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

Technology Survey Results from Fall 2012

Regarding our technology survey from September 2012,  we appreciate the instructors who took the time to respond to the two questions: (1) Are there any tools or features that you would like to see integrated with Black board, ECU’s Learning Management System? What additional support resources can we provide? (2) Please share any additional thoughts on how we can improve and enhance your overall Blackboard experience.

We value your comments, ideas, and suggestions and they are often the catalyst for our research of new technology products. The survey responses from faculty included many comments and questions about specific tools, features, and functionalities within Blackboard. It would be too lengthy to include a suggestion, solution, or comment to each response; however, since there were commonalities among the responses, we’ll mention a few areas, plus provide some resources where you will find instructions, and/or examples.

Blackboard’s Discussion Board

Some common questions about the discussion board included email notification, viewing all posts, and grading. When a discussion forum is created, there is a setting to “allow subscriptions.” If that box is checked, the instructor (and all users) will receive an email when a thread/post is added. Switching between list view and tree view provides a different look, as does choosing “Collect” to view specific forums and posts, plus print them (when desired). Regarding switching back and forth between the discussion board and the grade center, the most efficient solution is to add points to the discussion forum. Once points are added, instructors can grade all posts right from the Discussion Board. If you did not set it up that way, you can still “edit” the discussion forum and add points.

Blackboard’s Grade Center

The Grade Center, although not a Microsoft Excel product, is a rich tool with spreadsheet capabilities. Weighting grades at the beginning of the semester is a timesaver, thanks to categories that can be linked with assessments. That way, no matter how many assignments you add, as long as they are associated with a category already added to the weighted column, they are factored into the user’s weighted grade. We have a user-friendly instructional PDF on weighting grades on our Blackboard blog. Also on our blog, is a PDF on grade book housekeeping that is good to refer to when a total column does not add up, points or grade weighting looks “off,” or you can’t find a column that a student sees.

Creating a “My Grades” menu item gives students an alternate way to navigate to their grade center. It is a tool, so it can also be accessed through Course Tools. The grade center can be downloaded to Excel using the “Work Offline” button; however, please be cognizant of student data on your work or home computer. We have FERPA guidelines on our Blackboard blog. After you download your grade book to Excel and do some work, you can also upload that file back into the Bb grade book.

By adding gradable items (assignments, interactive tools), and assigning points to each item, a column is auto-created in the grade book. No need to manually create columns unless you are giving paper assignments or quizzes, or adding a column for participation, for example.

Blackboard’s Interface and General Functions

Blackboard’s interface allows users to format content from a rich WYSIWYG text box, e.g., font choices, sizes, colors, hyperlinks, images, lists, to name a few. The formatting text box is available for announcements, instructions, addition of content, etc. A user-friendly function is to create menu items/content areas from the front page, directly pointing to content and/or assessment areas, reducing the number of clicks. Course design/organization is discussed in our Blackboard Overview sessions.

Blackboard’s Integration with Turning Point

Audience response systems, or clickers, offer an option for student engagement and active learning. Clickers are designed to actively engage students, gauge students’ level of understanding of the material presented, and provide prompt feedback. Student responses are anonymous to other students. TurningPoint AnyWhere is for instructors who want to create instant polling questions from content on web pages, PDFs, Microsoft Office products, whiteboards, and more. For instructors who want to create and save quizzes and create interactive presentations in a PowerPoint format for current and future classes, they will use TurningPoint software. Once students have purchased and registered their TurningPoint clickers, instructors with TurningPoint software can easily upload grades from polled responses into their Blackboard courses.Both TurningPoint and TurningPoint AnyWhere downloads are free and compatible with PC or Mac. TurningTechnologies has an array of resources and videos to help decide which software is appropriate for different needs in higher education. Go to or see the list of resources below.

 Blackboard’s Integration with Joyner Library

ITCS and Joyner library are currently working collaboratively on both faculty and staff Blackboard modules.  These modules will highlight faculty and student support information and other timely information. Please see our list of resources below for more information.

Collaborate for Web Conferencing

In the fall of 2012, ITCS began to pilot a platform named Collaborate, which is a Blackboard building block.  Collaborate is a web-conferencing tool that directly integrates within the Blackboard interface.  Like Centra, Collaborate offers live video, chat, application sharing and playback of any recorded event. The pilot will continue in the spring of 2013 and slots are available along with group training sessions. If you are interested in learning more about this platform feel free to contact John Southworth, or see the resource list below.


