Oberlin Center for Technologically Enhanced Teaching


How to Add Files to Blackboard from Language Lab

Instructions for adding Language Lab files to a class on Blackboard. To view a screenshot larger, click on it.

1. Add an item to any content area by hovering over “Build Content” in the upper left corner, then clicking on “Item” in the list of creation options

2. Once you are in item creation mode, scroll down to the “Attachments” section and click on “Browse Content Collection”

3. After entering the Content Collection, hover over “Browse” in the upper left corner, then click on “Library Content”

4. This will bring you to the library content, where you can click on the “Language Lab” section to see the audio files for each class.

5. To add the files you want, use the box on the left to select them, then hit “Submit”, which will add them to the item you are creating.



Grammarly for students

We are running a pilot of the Grammarly product through June 30th, 2018.

What is it and how does it work?

Grammarly automatically detects grammar, spelling, punctuation, word choice, and style mistakes in your writing. It’s easy to use:
  • Copy and paste any English text into Grammarly’s Editor, or install Grammarly’s free browser extension for Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge. Grammarly will help you write correctly on nearly every site on the web.
  • Grammarly’s algorithms flag potential issues in the text and suggest context-specific corrections for grammar, spelling, wordiness, style, punctuation, and even plagiarism. Grammarly explains the reasoning behind each correction, so you can make an informed decision about whether, and how, to correct an issue.
  • Download Grammarly for Microsoft® Office on Windows.

More information about Grammarly can be found on the Grammarly website.

To request an invite to access the premier version via the Oberlin College pilot program, fill out the form below. A survey will be sent out at the end of April to assess this product’s utility in our environment. The pilot runs through June 30th, 2018.  Further access will be determined after assessing usage statistics and feedback from the survey.


Using the SmartEvals course evaluation system (info for faculty)

N.B.: SmartEvals will open multiple tabs so that you can move between screens of information without using the back button on the browser.

Before release to students

You will receive an email towards the middle of the semester informing you that you can view and add quesitons to your student evaluations.

Getting to the SmartEvals system:

  1. Go to Blackboard (http://blackboard.oberlin.edu) and log in using your ObieID.
    Your ObieID is 8 characters. It is not your email (e.g. aborroni@oberlin.edu), nor is it your alias (albert.borroni@oberlin.edu) or T#.  Mine would be aborroni. Use the same password used to log in to your oberlin.edu email.
  2. Once in Blackboard, click on the Survey tab/link at the top of the page and then click on the ‘Login to SmartEvals’ link.

Once in SmartEvals, various options are available.

  1. Preview what students will see (click on magnifying glass).
  2. CRN, DEPartTment-NUMber-SEction
  3. Course title
  4. Course Type
  5. The total # of students that will be receiving email reminders about the evaluation.
  6. Ongoing response rate as a percentage of the total number of students.
  7. The ability to add your own questions (up to 10)
    • Click on “Add Q’s.”
    • Click on paper and pencil
    • Ignore big red banner telling you there are no questions. This only means that there have been no questions ADDED.
    • Click on the Add question button at the bottom of the page
    • Fill in the requisite information
    • Click on ‘Create Question …’ at the bottom of the page.
    • When done, select ‘Done’ at the top of the page.
    • Video of process:
  8. The ability to view past results and download both summary and individual student responses.

If anything is incorrect contact evals@oberlin.edu asap.


After close of evaluation period (View Results)

Survey results will be available the day after the final grades are due.  An email will be sent out with a pdf summary of the data and instructions for viewing individual responses (similar to what you see in your paper results) but in case you missed them, here they are again.

Getting to the SmartEvals system:

  1. Go to Blackboard (http://blackboard.oberlin.edu) and log in using your ObieID.
    Your ObieID is 8 characters. It is not your email (e.g. aborroni@oberlin.edu), nor is it your alias (albert.borroni@oberlin.edu) or T#.  Mine would be aborroni. Use the same password used to log in to your oberlin.edu email.
  2. Once in Blackboard, click on the Survey tab/link at the top of the page and then click on the ‘Login to SmartEvals’ link.

Viewing results in SmartEvals:

Once logged in to SmartEvals, you will see a list of courses where the online evaluation system was used. Click on the little graph icon at the end of the row under the ‘See’ column to view the results.

Once you’ve accessed the results for a particular course, the tabs at the top of the page will provide access to several different reports.The system defaults to a ‘Custom Report’ which is summary of how each question was answered by your students.

Clicking on the ‘Individual Evaluations’ tab will give you the responses submitted by an individual student (without providing their name) — very similar to the format you are accustomed to seeing.

To PRINT the Individual reports for pretenure or tenure review …

  • click on the ‘Export Report to PDF’ button.
  • Then look in your downloads folder for the reports.

