Oberlin Center for Technologically Enhanced Teaching


Collaborate vs Zoom

Video conferencing options at Oberlin College

There are two supported video conferencing options at Oberlin College. One is for course instructors and is fully integrated into all Blackboard courses. The other is available for students, faculty, and staff, independent of Blackboard.


Blackboard Instructors:

Collaborate – Should only be used from within Blackboard courses. Sessions are initiated through the Collaborate tool. Best practices and use cases for teaching and learning can be found on the Collaborate website.  Anyone who is an ‘Instructor’ in a course or ‘Leader’ in an org can initiate a conference. Conferences can include polling and screen sharing/recording options. Users without blackboard accounts can be invited into a Collaborate session via email.


There is an iOS and Android app for Collaborate


For assistance with Collaborate, check out online support or contact Blackboard directly.


All others:

Zoom – Should be used by people needing to connect outside Blackboard. Free accounts are available to everyone and are able to host sessions of two to three participants. Faculty and staff can obtain a license by contacting AV, at av@oberlin.edu, which will enable them to host sessions with more participants.


There is an app for your computer, as well as an iOS and Android app for Zoom.


For assistance with Zoom, check out online support or contact AV.


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.


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.


Photo Roster giving a JAVA error

In some cases trying to access the photo roster is producing a page full of error messages.  This is due to an interaction between the notification system and the way we've implemented the photo roster. While we ultimately would like to fix this, the quickest solution is to dismiss the notification (see the image below for details).


Librarian Access to BB

There are two ways to give librarians the ability to upload documents to your Blackboard site (eReserves).

Ask your librarian which is the most appropriate.  Option 1 or 2 are for Art and Conservatory courses. Option 3 is for all A&S courses.

Option 1. From the Need Help tab from Blackboard, the right column has a series of request forms. Fill out the form “Give library reserves access” form. If you want to get it done quickly, go to Option 2.

Option 2. From your BB site, you can categorize a course as ERes. Under Course Management, click “Customization” and then “Properties”. Under “Categorize Course”, move “ERes (Library Support)” to the Selected Items box using the arrow pointing to the right. The box on the right hand side should now have ERes listed. Be sure to submit changes.

Option 3. From the Menu area add a Tool to the menu.

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 1.35.02 PM

Select the eReserves tool from the dropdown menu that appears.

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 1.35.19 PM

Title the new menu area ‘eReserves’ or ‘Readings’ or anything else that will be useful to your students. Check off the ‘make available’ options and click on Submit. This will link directly to the content that was added by the librarian to your course eReserve folder.

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 1.35.43 PM


Putting a desktop icon of your Blackboard file system on your desktop.

This is in reference to the ‘Shared Location’ option found in the file system menu.

Blackboard allows you to create a server connection directly to the file system for a given course or organization. This will put an icon on your desktop and allow you to treat the Blackboard folder as you would a folder on your desktop. Once this is done you can upload, rearrange and delete files in your Blackboard course without logging in to Blackboard via a browser.

Here are the instructions for setting up the alias on a Mac or Windows for the course/org files area in Blackboard.

Blackboard’s instructions recommend that you disconnect from the server by either putting the icon in the trash or restarting the machine.  In cases where you are the only person working on that particular machine, you may want to retain access to the folder/server even after restarting your machine i.e. make the icon ‘stick.’  To do this you will need to

  1. Control and left click on the new drive connection on the desktop and select “Make Alias”.
  2. Rename the alias something else.
  3. When you restart the machine or disconnect the initial icon, the Alias will remain and can be used to easily reconnect. It will ask you to log in again.


Basic Blackboard Course/Org Interface

*Click on the image to see larger.  It will open up the image and you must click on it a second time.*

Instructor course page

A.  Page header: The area at the top of the page that contains the tabs, the global navigation menu, and Logout.  The tabs you see in the page header depend on your school’s licenses.
B.  Tabs: Blackboard Learn includes two common sets of tabs, discussed in the following tables.
C.  Content frame: Displays the selected tool or content area. By default, when you enter a course, the Home Page appears. You select the first page called the course entry point.
D.  Course menu: The access point for all course content. You decide which links are available here.
E.  Control Panel: The central access point for course management functions. You can manage the course style, course tools, and users from this area. Students do not see anything under the Course Management heading i.e. Control Panel functions.
F.  Action bar: Rows at the top of the page containing page-level actions such as Build Content, Search, Delete, and Upload. The functions on the action bar change depending on where you are in your course. The action bar can contain multiple rows of functions such as on the main Grade Center page.
G.  Edit Mode: When Edit Mode is ON, all the instructor functions appear, such as Build Content on the action bar in a content area or the appearance of contextual menus. When Edit Mode is OFF, you are viewing the page in student view. The Edit Mode function appears to users with a role of instructor, teaching assistant, course builder, and administrator.
H.  Breadcrumbs: As items and links are viewed in a content area, use the breadcrumbs to navigate to previous pages. Breadcrumbs trace the path to and from each item. Breadcrumbs, not the browser back button, are the best way to navigate backwards.



