The Faculty Knowledge Base is a repository of help documentation and tutorials on how to use the educational technology at the University of Pittsburgh, chief of which being the BlackBoard learning management system, as well as the Panopto video streaming service. Items in the Faculty Knowledge Base are organized into broader categories and more distinct tags, as well as a difficulty level, all of which can be accessed on the right-hand navigation pane to filter your view of available topics. You can click through some frequently asked BlackBoard questions by selecting on CourseWeb FAQs at the top of the page, or simply search for any keywords pertaining to your area of interest in the search field above.
Course shells are created automatically based on information in PeopleSoft. They are usually created roughly three months prior to the start of the term for which they are listed, so all that you need to do is log into Blackboard and check your My Courses list. Courses are usually listed alpha-numerically, so later terms generally appear at the bottom of this list. Once you’ve found your course shell, click it to enter your course and begin building content. You may want to refer to the Setting Up a New Course roadmap.
All instructor and student users are added automatically, so you should not need to enroll any of your students unless there is a special case. If you are not seeing a course in your My Courses list, then it is likely that that the instructor was not listed properly in PeopleSoft. To get enrolled as an instructor in a course, contact your department’s PeopleSoft administrator.
In your Course Management Control Panel, open up Customization and select Properties.
Once there, go to Set Availability and set it to Yes.
Click Submit to save.
- Navigate to any Content Area, such as Course Documents or Syllabus.
- Locate the Lock Switch icon in the top right corner, between Edit Mode and the Course Theme icons.
- Toggle the Lock Switch to ‘locked’ or ‘unlocked’ to make the course available or unavailable.
At the top right corner of your My Courses area, there is a gear-shaped icon. Mousing over this icon will say “Manage My Courses Module Settings”. Click on the icon.
The next area will say Edit Course List. This will contain a list of all courses that you are enrolled in. To hide a course from this list, simple un-check the corresponding box for that course under the Course Name column. Click Submit to save your selection.
For an in-depth illustration of these features, see the knowledge base entry on Hiding Courses.
If you see a course you are not enrolled in, contact the Registrar’s Office to have your enrollment removed from it
- Access the course you want to copy from.
- On the Control Panel, expand the Packages and Utilities section and click Course Copy.
- In the Destination Course ID box, use the Browse button to find the course you would like to copy the materials into.
- Select the course materials that you want to copy over, or click Select All to copy all course content and materials.
- In the File Attachments section, select the option to copy links to:
- Copy Links to Course Files: No copies of linked files are included in the copy. The copied course will have the same set of links and those links will point back to the original location of the link defined in the original course.
- Copy links and copies of the content: This will make copies of linked files, but ONLY those files that are linked. Files within the course’s home folder that are not linked to any content within the course are not included in the copy. Most users will choose this option.
- Copy links and copies of the content (include entire course home folder): This will make copies of ALL files in the course’s home folder regardless of whether those files are linked to course content. This is the selection to use if you have Captivate, Articulate, SCORM or other programattic content in your course.You need manage permission on an item to include copies of those files. If you do not have this permission, you may be missing some files after the copy.
- Click Submit.
Fore more information, see the Instructor Course Copy article.
Importing your course allows you to upload the contents and materials from your old Blackboard course into your new Blackboard course shell. You will need to create an Export Package (see How do I export my course? above) in order to import your course material. Course Imports can be accessed in your Course Management Control Panel by opening up the Packages and Utilities menu.
Just follow the instructions on the tutorial Importing Your Course.
There are 2 ways for your students to view their grades in Blackboard:
1. Clicking on the My Grades button located in their Global Navigation menu.
2. Clicking on the Course Menu item called My Grades that is part of the default menu for all new Blackboard course shells. The My Grades area is unavailable to students by default, so they cannot see this menu item until you make it available to students.
From the Control Panel, click User and Groups and select Users from the drop-down menu.
To view an entire class roster, click on the Show All button located on the bottom-right of the page.
Navigate directly to the area in your course into which you want to add content (e.g. Course Documents). Make sure the Edit Mode button is turned ON. Content can be added to your course using the buttons on the action bar at the top of the content frame.
To add a new content area, click on the plus icon located at the top of your Course Menu.
- Select Content Area or Tool Link from the drop-down menu.
- Enter a name for the Content Area in the Name field.
- Check the Available to Users box to make the Content Area available to students and guests and click Submit.
First, always make sure that any desired content for the student to view is set to Available. For more on how to do this, see our post on Using the Assignment Tool.
Also, using a web browser that is not certified for Blackboard may cause problems for students attempting to open a test/assignment, submit a test/assignment, or use the file upload feature. See Supported Browsers Tutorial for a list of web browsers currently supported by Blackboard.
When a student completes and submits an assignment, it will automatically show up in the Grade Center.
A Needs Grading icon will appear in the corresponding assignment column. Each assignment can be graded individually, or all student assignment files can be downloaded at one time, which saves time when viewing the submissions. Files are packaged in a zip file format for downloading to your personal storage device. The zipped package includes each file submitted by the student labeled with the name of the assignment, student’s username, and file name given by the student. It also includes a .txt file labeled with the student’s username, which contains any text that the student provided in the Comments area of the assignment with the student’s user name. This file naming convention also makes it easier to identify which files are associated with each student.
For more on viewing submitted assignments, see our post on Using the Assignment Tool.
You may have noticed a green check-mark appearing in one of your Grade Center columns. The check-mark would look something like this:
This green check-mark is an External Grade marker. The University does not use this feature of Blackboard, but any column set as External Grade cannot be deleted or edited. There must be one column set as External Grade at all times. In order to delete a column set as External Grade, set another column as External Grade instead, then proceed with deletion.
For more information, please see our Grade Center Overview page.
If your course has an abundance of content or includes sizable files, you may be presented with the following message when trying to upload files:
Action not complete: Adding the selected content to the specified folder causes the folder to exceed its quota.
All courses have a default quota of 250 MB, and when you near or reach this quota, you will be notified. Either way, when your course quota has been reached, you will not be able to upload any further content to your course. You may contact the Technology Help Desk to increase this quota for this individual course. You may also wish to remove large or unneeded files by managing them in your Content Collection. Educational Technology Services encourages you not to upload large media files to your BlackBoard course, and instead use Panopto to stream your course media.
Students who drop the course will not automatically be removed from courses in Blackboard. The student enrollments are only added into Blackboard, but never removed from the system. As the instructor, you are encouraged to remove students who have dropped the course so they will no longer receive communications regarding the course as well as no longer having access to the course contents. You can do this by accessing your Users list in the Users and Groups area in your Course Management Control Panel.
For instructions on how to remove students from your course, please see the article on Managing Course Users.
The FAQs page only lists the most common issues that the Faculty Knowledge Base is equipped to handle. If you can’t find something in the FAQs page, try typing your issue into the Search Bar at the top of the page. Be sure to try a number of different search terminology in order to widen the array of your scope.
If searching the Faculty Knowledge Base does not provide you with what you’re looking for, please see our Other Resources page.