Center for Educational Resources and Technology at DSU

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Internet Explorer and Blackboard, not so perfect together

Internet Explorer logo with no symbolA number of issues have been identified with Blackboard Learn when using the Internet Explorer browser. Recent issues include:

  • Problems with hyperlinks in Blackboard Portfolios
  • Intermittent issues with the inline grading tool
  • Images and fonts change in Modules when using the Back button
  • Problems uploading files to assignments

The DEIT team would like to remind everyone that Internet Explorer is not a supported browser when using Blackboard (support ended in Q4, 2018). Please use a different browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, or Microsoft Edge.

Additional information

Microsoft is no longer actively developing Internet Explorer and has recommended it not be your default web browser – https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Windows-IT-Pro-Blog/The-perils-of-using-Internet-Explorer-as-your-default-browser/ba-p/331732.

A security exploit was found in March 2019 with Internet Explorer that “allows hackers to spy on you and steal personal data from your PC” (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2019/04/15/warning-internet-explorer-just-became-a-silent-but-serious-threat-to-every-windows-user/#7c4c9cb886d8)

Unless needed for a specific site, it may be best to remove Internet Explorer from your computer. The steps outlined by Microsoft to remove Internet Explorer are below.

  • Press the Windows logo key+R to open the Run box.
  • Type appwiz.cpl, and then select OK.
  • In the the Programs and Features item, select Turn Window features on or off.
  • In the Windows Features dialog box, locate the entry for the installed version of Internet Explorer. For example, locate the Internet Explorer 11 entry. Then, clear the check box.
  • Select OK to commit the change.
  • Restart the computer.

Recently Added Features of Respondus Monitor

Respondus Monitor builds upon the power of LockDown Browser, and uses a student’s webcam and video analytics to prevent cheating during non-proctored exams. As of February 2019, several new features have become available.

Facial detection check prior to an exam

Respondus Monitor performs a facial detection check before the start of an exam. This helps students identify problems with badly positioned webcams, poor lighting, and prevents the intentional covering of a webcam. One of the default options during the check is to prevent students from starting the exam if their face cannot be detected during the Startup Sequence.

Screenshot of Respondus facial detection step

Facial detection alerts during exam

The system alerts students during the exam when facial detection is lost for a certain length of time. A quick adjustment is usually all it takes. While the alerts only occur only once per minute, if students are permitted to use textbooks or other resources this option should be disabled to avoid having text-takers experience frequent notifications.

Pre-exam tips

A new optional step in the startup sequence helps students avoid things that trigger false “flags” within the system.

Screen describing some of the exam tips

Blackboard Quizzes and Exams: Force Completion and Respondus LockDown Browser Password

When administering a quiz or test online via Blackboard, the Distance Education and Instructional Technology (DEIT) department suggests that the Force Completion test option not be selected.

With Force Completion selected, any exit from the quiz or test counts as the student’s attempt – this applies even in the instance of a device malfunction or loss of Internet connectivity (using a wireless internet connection can have common, brief breaks in connectivity). In these instances, students are unable to recover any work they’ve completed on the exam (quizzes and tests cannot be reopened where the student left off). This often leads to a lot of laborious workarounds to get one or two students caught up for a technical error.

Instead, DEIT recommends using the Timer function along with turning the Auto Submit feature ON.

With this setup, a student has exactly as long as you allow from the time they start the exam (the clock is dependent upon the Blackboard server, so if a student starts a test at 1PM with a time limit of 60 minutes, they only have until 2PM to finish – they cannot exit at 1:20PM and then still have 40 minutes to use whenever they so choose). This provides students an opportunity to recover from potential system glitches or loss of Internet.

If you also want to ensure that students cannot close out of the test to check other resources, please activate the Respondus LockDown Browser for quizzes and exams.

*All students have access to the LockDown Browser tab on the navigation menu in each course, which will walk them through the process of downloading, installing, and testing the functionality of the LockDown Browser software prior to attempting a graded assessment with this tool.

If the LockDown Browser is activated for a quiz or exam, Respondus creates a unique string of letters and numbers in the Password field under Test Options to connect to that assessment.

 

 

This password should not be modified or removed (if students are properly using the LockDown Browser, they will not be prompted for it).

In the instance that the password is modified or removed, students will receive a message stating that there is a problem with the test settings and to contact the instructor. To fix the problem, go back to the Respondus LockDown Browser Dashboard (under Course Tools > Respondus LockDown Browser) and click on the Fix It button, which will be located to the right of the quiz/test name.

If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding the Force Completion test option or the password that’s created with the use of the Respondus LockDown Browser, please contact DEIT at deit@desales.edu (or by phone at 610-282-1100 ext. 2290).

Blackboard Unavailable July 24-25 for SaaS Migration


Blackboard will be unavailable on July 24 and 25 as we transition from “managed hosting” to “software-as-a-service (SaaS)”. System users will not encounter any major changes to the interface on July 26 other than some minor upgrades. The SaaS infrastructure is designed to eliminate the need for system shutdowns for upgrades in the future and will assure that DeSales always has the latest version of Blackboard deployed. Questions? Contact DEIT at 610-282-1100 x2290 or deit@desales.edu.

