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By Irina Berman, Instructional Technology Specialist
Welcome to “Instructional Technology Tips,” where we bring you useful information about the technology here at Touro and effective ways to use this technology in your online courses. Please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 212-463- 0400 x5467 to let us know what you think or to send us topic ideas for future technology tips.
Tip 1: File Naming & Blackboard
Problems with file naming and Blackboard Gradebook
In order to avoid errors when downloading or grading files in Blackboard, please follow (and encourage your students to follow) these guidelines:
1. Use only letters, numbers and underscores (_) in file names.
2. Don’t use spaces, commas, pound signs (#), question marks, equal signs, dashes or any other special characters in your file names.
3. File names should be 60 characters or less in length
File Attachment Names
1. If you use a special character to name a file attachment, you will get an error when you try to open the file. This is NOT the name of Blackboard item or folder, but the name of the actual file uploaded (assignment#1.doc, for example).
2. When you try to open the improperly named item, you will receive an “HTTP , Error 404, Files not found” error. The problem applies to files uploaded or attached by both instructors and students.
3. There are two ways to address this problem:
a)The student could rename the file without the special character(s) or space(s) and resubmit it.
b) Another option is to rename the item in the Gradebook by clicking on the Gradebook Views link in Control Panel. Once the item is renamed, instructors will be able to access the file originally submitted by the student.
Assignments & SafeAssign Assignments
1. If you use special characters to name your assignment created with Assignment Tool or SafeAssign (Assignment #1, for example), you won’t be able to download all the student files at once.
2. The error will prevent you from downloading student assignments in a .zip file, though you’ll still be able to grade the assignments one at a time. Modifying the name of the assignment does not fix the issue. You will need to download each assignment separately.
Tip 2: Use Link Checker tool
What is the Blackboard link checker?
Blackboard contains a link checker tool, which automatically checks any links you have included in your course, to ensure that they are correctly formed, and the links are still active.
The link checker only checks links that have been added using the Add External link tool on the Add toolbar. Links added through the Insert Link button in the WYSISYG editor or through the HTML editor are not checked by the Link checker!
Using Blackboard Link Checker
To use the link checker:
1. Open the Control Panel
2. Click on Link Checker in the Course Tools section
3. The link Checker will open
The title of the link, the link, its location and availability will be displayed. If the link is valid, a green tick will appear next to it. If it is incorrect, a red cross will appear.
You also have the option to hide a link, for example if it is incorrect or no longer needed. This will not remove it, just hide it from users. Click Submit to finish.
Tip 3: Organizing Old Courses/Shells
Is your course list getting a little cluttered? Wish you could reorganize your old Blackboard Courses? Here is a way to do just that.
Your course list contained within the “Courses” tab is displayed alphabetically, so a good way to reorganize them is to rename them. Place a “z” in front of the names of old shells and courses you are not using. This will force them to the bottom of the list.
From the Control Panel of the Course you wish to rename:
1. Click on the Settings l. ink in the Course Options section
2. Select Course Name and Description
3. Modify the Name of the course, and Submit.
Customize the View of My Courses
To remove courses from your “My Courses” module:
1. Click the button on the “My Courses” module.
2. In the “Display Course” column, check the box for each course that you wish to have displayed in your “My Courses” module. Uncheck the boxes for any courses you wish to remove from the module.
If you would like to see the Course ID along with the name of a course (helpful if you are teaching multiple sections of the same course), check the box under “Display Course ID ” for that particular course. Click “Submit” to save your changes.
You can follow the same process if you’d like to customize your Courses Tab as well.