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Getting Started with Blackboard

Questions with their answers

Where can I get help using Blackboard?

Faculty and Teaching Assistants can contact the Instructional Technology Lab (ITL) Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

You can also review our faculty workshopsonline how-to resources, and Blackboard's Online Support site for Instructors.

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How do students get Blackboard help?

For Blackboard assistance, students can consult the Student Blackboard FAQs or contact GW Information Technology at (202) 994-4948.

Additional Student Resources:

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Do you offer workshops?

Workshops are available online and designed for GW instructors, teaching assistants, and staff supporting instruction. Workshop topics include Blackboard tools, VoiceThread, Echo360, as well as other instructional technologies.

View upcoming workshops.

We do not record our webinars for the privacy of the attendees, however, we have several pre-recorded webinars available.

View pre-recorded webinars.

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How do I create my course in Blackboard?

Courses are not created manually in Blackboard. Instead, courses for which you are listed as the instructor in GWeb are automatically created in Blackboard and associated with your account.

Each semester, Blackboard courses are made available to instructors on the following schedule:

  • Fall Semester (YYYY03): August 1st
  • Spring Semester (YYYY01): December 1st
  • Summer Semester both sessions (YYYY02): April 1st

After these dates, enrollments in Blackboard are updated once a day in the early morning until the end of the semester.

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If I want to get a head start, how can I create a development course?

A Development Course is a Blackboard course shell that is not accessible to students and can be used for preparing for an upcoming semester.

To create a development course, follow these steps:

  1. Open an existing Blackboard course.
  2. Under Control Panel, click Course Tools.
  3. Click More Tools (GW).
  4. Click Create Development Course.
  5. Enter a name for the Development Course.
  6. Click Submit.

Additional Resources:

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How do I add a Teaching Assistant to my course?

  1. Open the Blackboard course.
  2. Go to the Control Panel and click Course Tools.
  3. Click More Tools (GW).
  4. Click Manage Teaching Assistants (TA).
  5. Enter their GW email address.
  6. Click Submit.
  7. Type your initials.
  8. Click Submit.

Additional Resources:

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Where do I find the class roster?

  1. Open the Blackboard course.
  2. Go to the Control Panel and click Course Tools.
  3. Click More Tools (GW).
  4. Click Roster Information. Your roster can be accessed in a printable format and also can be downloaded in Microsoft Excel format.

Additional Resources:

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Is my course automatically available to my students?

By default, a Blackboard course is unavailable for student viewing. When you are ready to make it available, you can do the following:

  1. Open the Blackboard course.
  2. Go to the Control Panel and click Customization.
  3. Click Properties.
  4. Under Set Availability, click Yes.
  5. Click Submit.

Additional Resources:

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Can I view my course from a student's perspective?

Click the Student Preview Mode icon to switch views from Instructor to Student. Submit assignments, take tests, engage in a discussion, participate in a group, check the My Grades page, and more with the Student Preview feature. Below are the steps for navigating your course as a student:

  1. Click the Student Preview Mode icon Blackboard Student Preview Icon located near the top-right corner of your course to enter Student Preview Mode. The orange bar at the top of your Blackboard session indicates you are working in Student Preview Mode.
  2. Navigate the course as a student, and complete the desired activity (e.g., submit an Assignment, take a Test, view My Grades area).
  3. When you are finished, click Exit Preview in the orange bar at the top of your Blackboard session.
  4. Choose to either Delete the preview user and all data or Keep the preview user and all data.

If you choose to Keep the preview user and all data, you can return to Instructor Mode and view the activity of YourNetID_PreviewUser in the course like Assignment submissions and Test results just as you would do for other students.

Learn more about using Student Preview in a Blackboard course.

Additional Resources:

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Allow Third-party cookies

If you receive an error in Blackboard or cannot access videos or tools like Collaborate Ultra, Echo360, or VoiceThread, you may need to configure your browser's cookie settings to allow third-party cookies. It is best to restart your computer after updating any settings.

To unblock or allow third-party cookies in your browser, follow the browser-specific steps below:

Also, check that you are using a supported browser for the tool you are using:

Contact the Instructional Technology Lab for assistance.

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PDF does not load past the first page and I'm being asked to log in.

There is a current issue on some versions of the Chrome browser where a PDF file does not load past the first page or two and users are being asked to log in.

It is not a Blackboard issue but actually has to do with a PDF setting referred to as Fast Web View, which is meant to allow for a PDF to be downloaded one page at a time for faster web viewing. However, Chrome handles this differently from other browsers resulting in the PDF not loading and you being asked to log in.

To view the document, you can:

  1. Use a different browser to view the PDF, like Firefox, Edge, etc.
  2. Download the file to your computer and open it from there:
    • Right-click on the file name and choose to Save link as
    • In Chrome, enter chrome://settings/content/pdfDocuments in the address bar and choose to download PDF files instead of automatically opening them.

To fix the file, you can disable the Fast Web View setting in Adobe Acrobat, re-save the PDF, and replace the file in Blackboard with the modified PDF.

To disable Fast Web View in Adobe Acrobat:

  1. Open the program Adobe Acrobat. (If you don't have this installed, you can install it from GW IT's website. Their number is 202-994-4948 if you need assistance.)
  2. Go to Preferences.
  3. In the Categories list, select Documents.
  4. Under Save Settings, on the right, uncheck the box for Save As Optimizes For Fast Web View.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Open the PDF and re-save it using Save As. This will force the file to be re-saved using the new setting you enabled. Future PDFs that you create/save as on your computer should now automatically be saved without Fast Web View.
  7. You can then upload the newly saved PDF to Blackboard.

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Why won't the Collaborate Ultra page load?

If the Collaborate Ultra page does not load in your course and you instead see a purple spinning wheel, it is most likely because 3rd party cookies are being blocked by your browser, preventing Collaborate Ultra from loading properly.

To change this option in Google Chrome:

  1. Open a Chrome browser window, and type chrome://settings/cookies in the address bar.
  2.  Choose to Allow all Cookies.

More information on allowing third-party cookies.

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I can't share my screen, camera, or microphone when recording with Echo360 Universal Capture.

In newer releases of macOS, all applications now require individual user permission to be set manually for Echo360 to access your camera and microphone or to record your computer’s Desktop (Display):

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Go to Security & Privacy and click the Privacy pane.
  3. Select Screen Recording from the available options and select the checkbox for Echo360 Capture in the apps list.
  4. Repeat step 3 for the Microphone and Camera, if necessary.
Enable screen recording permissions in macOS for Echo360 capture

Learn more about allowing access to inputs in macOS.

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More FAQs