Yearly Archives: 2013

Sample Blackboard Quiz Available for Use

For your use – a generic sample 5-question quiz

  • If you are interested in adding a short quiz to your Blackboard course at the beginning of the semester to determine if students can successfully take an exam in Blackboard, we have created a 5-question generic quiz. You can use the quiz “as is,” or you can edit the questions.
    • Send an email with the full Course ID to Cindy, Matt, or Allen and we’ll gladly add that quiz to your course. Once you determine if the questions are satisfactory for your purposes, then deploy/add the quiz to the appropriate content area in your course.
  • If you use LockDown Browser to give quizzes and would like a sample quiz, please follow the instructions above. (If you are unfamiliar with LockDown Browser, please see below.)

As a reminder, we offer training in Blackboard, plus we have many instructional materials for the tools and features in Blackboard.

Safe Assignment Tool

To ECU Faculty who use SafeAssign in Blackboard –

On April 8th some Blackboard customers submitted helpdesk tickets stating  that the Safe Assignment tool was slow to check student submissions.  I have done some local testing today (April 9th) and the tool seems to be working normally with speedy file checks.  Keep in mind that Safe Assignment  is a Blackboard hosted and managed tool so if submission checks do slow down we need to contact the vendor to see what can be done to fix this problem.   At times in the past Safe Assignment has slowed down during midterm and finals because of the amount of files being submitted and checked by all of Bb customers.  In recent semesters this has not been an issue.

Note: Once or twice during the semester, please check if you need to Synchronize SafeAssignment. It’s very quick: Control Panel > Course Tools > SafeAssign > SafeAssignments > if you see a yellow bar to the right of your screen that says Synchronize this Course, please do so. It simply synchronizes the papers in the course with the SafeAssign central database, ensuring the correct associations exist between the course and the central database. This is especially pertinent to courses that have been copied from semester to semester. SafeAssign is a building block added to Blackboard.

If you do notice any slowness this semester, please contact the ECU  helpdesk ASAP at or call 252-328-9866 .

Safe Assignment Links:


Blackboard Course Purge from 2009,2010,2011

Every year we purge old Blackboard courses. We do so to stay within our storage goals and business policy of keeping only two years of Blackboard sites in our production system.  In a few short weeks, we will be purging the following courses (all of them) unless you submit a request to have your courses saved.

>>>>>The purge date is  March 18th, 2013  <<<<<

  • 2009 Fall semester
  • 2010 Spring semester 
  • 2010 Summer #1 semester
  • 2010 Summer #2 semester
  • 2010 Full Term Summer semester
  • 2010 Fall semester
  • 2011 Spring semester

You have 2 choices for saving your course site.

1 – Request us to save your Bb sites in Blackboard. If you choose this option you will need to list all FULL COURSE ID’s in your request submission. Here is the link to submission site

2 – Export or Archive your Bb courses offline.  This is a suggested best practices for all used Blackboard courses at the end of every semester. Make sure you save all exported or archived sites on your ECU Piratedrive.

If you’d like to export or archive your own courses, it is easy.

Export: Only course content
Archive: All course content, student interactions and gradebook data

In both an export or an archive you will be saving a .zip offline for your records. Please save these files in a secure location like Piratedrive.

  1. Go to the Control Panel in your Blackboard course, click Properties and Utilities.
  2. Click Archive course.
  3. Include Grade Center History if you want to save student work.
  4. Click Submit.
  5. Wait for an email confirming the archive process.
  6. Once you receive the email, go back to Export/Archive Course under the Control Panel. Click to download to a secure location (e.g., Pirate Drive).

Please download the one-page PDF, How to Archive Your Course for further details, including FERPA and HIPAA regulations regarding privacy. Note: The .zip file is only useful once uploaded to the Blackboard environment.

Questions? Contact Matt, Cindy, or Allen or or

Blackboard Support Email:

Blackboard Planned downtime 2/13/03 6:00am-6:15am

Downtime: Blackboard, Piratedrive and Medical Images through Centricity
: Wednesday, February 13  /  6:00am – 6:15am


The following systems will be unavailable on Wednesday morning from 6:00am till 6:15am while we perform necessary maintenance:

-Medical Images through Centricity

To check the authenticity of this e-mail:

Visit, and click on the “Help Desk” link under the “MyLinks” section on the right-hand side. This will take you to the ECU IT Help Desk page where you can review our “Announcements” section.

