Blackboard Hacks

Blackboard is a powerful Learning Management System (LMS) with many features and tools. This Top 10 list highlights a few of the tools beneficial for creating eye-pleasing content, helping faculty effectively manage their courses, and ensuring a smooth-running learning experience start to finish!

1. Make Wonky Formatting Disappear!

Adjust font sizes and shapes or remove the white outline Blackboard places around copied and pasted text with the click of one button. Simply highlight the desired text and click the Clear Formatting tool iconClear Formatting tool found in the Content Editor menu.
screen capture of the Content Editor menu highlighting the clear formatting tool

Note: Bullets and numerical listings are removed but can quickly be restored. Hyperlinks will remain intact.

2. Student Preview Mode

Whether intended or not, sometimes course content is hidden from student view. Using the Student Preview Mode, instructors can verify what students can and cannot see as they navigate the course. Click on the eye icon in the upper right corner of the course shell to switch to Student Preview mode to view the course from a student’s perspective. 

screen capture of student preview mode

3. Use Qwickly

With Qwickly, faculty can complete multiple Blackboard tasks with one action. Make course shells available, send an email to students, or post the same announcement message to multiple course sections in one step. Qwickly can be found on the Blackboard home page.

screen capture of Qwickly

4. How Students View Assessment Feedback After A Specified Date.

Providing feedback on an exam or quiz helps students gauge their learning; however, instructors may wish to provide this information after everyone has completed the exam. Assessment feedback can be timed to “release” after a specific point in time. Instructors can guide students to access feedback through My Grades by clicking on the score they earned on the assessment.

Screen Capture of Assessment Details

5. Date Management (Bonus Hack – Using the Course Calendar!)

Finding and changing due dates and/or availability dates for each assignment and assessment can be a tedious undertaking each time the course runs. Once dates have been entered into assignment and assessment configurations, they can be easily updated the next time the course is taught by using the Date Management Feature found within Course Tools. Within a single screen, all entered due dates and availability dates are presented and can be adjusted to match new course dates.

Bonus Hack! Once due dates are entered, instructors can then make use of Blackboard’s Course Calendar feature found within Tools to navigate, create, edit, or delete events.

6. Link Checker Feature

Similar to the Date Management feature, using Link Checker found under Course Tools prompts Blackboard to review the course for valid and invalid URLs and presents findings on a single screen for further action. 

Note: Only URLs built as a Web Link are reviewed. URLs and hyperlinks built within a content item are not reviewed by the Link Checker feature. 

Screen capture of Link Checker

7. Groups Tool

Rather than form groups outside of Blackboard, the Groups Tool, located within Tools, easily creates small learning communities to collaborate on projects and provides a centralized location for students to find their group assignment and teammates. Students can self-enroll or be enrolled in a group by the instructor. Once groups are formed, assignments can be identified as a group submission so that, once graded, the score populates to the grade center for each group member, which reduces grading time.

8. Assessment Analysis

Running an Item Analysis on a completed exam provides statistics on overall test performance, identifies average completion time, and can inform which questions may be problematic and in need of adjustment.

9. Want to Make Grading Faster and Efficient? Add a Rubric!

Building a rubric inside your course shell and attaching it to an assignment not only provides students with clear, concise grading requirements, rubrics also reduce the time investment needed to complete grading for the instructor. With the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Support’s Rubric Repository, a rubric can be imported into a course and then tailored to reflect the assignment’s criteria.

10. Exceeding the Quota Limit - Unable to Add Files & Documents to Course

A “quota exceeded” error received while trying to upload files to a Blackboard course shell is an indication that the addition of these files is exceeding the allotted 500 MB quota each course has. Use these Quota Tips & Tricks to check the course capacity and perform a little housekeeping in the files area to free up additional space.