Enrolling Users

How to add users to a course or organization:

1.  Navigate to the site and under the Control Panel heading go to Users and Groups.

2.  Click on Users and when the new screen appears click on the “Find Users to Enroll” button.

(Click on images to enlarge)



3.  Another new screen appears. This screen wants you to enter a person’s username into the search box to enroll them.

3a. If you don’t know a users’ username then hit the “Browse” button to find a person’s username.  NOTE: If you started to type in a username, then switched to this browse option, make sure the Username input box (step 3) is empty before submitting – otherwise it will not work.

3b.  In the screen that opens, you can search all users.  The first drop down menu on the screen allows you to search by Username, First Name, Last Name or Email address. Select one.  The second drop down menu options include Contains, Equals To and Starts With.  Again select one.  In the third search box, type in the name you are looking for and hit the “Go” button.  This will pull up any user that meets the search criteria you selected.


3c. Once you find the user you are looking for, check the checkbox next to their name and hit “Submit”.  This step does not actually enroll the user in the site yet but grabs the users “username” and places it in the previous search window.



6.  Now the person’s username is placed into the search box from the previous screen and at this point you can select the person’s role within the site from the drop down box.  Then hit the “Submit” button.  You should receive a green action bar at the top of your screen telling you the action has been successfully completed and the user has been enrolled.  Make sure you click the x button to close the green box.


Instructors still have the ability to enroll users in courses. However, most students are automatically enrolled in courses through an automation process with Banner. This happens twice daily, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Unless there is a special need, instructors no longer need to manage the student list during the add/drop period. Remember that Presto (Banner) is the only official enrollment record at Oberlin College. Blackboard uses Banner to verify course enrollment and, as a result, automatically manages course lists.

The most important thing to remember is that if an instructor enrolls a student through the course, this breaks the “automation” from Banner, and the instructor will have to manage that user in the course. This is why we suggest that instructors not enroll students.

There are special cases where students may not be automatically enrolled in courses. These cases are discussed below.

Students Auditing or Oberlin High School students:

For special cases such as Oberlin High School students or students auditing your course, instructors should not add students to their courses. Please contact octet at octet@oberlin.edu, otherwise you risk losing all information for the student (grades, participation, etc) once the add/drop period ends.

Wait-listed students:

If you are an instructor who wait-lists students, you can enroll these students in the course but remember that you will have to manage this user for the remainder of the course. They will continue to have access throughout the term (like other students) until the course is made unavailable (about 2 weeks after the course ends). However, this will disconnect the automation (for these users only), so if they drop the course, you’ll have to make the course unavailable to the student or remove them completely.


Instructors can add other Oberlin faculty to their courses, and change their role (for instance to Teaching Assistant or Instructor) so that they can have greater access to the site. Instructors and leaders can do this under the control panel heading. Go to Users and Groups>>Users then search for the user in question. Once their name appears in the search window click the drop down arrows to the right of their name. Scroll to the bottom of the page and change their role to the appropriate selection. Be sure to click submit to retain the change.

Faculty from other institutions can only be added to Blackboard by OCTET. If you are conducting research with faculty from another institution, please contact OCTET through the link at the bottom of the page so that we can create an account for them to use.


I’ve tried to enroll a student in my course, but I can’t find them.

  • This usually happens if:

*the student is already enrolled in the course (go to Users and Groups>>Users under the control panel heading and search for them)
*the student enrolled in the course, but then dropped the course (contact OCTET, information below)
*the student does not have an account in Bb (contact OCTET, information below)

How do I change the roles for users in my course?

  • Instructors and leaders can do this under the control panel heading. Go to Users and Groups>>Users and search for the user in question. To the right of their name, click the drop down arrows. On the next page,  change their role to the appropriate selection. Be sure to click submit to retain the change.

Why is a student still receiving emails from my course even though the student has dropped?

  • The new system automatically enrolls and removes students from courses as they are added/dropped through Presto twice a day. If the course is still appearing for a student or if that student is still receiving emails from the course even though they dropped, than the student was probably manually enrolled in the course. Manually enrolling a student in a course breaks the automation, and the instructor will need to remove the student manually.

Why is a course still listed for a student even though the student has dropped?

  • The new system automatically enrolls and removes students from courses as they are added/dropped through Presto twice a day. If the course is still appearing for a student or if that student is still receiving emails from the course even though they dropped, than the student was probably manually enrolled in the course. Manually enrolling a student in a course breaks the automation, and the instructor will need to remove the student manually.

For user requests or changes, contact OCTET through email (octet@oberlin.edu), phone (x58345), or come visit us in Mudd 052!