Oberlin Center for Technologically Enhanced Teaching


Creating Senior Surveys

This post is directed towards administrative assistants who are creating senior surveys for the students in their departments.



Please contact OCTET at octet@oberlin.edu if you would like to use an online system for your senior surveys.


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.



Mobile Phone Notifications

It’s easy to stay up to date with Blackboard assignments even when you are away from your computer. You can arrange to receive notifications via text, voicemail, or through the Blackboard Mobile app.

To receive SMS text messages or voicemails:

1) First, double check that Blackboard has your mobile phone number. From My Blackboard in the upper right-hand corner, click “Settings”. Then continue to “Personal Information”. From there, you can add your mobile phone number.

*Click on the image to enlarge (it will open as the image and if you click a second time it will get bigger)*blackboard home settings personal info


2) Now you can edit your notification settings to include SMS messages or Text to Voice messages to your phone. Here are those steps:Text Settings

  1. From My Blackboard tab again, select Settings and then select Edit Notification Settings.
  2. On the Edit Notification Settings page, select the link for Courses I am taking to change notification settings for all courses at once.  Alternatively, you can make selections for individual courses by selecting a course name under Edit Individual Course Settings. The Current Notification Settings page appears and provides the same options.
  3. On the Change Settings page, check that your Notification Destinations are correct. If not, change them in your Personal Information (see above for instructions).
  4. Under Settings, select how your notifications are delivered by selecting the check box at the top of a column or by selecting check boxes for individual tools or features. Remove the check mark for any notification that you do not wish to receive.
  • Two-Way SMS (Oberlin College is not set up for this) 
  • Text-to-Voice – This column appears if your institution has enabled this feature. A voice message is sent to the phone number you provided in your Personal Information.
  • After making your notification selections, click Submit.


There is also a  Blackboard Mobile Learn app:

If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can download the Blackboard Mobile Learn from Apple’s App Store or from Google Play on Android. Push notification settings from these apps can be adjusted in the same manner as before, under the “Mobile” column. If you arrange for push notifications, you do not need text or voicemail notifications. Pick your preferred notification method so that you are only alerted once.

If you are having trouble, call the CIT Help Desk at 440-775-8197 or email them at cit@oberlin.edu


Welcome to the Oberlin College Blackboard FAQ

Please browse the Blackboard Help FAQ to find useful information about the system.  Click a tag in the cloud or use the search bar to find your information.

Click here to browse the online help for Instructors.

Click here to browse the online help for Students.

If you have trouble locating the right information, please contact us (octet@oberlin.edu).


Access materials from older courses

Are you looking for an old course that is not in your Blackboard course list?  If we have a copy of the course, you can access it through Blackboard.  When you log into the system you should see a box just below your course list titled “Access materials from older courses.”  Click the link in the box and you’ll be prompted to enter a password.  Input your ObieID (same one used to access Blackboard).  Once you enter your credentials, you will be presented with a list of past courses.  These are zipped package files and need to be downloaded to your computer before you can import them into Blackboard.  Click the link to the course to initiate download.  Please be sure to download the file without unzipping it.  Once you have the file on your computer, you can then use the import feature in your course site to upload it back into the system.

Click here to learn how to “Import Course Packages.”


Course menu missing when entering the course, unable to navigate course materials

If you are unable to see the main course menu, the most likely problem is that the main course menu has been hidden or minimized.  To fix this, locate the arrow on the left margin of the browser window about half way down the page.  Click this arrow to show the main course menu and return the site to normal navigation view.  Here’s a short video explaining what it looks like and how to correct the problem.

Hidden Menu Help Video


Manage weighted grades in the grade center

The Weighted column is a type of calculated column that generates a grade based on the result of selected columns and categories, and their respective percentages. When creating a Weighted column, you can include other calculated columns or other Weighted columns.

If there isn’t a “weighted total” column in the grade center already you can create one through the  “Create Calculated Column” option.  Once you have the weighted column, you can then manage the weights for the categories there.  Item 3 for this column type allows you to select categories that you can then weight.  Push the category to the right and then add the percentage.

For more information or specific details, please refer to the Blackboard documentation on Creating and Managing Grade Center Columns.  Refer to the sections “About Weighted Columns in the Grade Center” and “How to Create Weighted Columns in the Grade Center.”


Add image (s) to a test or exam question

Question settings include options to change default point values for a test, add images, files, or external links to questions and answers, and designate questions as extra credit.

Before you can begin adding images to questions, you will need to change the test or survey’s question settings.  See Changing Question Settings for more information.