More info

  • Custom Report – This is the default view, i.e. the window will open to a ‘Custom Report’ that gives means and standard deviations of the Likert-scale responses and lists the prose answers to all question.  What you see by default should be similar to the pdf attached to this email.  However, the Customizable Report also allows you to create your own built-in metrics dashboard with drill down functionality.
  • Individual Evaluations – View like paper evals: Very similar to what you are accustomed to seeing with paper evals where each student’s responses appear in a single report.


Converting video/audio files

Since we are mostly a Mac campus, most of our video and audio is saved in a .mov format. Many Windows machines and browsers are not very good at automatically displaying these files. Therefore, we’ve been asked if there is any way to easily convert .mov files to something more compatible e.g. MP3 or MP4 format.

Here is one approach that seems very simple:

1) Place all files you want to convert into the same folder. If they are in Blackboard use the Shared Location Setup function in the FILE section of the control panel to map the course files to a folder on your desktop.

2) Choose the file you wish convert (hold “shift” while selecting the file to select multiple files)

3) Select the desired converted format and adjust quality settings. For audio or stripping the audio from a video file, MP3 with the default settings will work.

4) Hit the “convert” button. This will do the conversion on each file and, when done, zip the files into a single compressed file.

5) Download converted files.  This will be a 1-step process because all the files will be in 1 zip file).

6) Open the zip file on your machine.
7) If these are to replace files already in Blackboard, go to the Blackboard>>File option in your course. Don’t just replace the .mov files in the Shared Location folder on your desktop. If you do this, you will lose the connection to the quiz question or item where the file is deployed.
8) To overwrite Blackboard files, once in the content collection/Files area, click on the down carat next to the appropriate  file you want to replace and select ‘Overwrite File.’  This method will retain all the connections that particular file has to any item, quiz, posting etc in your site.


Add Questions to your SmartEvals Course Evaluation (info for faculty)

Instructions to add questions to your course evaluation.  To view a screenshot larger, click on it

  1. Login to SmartEvals using your Blackboard username and password

  2. If you are an instructor, you should land on this page.  If you are a department head, on the top bar, click on Account, and choose “View as instructor”.  That should take you to this page.  Click on Add Q’s

  3. Click on the pencil “edit” symbol beside the survey you want to add questions to

  4. Click on Add Questions

  5. Here you can either create a new question or add a question you’ve made before.  Use the upper box to make new questions, and use the lower box to add existing questions.

  6. Feel free to email (octet@oberlin.edu), call (x58345), or visit our office (Mudd 052) if you have any questions!


Creating a Podcast assignment

Tools for creating podcasts (audio files)

Some suggestions for those interested in creating a ‘podcast’ (audio) assignment for their students. 

Have students create a script (double-spaced, 1 page is about 1 minute)

Easiest tool to use is either Audacity (free download / Garage Band (comes on all Macs). Here are some useful tutorials for using these tools. 

Audacity Podcast Tutorial

Garageband Podcast Tutorial

If your students need any assistance with the assignment, have them contact our media consultants at ocmc@oberlin.edu.  They have drop-in hours Sunday through Thursday from 7-10pm.  The are colocated with the Writing Associates in the back of the first floor of Mudd. Also, if students want to experiment with higher quality audio, A/V has two USB mics that would be ideal. A/V is located on the 4th floor of Mudd.

Submitting and grading the assignment

The best way to have students submit the podcast and script is through Blackboard Journal.  The beauty of this mechanism is that you can quickly go through each one AND the submissions can be made available to the students after everyone has turned in their assignments by simply editing 1 journal setting.

Get into journal settings:


Check the appropriate box so that students can see each other’s work: 



Accounting for extra credit in the Blackboard grade center

A very useful video explaining how to add extra credit to a final grade or exclusively to a set of assignments, and have that update the grade a student sees in the Blackboard grade center.


Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign

Now that Adobe products are available in all labs on campus and for faculty/staff use, people have been asking which product should they use. Specifically, should one use Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign. I recently stumbled across a very easy to follow answer to this question. You can find it here: https://99designs.com/blog/tips/photoshop-vs-illustrator-vs-indesign/



Blackboard at Oberlin 17-18

Blackboard provides member-only and community sites for courses and organizations at Oberlin College.

Finding Blackboard

There are links to Blackboard on multiple sites within the oberlin.edu domain. However, I’ve found that the easiest way to get to is it to simply type ‘blackboard.oberlin.edu’ into the address bar at the top of the browser.  You can also search for ‘blackboard oberlin.’

Logging inBlackboard_logo

Your ObieID and password will get you into Blackboard.  Your ObieID is your first initial, last name (max of 8 characters) e.g. jcalisto.  Using your email address e.g. jcalisto@oberlin.edu or john.calistoga@oberlin.edu as your username will not work.

