Center for Educational Resources and Technology at DSU

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Bb Grade Center Workshops January 24 – Choose 3 pm in Dooling 40 or 7 pm online

“Should I use weighted categories or points?” “Should I weight columns ‘equally’ or ‘proportionally’?” “How can I add an extra credit item?” “How can I automatically bring grades from publisher online sites and other third-parties into Blackboard?” “How can I add new grading categories?”

These questions and more will be answered at DEIT’s upcoming training workshops on the Blackboard Grade Center on Wednesday, January 24.

Two options are available (registration appreciated at

If you have questions or topics you’d like to be addressed at the session, contact DEIT at 610-282-1100, ext. 2290 or

The New Box View

The Blackboard Assignment feature has an online document viewer and online marking interface named Crocodoc, which is a third party technology licensed by Blackboard. Crocodoc will stop working on January 15, 2018 as the technology has been deprecated by the third party supplier. A replacement document viewer and online marking interface will be made available as part of an update supplied by Blackboard. The new inline grading tool is known as the new Box View and will be activated on December 21st as part of the upgrade to Blackboard.

What happens when we move to the new document viewer and online marking interface in December?

When we move to the new document viewer and online marking interface all existing assignments that were submitted in Blackboard will be transitioned to the new interface. There will be a short time where it will not be possible to view Blackboard assignment submissions using the marking interface, but the submissions can be downloaded directly to your computer.

Once the transition to the new document viewer and online marking interface is complete assignments that were marked with the old interface will have any annotations that had been made during marking “burned in” and those existing annotations will no longer be editable. Blackboard has also informed its customers of an issue where comments made within Crocodoc, especially lengthy comments, may get cut off by the right margin within the new Box View. Additional annotations can be made over the top of these old assignments if required.

New and existing assignments will then use the new document viewer and online marking interface.

What changes will I notice with the new document viewer and online marking interface for Blackboard Assignments?

The new document viewer and online marking interface for Blackboard Assignments will have much better support for file types and fonts and will resolve a known issue with rendering of some documents.

The new document viewer and online marking interface will not immediately support “freehand drawing” over a submission – only comments and highlighting.

The image below shows the old and new interfaces side by side.

Assignment view comparison

This table compares the two annotation services.

Functions and DetailsCrocodocNew Box View
File types for conversionPDF, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX, DOC, and DOCXOver 100 different file types, including video, audio, image, and programming code

File Types and Fonts Supported in Box Content Preview

File types for annotationPDF, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX, DOC, and DOCXPDF, DOC, DOCX, ODT, PPT, PPTX and ODP

New Box View also supports only point-based annotations on these file formats: AI, BMP, DCM, EPS, GIF, PNG, PS, PSD, SVS, TGA, TIF, and TIFF

Course areasOriginal assignments, Ultra assignments, and in Ultra tests’ additional submission areaOriginal assignments, Ultra assignments, and in Ultra tests’ additional submission area
Annotation typesText- and point-based comments, highlighting, and drawingPoint-based comments and highlighting
DownloadUsers download a copy of a student file with the option to download in the original format or in a PDF version that includes the annotationsUsers can download a copy of a student file, but annotations won’t appear
Print functionNoYes
StudentsCan’t add annotations to documentsCan’t add annotations to documents
Bb GraderCan add annotations to documentsCan add annotations to documents with workaround

Annotate submissions in Bb Grader app


What do I need to do?

If at all possible, consider not grading assignments during the week of December 17th unless all of the assignments can be graded prior to the 20th. Delaying grading will avoid any problems if grades/comments need to be changed for recently graded assignments.

Blackboard Down for Maintenance Thursday, December 21 from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm

On Thursday, December 21st from 6:30 am until 6:30 pm Blackboard will be unavailable due to maintenance. Instructors and students should plan accordingly.

This maintenance window has been selected to minimize the adverse impact on the university community, but we recognize that some inconvenience may occur.

Questions? Contact DEIT at 610-282-1100 or 

Sign up for a Modest Course Makeover!

Take the time to connect with the DEIT team and see how your course can be made more accessible and engaging for students. Let our instructional designers be your course’s interior decorators!

From simple visual renovations (text formatting, content realignment, banner/image creation and placement, etc.) to integrating the Grade Center, Due Dates, and Calendar set up, the DEIT remodeling crew will work with you to make a good course even better!

To cap off the process, you’ll revisit with the DEIT staff to review the suggested revisions and edits, and then it’s all up to you: do you love the new course and keep it, or do you want to tweak it?

What are you waiting for? Take a crack at swinging that Blackboard hammer and renovate some content folders; DEIT is here to help with the heavy-lifting!

Sign up here or contact DEIT at 610-282-1100 x2290 or

Blackboard and Dropbox – Perfect Together

DeSales University’s Blackboard-Dropbox integration allows instructors and learners to easily link to and upload their Dropbox content into their Blackboard Learn courses.

Instructors and learners can link to their Dropbox content directly from Blackboard Learn using the mashup menu found in most content creation workflows: content creation, tests, discussion boards, blogs, journals, wikis, announcements, feedback, and grading notes. Instructors and learners enter their Dropbox credentials to access their content the first time this feature is used, and the credentials are cached for future use.

