Firefox 23 Mixed Content Blocking

Bulletin/Advisory Information: Mozilla introduced Mixed Content Blocking in the latest version of Firefox (23).  Intended as a security response to “man in the middle” attacks, this feature blocks mixed content by default unless  specifically allowed during each page visit.  This specifically impacts non-https content loaded into a https page.  For more information about this security feature, please visit following Mozilla support article:

https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-does-content-isnt-secure-affect-my-safety?as=u&utm_source=inproduct

While other browsers like Chrome and Internet Explorer implement Mixed Content Blocking in similar fashions, in most cases they allow the user to add exceptions or permanently allow access to mixed content from a particular page.  Firefox 23 requires this content to be allowed on each page visit without a method to permanently allow content within that page only.

In Bb , content “link” types load within an Bb frame (even when set to open in a new window).  Bb  does this purposely so that when user tracking is enabled, it is possible to run activity reports on which students access those links, as opposed to a straight href external link where Bb cannot track any of that.  Therefore, Bb customers using SSL and linking to non-SSL content will see this manifested most often in blank frames with the “grey shield” icon represented in the browser’s address bar as described in the Mozilla post, although this could impact other application areas as well.

The solution if you are linking to non SSL content from within Bb is to add the link and ask Bb to “open in a new window”.

Course Copy Slowness

Update: Blackboard Course Copy delays
When: Friday, Aug 23rd / 3:30pm

As reported yesterday, the course copy process in Blackboard is still experiencing a long delay between submission and completion.  Our Blackboard administrators are working diligently with the company to resolve this issue, but currently the lag time is approximately 9 hours.

If you have already gone through the content copy process and are still waiting for the content to show up please just check your email inbox.  Blackboard automatically sends an email out once a course copy is complete.

The confirmation email will contain the following message:

  • The following Course Copy process has completed: Source XXXXXXXXXX  | Destination XXXXXXXXXXX
  • The results of the process are shown below.
  • Operation successful.

Taste of Technology

We want to get the word out on some of the training sessions we have available, so we’re offering a “Taste of Technology” hour-long session consisting of three 15-minute summaries of tools and features and 15 minutes of Q&A. We will come to your department or college for a small or large group session! You choose which three topics you want covered, e.g. Blackboard topics, web conferencing, lecture capture, clickers, test creation solutions/integrations with Blackboard.

Please see the Taste of Technology Flyer PDF!

SafeAssign Hints

For those instructors who use SafeAssign, the following two things might be helpful.

  • At the beginning of each semester, If you do course copies from one semester to the next, please perform a quick synchronization of your course to the SafeAssign global database: Control Panel > Course Tools > SafeAssign > SafeAssignments > click the yellow button “Synchronize this course.” See the screenshot below.
  • If any of your students have an issue submitting a paper to your SafeAssign link, ask them to try again using Firefox as their browser. If that does not work, please have them submit a help ticket and we’ll do some troubleshooting.

screenshot_synchronize

 

Questions? Send an email to:

Matt Long, Cindy Bowers, or Allen Dennis

Blackboard Assessments – Auto Submit Feature

As you all know, Blackboard has an “auto submit” feature available to choose on any Bb assessment/exam.  Any test will save and submit the users work automatically when the time expires – if this feature is enabled.

It has come to our attention through a vendor support ticket that this feature SHOULD NOT be used in conjunction with the “force completion” exam option.  You should use one or the other but not both.  In some cases, using these tools together causes exams to not submit normally to the gradebook.  Secondly, it’s normal that the Auto Submit timer vs the actual exam window be a little different.  Bb has stated that a 5 minute buffer is added to this tool.

For example, if an exam is available from 1pm – 2pm in the gradebook you may see Auto Submits as late at 2:05pm.

If you have any questions please let us know.

Matt Long / longm@ecu.edu
Cindy Bowers / bowersc@ecu.edu
Allen Dennis / dennisa@ecu.edu

Email Notification Issue in Bb 5/26-28

A Blackboard email issue was identified and resolved on 5/28/13. If you sent an email(s) from your Blackboard course between 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 26, and 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 28, the emails were not sent. You will need to resend any email messages that were sent during this timeframe. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Course Copy Process

With the recent upgrade from Service Pack 7 to 9, one of the new features pertaining to the Course Copy process is a message to instructors, letting you know that the copy process is in the works or “waiting.” Please see the screenshot below. This is normal, and you will see this message before you get the email saying the course copy process is complete. At the beginning of the semester when many instructors are building their courses and doing course copies at the same time, expect a delay. Importantly, do not repeat the copy process or you will duplicate content and that will require cleanup to delete redundant content items. Log out/log in or refresh your course now and then to watch for the content to appear. Or, wait until you receive the email telling you the copy process is complete.

screenshot_coursecopymessage

 

The Course Copy tool is available under the Control Panel in Blackboard. Go into your source (or past) course to Packages and Utilities > Course Copy. From there, you will choose your destination (or current) course and be able to choose all of the content areas and tools to be included in the copy. (Do not include Enrollments at the bottom of the page – those are enrollments from the past course.)

Do you need instructions for doing your own course copy and /or section merge? Video or PDF instructions 

Questions? Please contact: Matt Long longm@ecu.edu, Cindy Bowers bowersc@ecu.edu, or Allen Dennis dennisa@ecu.edu

Blackboard Upgrade

Hello ECU Faculty, Staff and Students – [Blackboard is back up as of 5/13/2013, 4 pm]

You have been redirected to this page because ECU’s Blackboard system is currently down for a small upgrade.  The planned downtime window is from 5/11/13 (12:30pm) through 5/13/13 (5pm).  During this downtime anyone who attempts to access https://blackboard.ecu.edu will be re directed to this blog post.

The upgrade will be a minor one for faculty and students.  To learn about the new features that you will see after the upgrade is complete  please visit this blog post. 

If you have any questions at all regarding the downtime feel free to email longm@ecu.edu .  If you have any general Bb questions or other questions I would encourage you to enter a helpdesk ticket at https://ecu.edu/9866

Summary Information

  • Blackboard will be down from 5/11 (12:30pm) – 5/13 (5pm)
  • New Service Pack 9 features are HERE
  • Questions or concerns about the upgrade?  Email longm@ecu.edu

 

- Blackboard Support Team

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 https://ecu.edu/9866 or call 252-328-9866 .

Safe Assignment Links: