if this can be adjusted.

  • Multiple files are shown across the screen, not vertically on a separate line.

    A: When adding multiple files to an Item, the files are listed horizontally across the page instead of vertically. Instructors raised concern that this could be confusing to students.

    Workaround / Resolution
    This is by design and cannot be changed. The new layout keeps the page from being long and students from continually scrolling when trying to view the page contents.


Bb 9.1 SP 1 Known Issues

  • Course Copy causes an error.

    A: When attempting to copy a course, or an individual portion of a course, instructors receive an error message. This is a KNOWN ISSUE for our version of Blackboard.

    Instructors should use the course export / package import when moving content from a previous semester to this semester. Once moved, the content can be copied to other courses. (It is the initial copy that has been proven problematic.)

    It may take some time for the content to appear in the new course because Blackboard has to create a new file structure. (It could take an hour for larger classes.) Do NOT attempt to go through the import process again; doing so will result in multiple files to delete.

    This will be fixed in an upcoming service pack. We do not know when it will be released, so we cannot schedule a date for the implementation.

  • Collaboration tool "Lecture Hall" is problematic.

    A: When users launch the Lecture Hall, the user who logged in just prior cannot access the tool: it is "locked." Sometimes a Java security alert is shown; when the user selects to "NO, show all content," the tool is unlocked. This error occurs when a user is using a new version of the JRE (1.6.20 or 1.6.21).

    Rolling back to JRE 1.6.16 corrects the error. This is NOT a suggested workaround.

    Blackboard is investigating the issue with us.

  • Course Banners not appearing when Announcements is set as the course Entry Page.

    A: The course banner will NOT appear if (and only if) the Announcements page is selected as the course entry page.

    Select another page (such as the Home Page) for the course entry page.

    This is a known issue and resolved in Bb 9.1 SP2. (We are running Bb 9.1 SP1.) SP2 was released for "general availability" on 08/24, but it is too early to discuss a roll-out plan for this. It is more likely that we will skip a separate install of SP2 and roll-it out with SP3. Once we have a date, we can begin planning the roll-out.

  • PDFs are not displaying correctly.

    A: When viewing PDFs, they explode out of the content area and cover the entire frame. The only way back to course content is by using the browser’s "Back" button.

    It does not happen when PDFs are uploaded using the "add File" tool. This does, however, happen when using the "add Item" tool and attaching files to that item. This is how files were uploaded in Bb8, so it appeared to be an upgrade issue, but it is not.

    Workaround / Resolution
    This is a known issue; Blackboard is investigating whether it was by design, or a development flaw. Until we hear further, users should use the "Back" button on their browsers to return to the course.

  • Files attached in discussion boards not displaying.

    A: In the discussion board, faculty cannot see some files that students are posting and students cannot see some files that instructors are posting.

    Faculty = If the VTBE is used to upload a file in a post, the file is visible by a student. If the faculty uses the content attachments area, the file cannot be opened by a student.
    Student = If the VTBE is used by the student to upload a file, the file is NOT visible by the faculty member. If the student uses the content attachments area, then the faculty can view.

    If you are a faculty member, use the VTBE in a discussion board post. If you are a student, use the Content Attachments area and not the VTBE.

    This is a known issue and slated to be fixed in Bb 9.1 SP3. (We are on Bb 9.1 SP1.) No release date for SP3 has been provided. It is more likely that we will skip a separate install of SP2 and roll-it out with SP3. Once we have a date, we can begin planning the roll-out.


Bb 9.1 SP 1 Known Issues (Tier 1+)

  • Tier 1+ lost the ability to sort course enrollments by role.

    A: From the Sys Admin panel, Tier 1+ users can no longer sort course enrollments by role.

    Use "send email to all instructor users" or "send email to all teaching assistant users" for identifying these in large classes (and not sending them mail).

    This feature has been removed. An enhancement request to bring this functionality back has been filed with Blackboard.

  • Tier 1+ lost the ability to see instructor name.

    A: From the Sys Admin panel, Tier 1+ users can no longer see the instructor name or sort by them.

    This feature has been removed. An enhancement request to bring this functionality back has been filed with Blackboard.

  • Tier 1+ unable to directly link to courses after searching for them in the Sys Admin panel.

    A: After searching for a course, Tier 1+ members cannot access a course by clicking the course link. This issue occurs when attempting to access a course that has an issue (such as files unable to be opened).

    Tier 1+ should use the chevrons next to the course ID to enroll themselves as an instructor in the course. (The "Quick Unenroll" button will be available to you once inside the course.)

    Blackboard is working with us to resolve this issue.