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Faculty Help for Blackboard Learn

This page contains Blackboard Learn 9.1 help documents for faculty (see the files on the right side of this webpage in the File Downloads area). We have written directions specifically for how Blackboard is set up at Oregon Tech and posted them here.

Listed in the Additional Resources area you have access to the help documents provided by Blackboard that show even more details but be aware that they may show options that you don't have available to you in our version. There are many add-on components that we did not purchase.

Even though all browsers are supposed to work with Blackboard, we have found that Internet Explorer doesn't work as well with it. We recommend using Mozilla Firefox, Chrome or Safari instead. Also no matter which browser you normally use, if you have a problem with Blackboard, the first thing you should do is try a different browser to see if that fixes the problem.

Blackboard 9.1 Videos

This version of Blackboard has a very robust Grade Center. There are so many features that we wanted to create videos to help you learn how to use some of them.

Grade Center FAQ

How do I delete a column?

There are two ways to delete columns. The method you need to use depends on if the column is attached to an item in Blackboard or if the column was created directly in the Grade Center.

If the column was created directly in the Grade Center, click the action link next to the item's name in the Grade Center and select "Delete Column."

If the column is attached to an item in Blackboard, you will NOT see the "Delete Column" option listed. You need to delete the actual item in the class and the grade column will automatically be deleted from the Grade Center. For example: Go to the Assignments area and delete an assignment. The corresponding grade center column for that assignment will be deleted by Blackboard.

My total column isn't calculating correctly. What is wrong?

There are quite a few things that could be wrong. The main issues to watch for are these:

1. By default the Total column uses a "running total" feature, which only includes numerical values. If a student has the double-dash symbol (--) in one of their cells it won't be calculated as zero. Instead it will be excluded from their total. This is good during the term because the student sees how they are doing at that point based on just the items that should be completed by then. But when the term ends, you need to either change the Total column to not being a "running total" or you need to enter zeros in any items that a student did not complete. If you don't make a change, then the total available points in a particular student's My Grade area may be incorrect if they didn't get a grade on all items. (Their "out of" total will only include the total points available for the items they completed.)

2. There is a sample assessment in many classes. It may be hidden in your class or it may be showing. It doesn't matter what its display status is, but it does matter if it was assigned points or not. Some of the "Using the Assessments Tool" tests were given points of 10 points each for a total of 40 points. If you do not want to award points for doing this practice test, you need to make the points zero for each question. If your students don't need this practice test, you should delete it and the grade column should be removed. Don't just hide it, because that doesn't exclude the points from the total grade.

3. Even if you hide a column, the points will still count towards the total grade. You may have hidden a column in your grade book and forgot about it. While in the Grade Center, put your cursor over the "Manage" button and select "Column Organization" from the list. Look for hidden columns that have points assigned. You need to un-hide those columns and either delete the column or change the points to be zero for that item. Also be warned that hiding a column in your grade center, does NOT hide it from the students. It only hides it from you. You have to un-select "Show this column to students" to hide an item from them.

4. There are other things that could be wrong with your grade center that cause the total points to calculate incorrectly. Call the Online Office for further assistance.

I hid a column but my students can see it still even though I can't. What happened?

Hiding columns is used to hide a column from you, not from students. You can see if you have any hidden columns by going to the Grade Center, putting your cursor over the "Manage" button, and selecting "Column Organization" from the list. Look for columns with the hidden label. You need to make an item visible before you can edit it. Once the column is visible in the grade center, you can choose to hide the column from students as well as change the assigned points, column name, etc.

To hide a column from your students, you will need to follow these steps. First the column has to be showing in your grade center, so un-hide it if it is not visible. Click the action link next to the item name and select "Show/Hide to Users" from the menu.

If you want to also hide this column from your view, you can, but you don't have to. In order to hide it from yourself, click the action link next to the item name and select "Hide Column" from the menu.

How do I hide a grade column from students?

To hide a column from your students only, follow these steps. First the item has to be showing in your grade center, so un-hide it if you had hid the column and you don't see it in the Grade Center. Click the Action Link next to the item name and select "Show/Hide to Users" from the menu (many faculty accidentally select "Hide Column" instead which only hides the column from the faculty member NOT the students).