Getting help

Check out the Need Help tab. Common issues are addressed there. A search box will search Blackboard and relevant postings in our site for the answer to your question.  You can also go directly to HELP on the Blackboard site. Please don’t spend too much time searching for answers. It is very likely that our office (OCTET) has already worked through the issue.  Therefore, we recommend a 10-minute rule: If you can’t get an answer in 10 minutes, call (440 775-8345) or email OCTET (bbhelp@oberlin.edu or octet@oberlin.edu). We highly recommend contacting us if you intend on using the grade center.


Make sure your personal information is correct

you Most information in Blackboard comes from our Student/Employee information system.  Therefore, if it is incorrect in Blackboard, it is probably incorrect in Banner, our information system. If the information you see in Blackboard is incorrect, contact the appropriate office asap. Having incorrect information in Banner can affect many systems.  Students should contact the Registrar (registrar@oberlin.edu). Faculty and Staff should contact Human Resources (human.resources@oberlin.edu).

While most information is changed via contacting the registrar or H.R., your cell phone number (needed to activate txt messages from Bb), a website URL and your personal pronouns can be adjusted directly from within Blackboard.


Make sure you have access to the correct courses and orgs

Faculty should see unavailable AND available course sites as well as organizations corresponding to General Faculty, division (College or Conservatory),  and department. For those that have been here more than a year, sites for any committees they are on and advisees will also be available.  Other miscellaneous organizations may also appear in the My Organizations module.

All students should see any courses made ‘available’ by the instructor AND an advisor and a Class Hub organization. Once a major/minor has been declared, the department org for that major/minor will appear.  Furthermore, when a student is ready to graduate, other organizations will appear.

Set your NOTIFICATION Preferences

Set your notifications and remind your students to do the same.  You can also have Blackboard send txt messages by first adding your cell phone number in your Personal Information settings before going to the Notification Dashboard. There are many ways to get your Personal Information.  The easiest is to click on the ‘Check Info’ option in the My Info module on the landing page (the one with your photo in it).  To get to the Notification Dashboard go to the arrow next to your name in the top right corner, click on Settings and then click on Notification Dashboard (you’ll also see a link to Personal Information in this menu area).


Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 8.24.55 AM Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 10.16.52 AM Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 10.29.02 AM


The interface is customizable and can be different for staff, faculty and students.  Currently, the design presents 5 or 6 tabs:

Blackboard tabs

  • Academic Hub – Announcements will show up at the top. Frequently used tools will be links in the left column. Courses will show up in the center and organizations in the right column.  Your info will show in the left column under the Tools/Quick link module.
  • Survey – this tab only appears for students when it is time for them to evaluate their course.  Faculty/Staff should always have access to this tab.
  • Courses – list of ALL courses as well as info on registering, course locations etc.
  • Community – list of various organizations and tools are collated here including the user directory and classroom information.
  • Content Collection (only faculty/staff) – provides access to documents, images etc. in all your courses and organizations. It also allows for the storage of ‘institutional’ documents. It acts much like a google drive.
  • Need Help? Various request forms can be found here as well as information on how to use specific features.

Don’t forget to check out the subtabs!

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 4.45.17 PM

Additional noteworthy functionality:

Modules in each tab can be  …

  • rearranged drag the module by putting the mouse in the module header and clicking and holding while moving the module.
  • added
    Click on the Add Module button in the top left margin. If you have other information you would like to have access to as a ‘module,’ contact bbhelp@oberlin.edu with your idea and we’ll see what we can do.
    Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 11.17.27 AM

The Content Collection area (faculty/staff only) allows for easier management of documents.  The link titled ‘Content Collection’ at the top of the site will take you to a window where you can search for, modify, delete, or add documents in sites in which you are a member. You can also overwrite files. This will keep the links to the file but show users the new file rather than the old file.  More info

‘Personalize’ your tabs – give them your own color scheme by clicking on the ‘Personalize Page’ option in the top right corner of the site.

Use the Mobile App. Free access to Blackboard mobile app allows the viewing of organization and course materials, the adding of discussion posts, and the ability to have other interactions via a phone and/or tablet. There is a fast grader app for iOS devices that looks interesting and a separate one for students.  More info and links to apps.

Activate text messaging and txt to voice capabilities. This is related to the Notifications section but deserves additional attention. Get announcements and information about changes to your courses or orgs via txt or txt to voice messaging. While faculty and organization leaders will still be able to post announcements and send emails, users can set up additional notification channels by modifying their notification settings.


Specific information for instructors of courses


SmartEvals: Sending reminder email to unresponsive students (for faculty)

A. Log into Blackboard. Click on the ‘Survey’ tab.

B. Click the ‘Login to SmartEvals’ link.

C. Once you’re in the SmartEvals product, select the ‘not set’ link in the AutoEmail column.

D.  You can either email the students in ALL your course that have still not filled out the survey OR only the students who have not filled it out in a specific course.

E. Follow the 4 steps below to prepare, test and send your email. There is a mechanism in place that does not allow you to send a second email within 24 hours of the first.  This is done to prevent the ‘spamming of your students.’