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.

Bb Planned Downtime – 12/19 – 12/20

Blackboard downtime on December 19-20, 2012
When: Wed, Dec 19, 8:00am-Thurs, Dec 20th, 5:00pm

**Those enrolled in CPE courses that must be completed by December 31st, will be able to log back into Blackboard no later than 5:00 p.m. on the 20th

Blackboard will be unavailable on Dec. 19th and 20th  while we perform upgrades to the system.  If you have any questions please call 252-328-9866 (ECU Helpdesk).

Bb planned downtime. 11/18 7am-11am

Blackboard downtime on Sunday morning
Posted 11-14-2012

System/Service:  Blackboard

When:  Sunday, Nov 18 / 7:00am-11:00am

Description:  Blackboard will be unavailable from 7:00am-11:00am on Sunday morning while we update the system during our normal maintenance window.

Please call 252-328-9866 if you have any questions.

Course Copy and/or Collapse for Spring ’13 Courses

In anticipation of Spring 2013, you may want to copy your Fall course content into your Spring course shell. Or you might want a course merge (also known as collapse). Go to our Course Copy-Section Merge web page to learn how to copy content yourself, merge multiple sections, or submit a request. For instructions, you can watch a mini-video or view a PDF – your choice. It’s quite easy to do your own course copy from one semester to the next and you decide what should be copied.

Things to remember about course copy and course merge:

  • By doing your own course copy, you decide what should be copied. The actual process of you going through through the steps takes 1-2 minutes at the most.
  • When you do your own course copy, remember that depending on the amount of content in your course or the Bb “traffic” (1-2 weeks before the semester when many instructors are doing the course copy process at the same time, your content might take longer to show up. Normally it is 15 minutes or less. It is important that you do not get impatient and repeat the process, or your content will duplicate and you’ll have lots of cleanup to do. Watch for a COURSE COPY RECEIPT in your email inbox after you click Submit. Do not panic if it is not instant; the content will show up.
  • If you want a section merge AND course copy, which comes first? The section merge, then do your course copy.
  • If you do a section merge of two sections (e.g., 001 and 601), your student enrollments for each section will merge into your “parent” section.

Questions? Matt Long, 328-9074 OR Cindy Bowers, 328-9167

Subject: Internet outage on Sunday morning 11/4/2012 7-11am

Subject: Internet outage on Sunday morning
  Sunday, November 4th, 7:00am-11:00am

There will be a short internet outage for ECU on Sunday morning, November 4th, while we upgrade the network firewalls during our normal maintenance window.  The outage will last about 30 minutes, and will occur sometime between 7:00am and 11:00am.

During the outage ECU users will be affected in the following ways:

- On-campus users will not be able to access the internet (but will be able to access ECU’s network and ECU resources like Onestop, Blackboard and the ECU website) during the outage.

- Off-campus users will not be able to access ECU’s resources such as Onestop, Blackboard or ECU’s website during the outage.  VPN access will allow users to connect to ECU resources (but not connect back out to the internet).

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.

Student emails bouncing back


ECU Faculty -
We have had  reports from a few faculty  that emails sent from within Blackboard are bouncing back to the sender (faculty member) as undelivered. This does not appear to be a widespread issue. We have determined that this is not a Bb related issue but something related to our email system.  We are currently working  with out vendor (Microsoft) to fix this error.   Once we have solved this issue  this blog post will be updated.  Here is an example of how the error is presenting itself.

1- In blackboard you attempt to send an email to ” All Users” in the Bb email client.  –> tools/email/
2 – Moments after sending out the email it bounces with an error similiar to what you see below.  If this happens to you please report this to or asap.

Error Example

On 9/19/12 2:08 PM, “Mail Delivery Subsystem”

<> wrote:

 >The original message was received at Wed, 19 Sep 2012 14:08:24 -0400

>(EDT) from [

>   —– The following addresses had permanent fatal errors —–


 Current Workarounds

1 – In Blackboard.  Control panel / Tools / Email / Select User. Select the user in question and send the email to this person individually.

2 -If you get an email bounced back to you please simply send that course update to the student in question using  OUTLOOK.  Another option is to add all email information into individual Announcements. That way, all students will be able to see your updates in the Announcement area versus though the normal email channel.