Thursday, October 31, 2013

Known Issue: Notification sent to student when an instructor saves a grade as a draft

The new Blackboard notifications feature alerts students whenever an assignment they've submitted has been graded. We've also learned that students are receiving an "assignment graded" notice even though the instructor might still be in the process of grading, and has used the "Save as Draft" option. This is causing confusion for students because when they attempt to view the grade for that item, it is blank.

We've notified Blackboard and have been assured they are going to address the issue, although no specific time frame has been given. In the meantime, students can edit their notification settings to turn off that particular alert. The settings are located on the Blackboard main page (after logging into Blackboard).

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Single Sign-On for Blackboard has Arrived

Students and instructors who are logged into MyOttawa will now be routed directly to their Blackboard home page when clicking the Blackboard link on MyOttawa.  They will not be prompted to sign in to Blackboard.  However, this does not work in reverse. That is, when logged into Blackboard, if a resource requires authentication to MyOttawa (e.g., library databases) and the user hasn’t already logged into MyOttawa, he or she will be prompted for MyOttawa credentials.  In other words, signing in to Blackboard does not automatically sign you in to MyOttawa. 

If you have an additional Blackboard account or an account that has a username that does not match your MyOttawa username (e.g., such as CAPS advisors, deans of instruction, or users with special accounts set up for assessments) you’ll receive the following error if you click the Blackboard link from the MyOttawa homepage and you are logged in to MyOttawa.

If you receive this message, return to MyOttawa and logout and then click the Blackboard link.  This will take you to the Blackboard login page.  If you need access to both the MyOttawa portal and Blackboard at the same time, we recommend you first login to Blackboard and then return to the MyOttawa portal and log in there.

As always, if you have any questions or need assistance with your login, please contact OU Help.

Help eliminate problems with discussions freezing!

Pasting Text from Microsoft Word into Blackboard Discussion Boards

Because of potential issues with internet connections dropping or browsers timing out, we recommend that you write lengthy texts in a word processor prior to placing them in Blackboard.  However, it is not recommended that you format your text in the word processor.  You should do all of your formatting in Blackboard.

Pasting text from Microsoft Word into Blackboard is problematic in that it brings over extraneous HTML code that causes some browsers to freeze when attempting to display the text.  Thus, please follow the simple instructions below to remove this extraneous code upon pasting your text.  You can then format your text using the editor in Blackboard.  Following this easy paste process will ensure that everyone has a problem-free experience opening discussion posts and announcements.

The following table shows:
  • the key combinations for pasting text that has been copied from Word that will automatically remove the extra HTML formatting.
  • what happens when a given browser attempts to display a discussion post that has been pasted from Word without the extra HTML code from MS Word stripped.

Displaying Discussion Posts
(when the extra HTML code has NOT been removed)
(most recent version)
Use this in the Blackboard editor when pasting to strip extraneous MS Word HTML code*
(Windows 7)
(OS 10.8.5)
PC: Shift-Ctrl-v
Mac: Shift-command-v
Usually renders extraneous HTML from MS Word
Usually renders extraneous HTML from MS Word
PC: Shift-Ctrl-v
Mac: Shift-command-v
Freezes upon encountering extraneous HTML from MS Word
Freezes upon encountering extraneous HTML from MS Word
Internet Explorer
PC: Ctrl-v PC**
Mac: N/A
Freezes upon encountering extraneous HTML from MS Word
PC: Ctrl-v**
Mac: No option*
Usually renders extraneous HTML from MS Word
Usually renders extraneous HTML from MS Word

*Alternatively, copy and paste your text from MS Word to Notepad (PC) or TextEdit (Mac) to strip out the formatting.  Then copy/paste from there to the editor in Blackboard and apply the formatting.
**This removes most of the HTML code – enough so that it doesn’t cause browsers to freeze.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Technical Notes - How to Have the Best Experience Possible with Blackboard

As the Fall2 term gets underway, we’d like to remind everyone that Firefox is the only browser certified for use with Blackboard. If you’re using other browsers such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Safari you might experience issues with items not displaying correctly or working properly. Switching to Firefox alleviates most of these types of issues. What’s more, it’s a free download so it’s no cost to you to make the switch.

Download Firefox for Windows
Download Firefox for Mac

On a related note, all major browsers have implemented a security feature which blocks content when there is both secure and unsecure content on a page. For example, that might mean you can’t view a video that is supposed to be part of your course content. In Firefox you can identify this is happening when you see a small “shield” icon in your address bar.

You can allow mixed content on the page by clicking on the shield icon and selecting "Disable Protection on This Page":

Monday, October 21, 2013

Upcoming Training on Writing and Research Resources

As the term kicks off this week, we know many of our students are starting work on their first essay papers. Did you know we have two fantastic resources - the Myers Library and NetTutor - that can assist in the writing process?
  1. NetTutor is our free online tutoring service, and on October 25th we'll have a representative of NetTutor available to give us an Ottawa University specific product tour (including the online writing lab). It takes place at Noon (Central time) and is conducted via webinar so you can join the session from anywhere you have an internet connection and a phone! Visit our registration page for more details and to sign up.
  2. We are also very pleased to announce training to learn about the Myers Library resources. Would you like to know more about the online tools and resources that assist you with writing and research? In this session you'll receive an overview of what’s available online, where to find it, and how these resources can help you! Includes a demonstration of navigating the Myers Library resources, finding and searching databases, and much more! This session takes place on Wednesday, October 30th from 4:00-5:00pm (Central time) and is also conducted via webinar. Visit the registration page for more details and to sign-up.
Space in these training sessions are limited to 25 participants each, so please be sure to register in advance if you're interested in attending.