Need Help?
If you experience any difficulties in relation to this announcement or have any questions, please contact the ECU IT Help Desk by phone at 252-328-9866 or via the Web at

ITCS Notifications:

Computing Systems Maintenance Schedule
Please keep in mind that regular maintenance on all computing systems is performed on Sundays between the hours of 5:00 am – 12:00 pm. If there are other times that systems will be down, notification will be sent through ITCS Notifications.

Illegally downloading music, movies, and other copyrighted material via file-sharing programs can cost you your network access. You may even be subject to civil and criminal penalties. Anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense.

University employees who violate university computer-use policies will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. Student violations are misconduct under the applicable student disciplinary code. Sanctions may include revocation of access privileges in addition to other sanctions available under the regular disciplinary procedures. Visit for more information.

Follow ECU’s Student Code of Conduct, computing-use policies, copyright policies, and federal copyright laws. University Attorney Statement on Copyright:


Assessment Creation Best Practices and Information

Hello Everyone –

Below you will see a list of tutorials and best practices for both building and taking Blackboard exams.  If you ever experience any issues with students taking your Blackboard exams please report these problems asap to either Matt Long (, Cindy Bowers (, or Allen Dennis (  When reporting these issues please include the following:

  • Course ID
  • Test location and name
  • Student email ID
  • Symptoms (behavior/details, browser, PC or Mac)
If we cannot figure out the exact reason of your exam failure we will report this issue to Blackboard for more investigation and troubleshooting.

Keep in mind exam failures can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as wireless network, local computer problems, third party software running in the background, exam content (rare but does happen sometimes), and/or exam settings (see below for more information).

Test Creation Information and Best Practices

  • Assignment Tool (creates link for students) – download the PDF
  • Creating and Deploying Tests – download the PDF
  • Creating a Test From a Pool – download the PDF
  • Test-Taking Troubleshooting Tips for Instructors – download the PDF
  • Test-Taking Tips for Students – Share with Students — download the PDF
  • Respondus LockDown Browser – read the blog post for information
  • Rubrics with Assessments – download the PDF

Browser Info: Reminder: Blackboard works best using Firefox as the browser (for Macs also); please remind your students. The gradebook is especially noticeable (slow, not working properly) if you are using IE instead of Firefox. See Blackboard’s recommended browsers.

Blackboard Test/Exam Failure Avoidance: Best Practices

The suggestions below come directly from Blackboard technical support. Exams with a high rate of failure may have some of the following characteristics:

  • Avoid creating large exams involving many and/or complex questions and presented all at once.
    • 50 questions is a lot of questions.  SOLUTION – break up larger exams into smaller exams taken in a sequence vs. one large exam.
    • Large exams also create much more server load when submitting the final exam, which can lead to failures due to application overload when groups of users submit at the same time. SOLUTION – Stagger exam submission times when possible.
  • Train users to save their attempt every 10-15 minutes (but avoid too-frequent saves, which may overload the application). SOLUTION – train student to use the “SAVE ALL” option during an exam every 5-7 minutes if they are in the middle of working on a problem.
  • *Avoid randomized display order for exams using question-by-question (one at a time) display. SOLUTION – None.  Only use this feature if you believe it is needed for the test being given.
  • *When using random selection of questions from pools, keep the overall exam especially short. SOLUTION – None. Only use this feature if you believe it is needed for the exam being given.
*Regarding pools and randomizing questions:  If you are using a Random Block of questions for a given exam be sure NOT to use the “Randomize Display” option.  This is not helpful and definitely puts unwanted strain on the Blackboard assessment engine.
In summary, the above suggestions are a best-practices roadmap to making better and more reliable exams.  All of these features have been used by hundreds of ECU faculty for many years. With confidence, we can say that the large majority of Blackboard exams are submitted/completed without incident. The suggestions listed will be most helpful for those that are having consistent issues with student test completions.


As always, if you have any questions please call or email Matt Long, Cindy Bowers, or Allen Dennis. / 328-9074 / 328-9167 / 328-2841