Starting in September 2013, we have been hearing about some students having trouble uploading files using the SafeAssignment feature on Blackboard. We're not sure what is causing that problem, but here is some more information and some suggestions to try.
How it's Supposed to Work
SafeAssignment links look like this, with a green check mark icon:
After clicking the "View/Complete" link, students click the "Browse" button on the next page to choose a file, then click the "Submit" button to send the file. At this point, students should see a page saying that the file uploaded successfully. However, some students are experiencing a long lag while uploading, and the page never appears saying that it uploaded.
Suggestions for Students
Even with this error, at least some of the time, the file has been uploaded successfully and the instructor can see the assignment as if nothing went wrong. Students can check to see if their file was uploaded by going to "My Grades" and looking for the green "Needs Grading" icon - this means the submission was successful. For non-SafeAssign assignments, students can also click that green icon and on the next page, they can see the name of the attached file:
Even if you can't click on the green icon, its presence there shows that something was submitted.
In addition, there are some standard practices for submitting a file on Blackboard. Here's what to do if your first attempt doesn't work:
Suggestions for Instructors
Sometimes no students can upload files because you've forgotten to make the link available, or because you copied the link from a different course and forgot to do this extra step. If only some students are having trouble uploading assignments, but others were successful in uploading a file, then there is nothing wrong with your link. (It's all or nothing - either you have set things up incorrectly and no students can upload a file, or you have set it up correctly and some student can upload, but others are having trouble for an unrelated reason.)
To avoid this specific problem, you could remove the SafeAssignment link and instead use a regular assignment link. See Creating Assignments. You can later download the assignment files and check them with the Safe Assign system using DirectSubmit. See Using Direct Submit.
Also, if a specific student says they were unable to upload a file, first check to see if you have access to the file (through Grade Center, see Grading Assignments) since the file may have uploaded successfully. If you don't see a submission from that student, as them to try resubmit using some of the suggestions on this page.
We've noticed a problem with the latest version of Google Chrome not displaying embedded videos on Blackboard. This affects Windows 7 only, not Mac.
Quick Solution: Use a different browser (we recommend Firefox)
Blackboard uses the secure HTTPS protocol, but our online videos are posted on a server that uses the normal HTTP protocol. The Chrome browser apparently notices the difference and used to ask whether you wanted to load that "unsecure" content (see Trouble Playing Videos, below). But with the latest update to Chrome, it appears as though Chrome just silently refuses to show that content.
For now, the easiest solution is just to use a different browser. And hopefully, this issue will be resolved either by an update to the Chrome browser or by Biola updating the server that holds all the videos to allow HTTPS connections.
A Solution for Chrome
It's possible to start up the Google Chrome browser in such a way that it does not perform that check. Thanks to the Digital Inspiration blog for posting a description of this solution:
That blog posts describes the issue in more detail, but in summary you can allow Chrome to run "insecure content" by following these instructions: Right-click the Google Chrome icon on your desktop, or find the Chrome icon in Windows Start Menu and right-click on it. From the right-click menu, choose Properties and in the window that appears, in the "Shortcut" tab, find the Target box, and add the text " --allow-running-insecure-content" (that's a space and two minus signs before the letter A, don't include the quotes) on the end after the chrome.exe. Then quit Chrome and start it up again with the icon you just edited.
When you go to a page on Blackboard that has online videos embedded, your browser might say something like this:
If you see that message, click "Load Anyway."
That "insecure content" message just means that the video content is on a server that doesn't require a password (like YouTube, or Biola's video server), but it's okay to click "Load Anyway." This message will be different for different browsers. (The image above is an example from Google Chrome.)
If you've already clicked "Don't Load," you may need to log out of Blackboard and quit the browser and try again. You could also try using a different browser than what you were using (like Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Safari).
There's an occasional problem with the Grade Center with an easy solution. The problem comes from Blackboard somehow labeling two grade columns with the same ID value. The error message depends on the browser, but may look like this:
The solution is easy. Using Firefox, follow these steps:
Note: Clicking "Column Organization" won't work unless you are using Firefox. (In other browsers, you can right-click and copy the link in "Column Organization" and paste it into the address bar. But use Firefox, it's easier.)
This problem affects Macintosh only:
Recent changes in Blackboard are causing an error when you attempt to open up a PDF within a "frame," which is what Blackboard uses. A work-around solution is to change your browser settings to download the document rather than display it, or to use the Chrome browser. The issue appears in most browsers, including Safari 5.1 and Firefox 4, 5, and 6. Blackboard has acknowledged the issue and chalks it up to browser compatibility with a fix coming in the near future.
PDF documents no longer display within the Blackboard frame. They can be opened just like Microsoft Office documents, however, as long as the browser is set up to download the document first. There are two steps you may need to take, depending on whether you are the instructor or the student.
If you are the instructor, you can help students get around this problem by doing this:
If you are the student, you might be able get around the problem by changing your browser settings:
But if that doesn't work you may need to try using a different PDF reader:
Solution 1: The Google Chrome browser is currently unaffected by this issue and loads PDFs as expected. Mac users with this problem may choose to install Chrome from http://www.google.com/chrome for use with Blackboard as a temporary fix.
Solution 2: You can install a different PDF Plug-in (other than the Mac OSX default and the Adobe PDF plug in) that seems to work with most browsers. You can obtain this plugin from this site: http://www.schubert-it.com/pluginpdf/. Install the plugin on your computer and test with PDFs in Blackboard.
According to another Blackboard customer at another school: "Blackboard is apperently working on the issue and may need a patch or updated version of building block may be needed. It is said to be a high priority since there was a change with the ATI and it applys to all versions of Bb cause of the change google made. FYI."
It's happening for all schools on all versions of Blackboard. Which means it's high priority, and will probably get fixed soon. For now, just copy a link to the YouTube video and make a link. It won't look quite as nice as an embedded video, but it will work.
There is a known bug in Blackboard that prevents students from getting feedback on assignments they submitted through a SafeAssign Assignment from the "My Grades" view. Students can see their grade (or the little green symbol meaning it's not graded yet), but when they click on the grade or the symbol, they get a HTTP Status 500 error:
Workaround: tell students they can get your feedback by clicking on the original assignment, then on the "View/Complete" link for that assignment. Here's a suggested announcement:
This only affects assignments that use SafeAssign Assignments - students can still see their grade, but if instructors have attached a document in response, students can't see that document through the "My Grades" link, but only through the "View/Complete" link. Here's a link to discussion about this error on Blackboard's site: http://discussions.blackboard.com/forums/t/48779.aspx
To see a list of problems in the Blackboard system, see the official "Known Issues" list here:
There is a major bug in Blackboard that causes the loss of images in Content Items when you edit the Content Item. But it only happens when you edit old Content Items that were created before June 1, 2010. Anything created after June 1, 2010 will be fine.
When might this happen? If you have a Content Item with an image embedded along with the text, and if that item was created before June 1, 2010, then the image will disappear when you edit that item. This might happen if you were editing old Spring 2010 classes. Or if you copied content from Spring 2010 to a Fall 2010 class then edited it.
Solution: The only solution is to re-insert the image when you edit that Content Item. If you don't have the picture on your computer, save it from Blackboard before editing that Content Item. Do this by right-clicking on the picture then choosing "Save Image as..."
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