Benefits of the Dropbox integration

As a cloud storage platform, Dropbox is available anywhere there is an Internet connection. Cloud storage of files also allows instructors to quickly update content. Instructors can post links to Dropbox content in multiple courses. As changes are made to the files in Dropbox, the changes will be reflected in each course containing the link. Does this mean students can change an assignment submission after the fact if they use Dropbox? Answer: no, it does not. Assignment submissions made in Blackboard link to a specific revision of the file that was current as of the time it was submitted. Any changes made to the file after the point of submission will be ignored. Students would need to resubmit the file for the changes to be available.

For more information …

Additional documentation is available here (pdf format). For additional information, contact DEIT at 610-282-1100 x2290 or or come see us in Dooling Hall, Room 40.


Blackboard Discussion Boards

Discussions are a popular interaction tool in Blackboard courses. When using surveys, there are a few items to keep in mind:

  • When added to a content area such as the Weekly Units area of a Blackboard course, what is being created is a link. Changing the link name or description does not change the corresponding discussion. Deleting the link will not delete the discussion.
  • All course discussions are listed in the Discussion Board menu within a course. Making a discussion link unavailable or putting a date restriction on a link will hide the forum in the Discussion Board menu. Putting an available discussion link in a hidden folder will not hide the discussion in the Discussion Board menu.

Additional information from “About Discussions, Forums, and Threads” (

Discussions are a good way to encourage students to think critically about your coursework and interact with each others’ ideas. You can create discussions around individual course lessons or for your course in general. As the instructor, you own the discussions. After you start a discussion, you can post comments of your own to guide students.

Just as it is critical to plan and structure your course content, you need to provide structure for online discussions.

The main discussion board page displays a list of forums. A forum is where participants discuss a topic or a group of related topics. Within each forum, users can create multiple threads. A thread includes the initial post and all replies to it. You can create forums and threads to organize discussions into units or topics relevant to your course.

Discussions appear sequentially so all course members can follow the conversation.

Creating a Blackboard Banner Using PowerPoint

This article explains the steps necessary for creating a custom Blackboard course banner using Microsoft PowerPoint.

Creating a custom Banner for a Blackboard course using Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 (or any other version) is a two part process: First you need to create your banner, then you need to upload it to your Blackboard course.

Part 1: Creating your custom Banner with PowerPoint

  1. Choose Start a new presentation, then choose the Design Tab.Design tab
  2. Choose Slide Size. Then choose Custom Slide Size.

Custom Slide Size

  1. On the Slide Size window, choose Banner, then OK.


  1. When prompted, choose Maximize. Leave the default banner dimensions.Maximize
  2. In the Presentation screen, add the course name and other preferred information. Add background colors and images as desired.
    MG-201 Banner
  3. Save the completed banner to your computer as a GIF, JPEG, or PNG file. To do this, click the File button at the top left of the screen, select Save As, then select the location. TIP: Saving to the desktop will make finding and uploading it easier. Select .JPG, .GIF, or .PNG as the file type. Click Save.Format Select Screen
  4. Select Just This One.Just This One

Part 2: Uploading your banner to Your Blackboard Course

  1. Enter your Blackboard course, and choose Customization –> Teaching Style.Teaching Style
  2. Scroll to the Select Banner section and choose Browse My Computer.Browse My Computer
  3. Navigate to and select the Banner you made in Part 1 above.Banner Files Select
  4. Verify the correct file is attached and choose Submit.

Banner Submit Screen

Modified from article published by Rachel Myers, Iowa State University (

Blackboard changes to SafeAssign assignments

With the recent update of Blackboard, one of the major changes to the system is the location of SafeAssign. Rather than being its own item under the Assessments menu, SafeAssign is now integrated with the Assignments item. To enable SafeAssign for an assignment:

1. From a Content area, select Assessments…Assignment.

2. On the Create Assignment page, under the Grading section, expand Submission Details.

Assignment Details Screen





3. Select Check submissions for plagiarism using SafeAssign.

Plagiarism Tools Screen






Optionally, select one or both checkboxes for:

  • Allow students to view the SafeAssign originality reports on their submissions.
  • Exclude all student submissions for this assignment from the institutional or global reference databases.

4. Complete the Create Assignment page.

5. Click Submit.

Two Minute Tip: Setting Release Dates on Blackboard Folders

Check out Eric’s Two Minute Tip on YouTube at


Blackboard UPGRADE DOWNTIME on 5/16/2016 @ 8 PM

Blackboard will be upgraded to the October 2014 Service Pack on 5/16/2016 at 8 PM until 8 AM on 5/17/2016.


Normal service for Blackboard will resume after 8 AM on 5/17/ 2016.
Some new features coming to Blackboard with this upgrade include:
  • SafeAssign integrated as an option in regular Assignments
  • Student Preview mode allows instructors to view a course exactly as a student would see the course
  • Ability for instructors to delegate specific users in a course as graders

For more information about these new and updated features, click here:

Questions? Contact DEIT at

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