Creating digital materials for your courses/organizations

Instructors can add file attachments to different areas in a course, such as to a content item, an assignment, or a Discussion Board post. Users open a file by clicking a link to the file that appears in the course.

Creating Audio files

  • When creating and saving audio files, be sure to save it as an MP3.
  • If at anytime you have questions or concerns about creating audio files for courses, please contact OCTET.

How can I acquire audio from different resources to use in my class?

  • You can link to audio files on the Internet.
  • You can import audio selections from CD’s using built in computer software (such as iTunes).
  • You can create your own audio using Audacity or Aviary (part of OCApps) to  record and edit audio files.

Creating Video files

  • When creating and saving video files, be sure to save it as an MP4 or MPEG.
  • If at anytime you have questions or concerns about creating video files for courses, please contact OCTET.

How can I acquire video from different resources to use in my class?

Creating PDFs 

  • When creating PDFs for distribution to students, it is recommended to save the file using the “Reduce File Size” option. Be sure to make the file compatible with Acrobat 4.0.
  • Try to scan documents in Black/White.  Scanning documents in greyscale or color increases the file size.

How can I make a PDF document to upload into Blackboard?

  • Articles and images can be scanned on OCTET’s scanner and converted into PDF files for easy access. These files can be posted on Blackboard for class use.
  • Most academic departments on campus have scanner/copies that can scan documents and send PDFs to your email address.  You’ll need to contact your departmental AA to verify if this is possible.
  • You can upload documents to GoogleDocs and export them as PDFs.

PowerPoint /Slides

Embedding Audio/Video files within PowerPoint:

If you plan to use audio and video within a PowerPoint presentation there are several things to consider:

If you just plan to show the PPT in class:

  • be sure that the audio/video clip is located somewhere on the computer (or media) you plan to use for the presentation
  • when you insert an audio/video clip in your PPT, it doesn’t actually add the file to the PPT.  Instead, it creates a link to the file, so it is very important that the file remains in the same location, otherwise PPT will not be able to locate it.

If you plan to show the PPT in class and make it available in Blackboard:

  • You will need to post the audio/video through Blackboard separately from the PPT.
  • If you create the PPT on a MAC, students using a Windows machine will not be able to view any inserted videos; if I am on a Windows machine, but the PPT was created on a MAC, it’s going to try to open QuickTime–which isn’t the default system player on a PC.
  • If you create the PPT on aWindows machine, students using a MAC will not be able to view any inserted videos; if I am on a MAC, but the PPT was created on a Windows machine, it’s going to try to open Windows Media Player–which isn’t the default system player.

Other file types for courses

Any file type can be uploaded to Blackboard.  However, remember that students need to be able to access the file when they download it.  This means that they need to have software that can open the file.  This can be especially useful to faculty who want to share files with students for specialized software that is only available in public labs on campus.  Students can access the files from their course sites while in the public lab.

Click here for more information about file attachments and recognized file types.



Understanding Wikis and Blogs

Wikis and Blogs are types of Social Software that enable people to rendezvous, connect or collaborate through the Internet.  Other types of social software includes:

  • Instant messaging (IM)
  • Text chat
  • Wikis (wikipedia)
  • Blogs (blogger.com)
  • Social bookmarking (post a list of bookmarks for others to use–digg.com, del.icio.us)
  • Massively-multiplayer online games (MMOGs)
  • Media Sharing:  Photo (flickr), Video (YouTube)
  • Social networks (MySpace, Facebook)

These tools have the potential to help educators connect what students do for fun with writing, reading, and learning content.


WIKI is an online collaboration model and tool that allows users to add/edit some content of web pages by using a simple web browser.  Wikis have an automatic revision history which allows users to track the evolution of the wiki over time.

Why would anyone use a WIKI?

  • Easy to use site with simple user interface, ability to add pages, and simple navigation
  • Students spend less time creating pages, and more time developing content
  • Allows students to collaborate on a project while sharing ideas, and providing immediate, equal access to the most recent version of the document
  • Track research and ideas from anywhere they have internet access
  • Helps save time by seeing what sources others have checked
  • Provides centralized location to collectively prepare final project



BLOG is short for weblog. A weblog is a journal (or newsletter) that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption on the web. Blogs generally represent the personality of the author or the Web site.  Some blogs allow users to comment.

  • Blogs can be used to rapidly publish new ideas and receive comments from diverse audiences
  • Create reflective or personal journals
    • Student can track progress in a course
    • Students can keep important notes handy in an online environment so that they have access wherever they have internet access
    • Instructors can provide feedback to the student using the  comment feature to guide student thinking and progress
  • To give students ownership of a personal space that encourages active engagement by the students and teacher
  • To connect with others and make connections to learning.