important safety tips

If you have logged in to Blackboard today at the University of Kentucky, you will have found that the gentle yellow reminder box is now a blazing red. We are very serious about the IMPORTANT INFORMATION CLICK this! message. The link takes you to Bb9 start-up reminders and a quick link to known issues and their workarounds in Bb9.

We’re still getting many questions covering the topics included on the known issues page, so I’m trying to put it out in as many forums as possible. In that spirit, see below the currently known issues and workarounds

Known Issues and Problems in Blackboard

  1. Forum titles (in Discussion Board) appear in alphabetical order instead of the order specified by the instructor. The alphabetizing is a new feature. If you prefer a different order, here’s the workaround: Precede each Forum title with a number (01, 02, 03, etc.) or a letter (A., B., C., etc.).
  2. If students are having difficulty downloading content (PowerPoints, documents, etc.) using Internet Explorer, they should try using Mozilla Firefox 3 instead (http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/). This appears to be a workable solution until support staff can work with Blackboard to correct the problem.
  3. Columns in the Grade Center cannot be deleted. Check the Wiki for a workaround by hiding them.
    Workaround
  4. Grades cannot be saved in the Grade Center. Check the Wiki for the solution.
    Saving grades solution
  5. Web Browsers are getting old and are not supported any more. Go to the Wiki to see the table of Web Browser information.
    Supported Browsers
  6. Firefox does not play MP3 audio files correctly.
    Audio File Aternative
  7. Internet Explored 8 and Timed Tests.
    Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 Important Info
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adding posts in Bb blogs/wikis

If you’ve never added a post to a blog or wiki in Blackboard before, here are some tips – including how to resize an oversized photo. These instructions were created using Internet Explorer 7, and they also work for Firefox 3.  See the Blackboard Wiki (Help Web Site) for a list of certified browsers that work with Bb.

  1. Go to the blog or wiki in the course where you want to upload a photo.
  2. In the blog post, click on the insert photo button (there’s an image of a tree on the button).
  3. In the pop-up box, click the circle next to Upload an image to choose that option.
  4. Click on Browse.
  5. Choose a photo from your computer to upload.
  6. Click on Upload. (Upload will be at the bottom of the pop-up box; if you don’t see it, resize the pop-up box as a little larger).
  7. Wait. (It took me 10 seconds or so before I saw a result. It could even take longer depending upon how your connection is running today – your Internet provider may have a lot of traffic).
  8. When presented with the choice, click Insert.
  9. Wait.
  10. The photo will insert. If it is huge because you were unable to edit it before inserting it, you can change the size. Do so by right-clicking on the image to get a pop-up menu.
  11. Click on Image Properties from the pop-up menu.
  12. Choose the Appearance tab.
  13. Change the Dimensions to something much smaller (you might be guessing what number to type, but you can play with this until it’s right for you – just keep using that right-click menu). Tip: You only have to change one number for Dimensions; the other number will change to the appropriate proportional number.
  14. I also recommend that you choose your Alignment (left, middle, etc.) from the drop-down menu, and that you type the number 2 (at least two, maybe more) next to Vertical Space, Horizontal Space and Border, which give syou more space around the image.
  15. When you are finished, click on Update. (Update will be at the bottom of the pop-up box; if you do not see it, resize the box a little larger.)

If you need to re-adjust, right-click on the photo again to choose Image Properties. Tip: As you save, if you get a message about not having an Image Description, and if you want to add one, you will find it under the General tab in the pop-up box for Image Properties.

