Category Archives: Blackboard Assessments

LockDown Browser Issue

9.24.2014 | Updates on Respondus LockDown Browser Issues

Very recently we updated some settings for one of our building blocks, Respondus LockDown Browser. We reported issues with test taking to the vendor and they provided us with the necessary updates to their product. With those updates in place, students will no longer get the “session error” message. Because of those updates, it is important that you look at your settings in your own courses, if you require that quizzes be taken with LDB. It just takes seconds, plus it’s a good reminder to look at the actual tool now and then.

As the screenshot (below) displays, there are some quizzes listed with “Not Required” or “Required.” One quiz, in the example, has a red error message with “Fix It.”  Once the Fix It button is clicked, just choose Modify Settings and then require that the quiz be taken in LDB. Normally that Fix It error messages results from a change to the quiz name or a settings change in the Test Options. In this case, it is because we updated the building block.

screenshot

 

We thank you for your patience while we worked to solve the “session error” message in LockDown Browser.

____________________

Student sees one question at a time. Issue has been fixed.

Student sees message, “Session error.” Very sporadic, does not affect submission. Continue to click through. We are still working on this; not everyone gets the error; again, does not affect answering questions or submitting exam.

Instructor should double check for the “Fix It” error message in the tool before releasing the exam. Remember, the scrambled password in test options should not be removed; think of it as an “invisible” password, invisible to you and students. If exam settings were changed, you may see a “Fix It” error. To check, go to Control Panel, Course Tools, Respondus LockDown Browser, and if you see “Fix It” next to any exams, click Fix It and that’s it.

9.4.2014| Respondus LockDown Browser Issues on personal computers (please note – these solutions are for PC users only)

Issue: Student reports, “I can only see one question.”  Issue has been fixed, noted above.

Solution:  Compatibility settings in IE can be problematic with students who only see one question on a quiz. We do not recommend Internet Explorer for Blackboard, but LockDown Browser has many of the same settings as Internet Explorer. So, in this case, we tell students to do this if they can only see one question or do not see a submit button – they will have to save any questions, and back out of LDB, even if means a force shutdown.

Then, in this order:

1. Open up Internet Explorer. Go to Tools > Internet Options > General tab > Browsing History: Delete.

2. Tools > Internet Options > Advanced tab > Reset.

3. Tools > Compatibility View Settings > disable/UNCHECK all settings enabled during reset. Screenshot below.

Note: If the student has an old version of IE, i.e. IE7, they should update IE to 9, or preferably 10 or 11 and then recheck those compatibility view settings.)

We’ll do further troubleshooting if necessary! If this happened in a computer lab on campus, let us know and provide the name of the lab. Submit a Help Ticket @ https://ithelp.ecu.edu/ or  email us: ecublackboard@ecu.edu

Reminder: the link to provide students to install or re-install LDB: Download here

IE screenshot

compatibility view settings in IE

 

 

Issue: “Link is Blocked” Error Message

This occurs when there is a second level link (as in a PDF attachment) being accessed from a primary level link. However, link blocking usually does not occur until the student enters a quiz and starts accessing links within a quiz. Usually, this comes from configuration issues with the underlying Internet Explorer browser components.

Solution: To resolve this issue, please try the following after leaving the LDB environment:

  • Start Internet Explorer and first go to Tools.
  • From the Tools menu, select Internet Options.
  • Inside the Internet Options dialog box under the General select Browsing History.
  • Hit Delete to clear the browser cache and related areas.
  • Finally, if you are running any third-party toolbars or add-ons, remove them from Internet Explorer.

 

 

 

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.

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 (longm@ecu.edu), Cindy Bowers (bowersc@ecu.edu), or Allen Dennis (dennisa@ecu.edu).  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.
longm@ecu.edu / 328-9074
bowersc@ecu.edu / 328-9167
dennisa@ecu.edu / 328-2841

Fall 2013 Kickoff Information

Hello Everyone -

Welcome back from the summer break!  Below you will find all of the different tutorials to make the start of your Fall 2013 a smashing success.  Good luck and please let us know if we help you with your Blackboard needs.