Training sessions are open to all Ottawa University students, staff, and instructors who would benefit from knowing more about what these resources have to offer.

Contact Karen Ludwig at with questions.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Coming Soon: New for Fall 2

We're excited to share some new features coming your way for the Fall 2 term!

Improved access to library resources

Now you'll have access to Myers Library resources directly from within Blackboard, rather than needing to go to the MyOttawa portal. While some databases still require that you log in to the MyOttawa portal, now you'll have the links to the resources right where you do your learning.

Screen shot of the Myers Library presence embedded within the Blackboard learning environment.

Get notifications when stuff happens in your course

Now you have the option to get an email or a push notification when there is activity in your course.  Notifications are sent to your Ottawa University email account and/or via the Bb Mobile Learn app.  Unless you change your settings, you will begin receiving the following notifications this weekend.  You can opt-out of these notifications any time.  Instructions about how to do this are in every email notification.

You can set your notifications to be the same for all courses or you can set them individually for each of your courses.  The full scoop on how to manage your notifications for both email and the Bb Mobile Learn app is in this documentation.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall2 Training Reminders

The Fall2 term start is just around the corner! To help you prepare, we have training available for students and instructors this week and next. Training is conducted via webinar to make it available to our entire academic community, regardless of location. All you need is access to an internet-connected computer and a phone to participate. Click the title of a training topic to view session dates and times, and to register. All sessions are limited to 25 participants so be sure to register early!

For Everyone:

Myers Library - In this session you'll receive an overview of what’s available online, where to find it, and receive a demonstration of navigating the Myers Library resources such as finding and searching databases, and much more!

NetTutor - NetTutor is an online tutoring service made available to all Ottawa University students free of charge. In this session instructors, students, and student support will view a product demonstration and learn about the services NetTutor has to offer.

Just For Students:

Learning and Interacting in the Virtual Environment - Are you taking an online course, or hybrid course such as MyChoice? Then join us for a Blackboard training session where we'll guide you through how Blackboard works and explain course expectations.

Just For Instructors:

Overview of Blackboard for Beginners - Instructors will learn the standard components available in Blackboard that complement their face-to-face course.

Blackboard Announcements and Discussions - Learn how to post your own course announcements (including attaching files, video announcements and adding links to resources) and utilize the discussion feature and in Blackboard.

Blackboard Grade Book Fundamentals - Learn how to utilize the grade book in Blackboard. Think of this as grade book "boot camp".

Inline Assignment Grading - For instructors who already know how to grade but just need to know about this new feature.

Blackboard Tools and Resources - We'll cover new features and old favorites that support your teaching.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Meet Your Office of Academic Technology Team

Our team recently met for a day-long strategic planning retreat, where we focused on priorities for the upcoming year.

Pictured left-to-right: Carine Ullom, Karen Ludwig, Brian Long, and Kathie Wayne
holding the pieces to the academic technology puzzle

We thought you’d enjoy “meeting” us and hearing about some of the items we have in store for you. Here are just a few highlights:
  • Implement TurnItIn (Plagiarism prevention software)
  • Implement identity verification
  • Support the e-portfolio rollout
  • Improve instructor support (training) at the College
  • Enable virtual office hours for instructors and the Student Support Team
  • Maintain currency of our Blackboard system by completing two upgrades (December and June)
  • Support the rollout of additional Blackboard systems (such as Community and Collaborate)
  • Explore ways to support the use of Zoom for teaching and learning

We hope you’re just as excited about the future as we are!

Do you have questions or suggestions for us? Send us a note at

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Annual Educause Virtual Conference next Wednesday, October 16th

On Wednesday, October 16, 2013 the Annual Educause Virtual Conference will be streamed at Johnson County Community College.

The free Conference is from 9:30am - 6:30pm with multiple facilitated sessions, including the key note speech Leading a Culture of Innovation” as presented by Sir Ken Robinson.  The event is hosted by Colleague to Colleague (C2C). Lunch will be on your own but the opportunity to network and brainstorm with your colleagues will be priceless!  

For more information:

Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, KS in the Carlsen Center (Room 211).

Contact Beth Ramirez, 913.469.8500, ext. 3670, or to if you plan to attend the JCCC session.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Wait! Don’t pay that app fee!

Ottawa University students and faculty can now get the Blackboard Mobile Learn app FREE!

The Blackboard Mobile App was recently refreshed. In addition to being able to access your weekly materials, grades, discussions, and syllabus, you can now link Dropbox to Blackboard Mobile and upload documents to discussions and blogs as explained below. [NOTE: It is not possible at this time to upload documents to assignments.]

Create a FREE Dropbox account, go to Once have the Dropbox app on your mobile device, open the app and follow the prompts to log into your account.

Link Dropbox account to Blackboard Mobile:
  1. Open the Blackboard Learn App on your mobile device
  2. Select Settings in the bottom left corner of the Dashboard
  3. Tap the “Link Dropbox” option
  4. Select “Allow”

Now you can upload items that are in your Dropbox to your discussions and blogs in Blackboard!

To learn more about everything possible with the newest version of the Mobile Learn app, visit the Blackboard Mobile product page. [NOTE: Push notifications shown on this web page are not currently available but we anticipate that they will be available before the end of this calendar year.]

If you have issues with Bb Mobile Learn, please contact Blackboard Mobile Learn Support or check out these FAQs.