Blackboard assignments and Safari 11.1

Appple logoApple Inc released a security update to the Safari 11 browser on March 29, 2018 (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208695). Safari 11.1 contains a number of improvements. However, the update appears to cause problems when trying to submit assignments to Blackboard.

Blackboard Inc has identified a known issue with Safari 11.1 when it comes to submitting assignments. Students attempting to use Safari 11.1 to upload files to assignments will receive an error message – Failed to submit Assignment. Please try again.

Blackboard is working on some fixes but it appears likely the issue will not be resolved at DeSales until the switch to SaaS this Summer (http://blogs.desales.edu/deit/2018/04/03/blackboard-down-for-upgrade-july-24-25-2018/). The workaround is to use a different browser – Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, for example, to submit Blackboard assignments.

The DeSales DEIT team

New annotation options in Box View

Blackboard uses an application programming interface (API) from Box, Inc to provide faculty the ability to review and annotate assignment submissions. Two features were added to the API in late March:

  • Point Annotations have been made “sticky” – after clicking on the Point Annotation button graders will be taken into “point annotation mode” that allows for multiple comments without selecting the point annotation tool for every entry.

Box view toolbar with point comment highlighted

  • A new Drawing Annotation mode – while grading, freeform drawings can be added to assignment submissions using a mouse or any touch-enabled device.  Box view toolbar with drawing annotation tool highlighted

 

Both options are available for new assignment submissions and can be retroactively added to earlier submissions.

Blackboard Down! For Upgrade July 24-25, 2018

 

 

If you are a faculty member teaching or planning to work in Blackboard over the summer, be aware that the Blackboard Learn learning management system (LMS) will be unavailable for 48 hours during the entirety of July 24 and 25. Plan accordingly and make sure your students plan as well.

Note that even during the LMS shutdown, you can host synchronous Blackboard Collaborate or Zoom sessions outside of the Blackboard Learn LMS. If you wish to keep to your normal Tuesday or Wednesday night live online session, you can do that by sending your students a link to enter the session from a web browser directly rather than through the Blackboard Learn LMS.

Questions? Contact DEIT at 610-282-1100 x2290 or deit@desales.edu.

 

Video and Blackboard, So Happy Together – Online Workshop Tonight 3/5 at 7

Join “Swami Jim” Holton online tonight at 7 pm for:

Bb Specialty Topic: Video and Blackboard, So Happy Together

Location: http://tinyurl.com/DEITmeet

Questions or more info: 610-282-1100 x2290 or deit@desales.edu

Improving your course’s look and feel

Part of the design of Blackboard courses should include a consideration of the visual nature of the material. There are several things that can be done to improve the way a course looks.

Picture formatting

When putting images into Blackboard, not only should an image description be added for accessibility purposes, but an image’s placement and appearance can be controlled.

On the Appearance tab, a sample thumbnail shows how your choices will appear.Appearance menu

  • Setting the Alignment helps control the location of the picture. The most common options are Left and Right.
  • Selecting the check box for Constrain Proportions and changing the dimensions, the image is resized without horizontal or vertical distortion.
  • Adding a value for Vertical Space moves the picture up or down in relation to the text. Adding vertical space can help center a picture on the screen.
  • Adding a value for Horizontal Space moves the picture left or right.

If you want your image to appear right or left of a block of text, type your text in the editor first. Then, move your cursor to the beginning of the text and insert your image there. After you add your image in the General tab, move to the Appearance tab to choose your alignment, dimensions, and space around the image.

Using tables to control text

Either in relation to pictures or on its own, the use of tables can add clarity to the text in a course. To begin, use the Insert/Edit table button to add a table.

Table screenshot

 

Each row, and cell can be controlled. For example, using the Table Row Properties button  will allow a background color to be added and the text color changed to one or more rows. The Table Cell Properties button  will do the same for any cell currently selected within a table.

Hint: using a table is also a good way to offset text. Add a table with two columns and one row. Placing all the text in one column while adding a few spaces into the other column can add white space to an item in Blackboard. Ex:

Example of whitespace

 

Add space to list items

Content of ordered and unordered lists can be modified by:

  1. Selecting the text in the list
  2. Clicking in the CSS button in the toolbar
  3. Switching to the Box menu
  4. Deselect the “Same for All” checkbox on the right-side list, and entering a value in the Bottom A value of 4-6 pixels work best.
  5. Deselect the checkbox for “Insert span at selection”
  6. Click on the Update button

Adding space can have a subtle but powerful effect on the ability to read the text.

Bullet spacing

 

 

 

Printable version of this guide

New Workshop! Improving Your Course’s Look and Feel- Monday, 2/5

Visual aids have long been a staple of instruction. This workshop will cover how a course’s visual look and feel can be improved to enhance student interest, engagement, and learning. Topics include the use and formatting of pictures, using tables to move text, and even a bit of CSS code knowledge.

This workshop will take place on Monday, 2/5 at 7 pm (online). To register click here!

Questions? Contact DEIT at deit@desales.edu or 610-282-1100 x2290

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