“…like herding cats…”

We’re starting to crawl out from under the Bb9 upgrade, so I feel good about going back to my usual Friday Fluff posts! Today, you fill in the blank: “________ is like herding cats!” I’m sure you have a good idea of what to put there. Sometimes moving people to a new release of the course management software is very much like herding cats! 🙂 Enjoy, and happy Friday.

fixes for Bb9

Fixes for a few items have been posted on my Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/connectedcampus. I also just want to say THANKS for all the people who have been and are being helpful in the Bb9 Release. That includes IT folk like Nick McClure and his band of merry men, Help Desk heroes Frank Johnson, Sarah Asher, Sidney Scott and many many more there (Help Desk ROCKS I kid you not), and instructors who have patiently (and sometimes not patiently, but that’s okay) brought us their issues for fixing and have been specific about how they are using (including screen shots – you rock too!). And of course my great Instructional Technology team – Brett McClure, Claire Carpenter, Patrick Logan, Erskine Clinton … and Mike Weikel for moral support! We’re not done yet, but it’s a good moment to say, hey, we can’t do it alone. We’re all part of the solution. Thank you!

Bb quick fix to a problem

UK Bb instructors: If your students are having difficulty downloading content (PowerPoints, documents, etc.) using Internet Explorer, they should try using Mozilla Firefox 3 instead (http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/). This appears to be a workable solution until support staff can work with Blackboard to correct the problem. Firefox is not difficult to use – it’s just a different Web browser.

Bb9 upgrade updates

As many of you know, my staff is heavily involved (submerged?) in the needs of faculty and instructors as a result of yesterday’s Blackboard 9 upgrade. I’m pleased to report that most of the difficulties have been medium to minor (though there are a couple of pretty difficult ones). On the other hand, when it’s happening to you, it’s major, no matter what anyone else thinks – and I say that in all sincerity.

Where are we? Well, I’m glad you asked. Here’s the current state of the upgrade (and if you contact Help Desk about a problem, please specify which browser, including version number, you are using – sometimes it makes a difference):

  • Bb’s tool that pulls feeds from SAP is not working, and so student enrollment is not happening automatically as it should. The problem has been ticketed to Blackboard, and it’s been bumped to Tier 2 Support. IT is in contact with Bb, and in contact with my staff. It’s obviously top priority. In the meantime, my staff is pulling Excel spreadsheets from SAP and doing a manual enrollment daily. Not fun, but definitely necessary to keep things moving.
  • Blogs and wikis (Campus Pack Learning Objects, for those who have used them) are not working well in Bb9, but the reason is fairly straightforward and we’re working on it now. We believe we’re close to a resolution. A “patch” was supplied by the software company, and we working diligently to ensure that the code is updated across the system today.
  • A few instructors have had difficulty making their course available. This seems to be intermittent, and we’re hoping it  has been resolved, but please report to Help Desk at 257-1300 if you have this difficulty. It can be resolved for you easily, but we’re also tracking every instance to ensure it’s being resolved.
  • Announcements. Ack. Some instructors can’t add them. Some can’t make old ones go away. This is a priority today. Report this problem to Help Desk at 257-1300 if it’s causing problems within your course.
  • In Contacts, the photo is overlapping text (no matter how you resize that photo). This has been ticketed with Blackboard.
  • TurningPoint users, there is no building block for TurningPoint in Bb9. We’re pressing for it. Stay tuned.
  • A few instructors have reported content missing. In some cases, this has been the result of the Edit Mode not being clicked to ON. (See top right corner in Bb9 for Edit Mode.) For a few others, it has been a different issue. Report to Help Desk at 257-1300.
  • At least two instructors have had difficulty accessing testing that they have created. We’re looking into that today.

I haven’t listed some individual items that appear to be single instances. Also, there are a couple of other cosmetic issues, but we’re trying to deal with the content-related issues first. Remember that when you call Help Desk, they will bump items up that need TASC’s attention to our instructional technologists. This is what we’re working on this week – we even have a Tier 2 Help Desk person in our offices this week so that we can be in very close contact with Help Desk. We’re working on all issues that need attention in the most collaborative way possible. Go team!

tweeting Bb9 upgrade

I’m using Twitter to update on Bb9. You can follow me at http://twitter.com/connectedcampus  (@connectedcampus); or just follow the feed as it appears at right in my blog page: https://technology180.wordpress.com/ (though those posts are sometimes delayed).