Does hiding a column in the grade center exclude it from the total points?

No. Just hiding a column does not exclude it from the total points column. If you don't want to delete the column that you want to exclude, you can set up your total points column to ONLY include the columns you want rather than to include all columns. By default, the total points column is set up to include ALL columns though.

How do I create a basic total column?

Note that you may already have a total column in your grade center.

If this is a new class, a total column is added by default that automatically includes ALL grade columns in the total. If that is what you want, then you don't need to do anything.

If you want to exclude certain columns, you will need to edit the total column. Click the action link next to the Total column in your Grade Center, and click "Edit Column Information" from the menu. Scroll down to section 3 where it says "Include in Total" and click the radio button to the left of "Selected Columns and Categories" instead of the default "All Grade Columns." Click the column you want to include and then click the right pointing arrow icon to add it to the box on the right side of the page. Repeat this step as needed. Note you can use the Ctrl key to select more than one class at a time. Click Submit when done.

Warning:  The default is to have your total column be a running total. This probably is what you want during the term. At the end of the term though, your total column may not be calculating like you expect. See the item in this FAQ labeled "My total column isn't calculating correctly" for more information.

How do I create a percentage column based off my total points column?

You will need to create a separate column in order to show students their total points grade as a percentage. To create it, you will need to be in your Full Grade Center. Put your cursor over the "Create Calculated Column" button at the top and select "Total Column" from the list.

For the column name field, enter a descriptive name like Percentage. In the Primary Display field, select "Percentage" from the list. Click the circle in front of "Selected Columns and Categories" in the "Include in Total" area. The only item you want to select is the Total column. Click it and then click the right pointing arrow icon to add it to the box on the right. Click Submit.

Warning: If you leave the option to calculate this percentage as a running total, the percentage will only include cells with numeric values. Be sure to enter a zero for an item if a student did not complete an item. If you leave an item blank, the field will be ignored and the student could still have a 100% in the class at the end of the term even though they didn't complete everything.

How do I create a column that shows students their final grade?

Open your Full Grade Center.  Put your cursor over the "Create Calculated Column" button at the top and select "Total Column" from the list.

For the column name field, enter a descriptive name like Final Grade. In the Primary Display field, select "Letter" from the list. Click the circle in front of "Selected Columns and Categories" in the "Include in Total" area. The only item you want to select is the Total column. Click it and then click the right pointing arrow icon to add it to the box on the right. Click Submit.

Warning:  If you leave the option to calculate this column as a running total, the grade will only include cells with numeric values. Be sure to enter a zero for an item if a student did not complete an item. If you leave an item blank, the field will be ignored and the student could still have a A in the class at the end of the term even though they didn't complete everything.

How do I create and use categories?

If you plan to use a Weighted Total column, you should assign all items to a category. You can create additional categories if the default ones don't include all of the ones you want. 

To see the current options of categories, and add one if needed, go to the Full Grade Center. Put your cursor over the "Manage" button and select "Categories" from the list. If you need to add an additional category, click the "Create Category" button at the top of the page. Fill in the fields and click Submit.  Click OK to leave the categories area.

To assign your graded items to categories, go to the Full Grade Center. Put your cursor over the "Manage" button and select "Column Organization" from the list. Look in the Category column to identify which items need to be assigned a category. To change the category for an item, click the checkbox in front of the item. Then put your cursor on the button at the bottom of the page labeled "Change Category to.." Select the category from the list. Repeat for all graded items. Be sure to click Submit when you finish making your changes.

How do I create a weighted grade column?

Faculty sometimes have different formulas they like to use for creating a weighted column. The directions here are for a basic weighted column. If your formulas don't work in this scenario, please call the Online Office for assistance.

Go to your Full Grade Center. You may already have a Weighted Total column. If so, you can edit it by clicking the Action Link next to the heading and selecting "Edit Column Information." If you don't have a Weighted Total column, put your cursor over the "Create Calculated Column" button and select "Weighted Column" from the list.

In the Primary Display field, you can choose to show this item as a score, percentage or letter (grade). Choose whichever you prefer.

In section 3, click an item on the left and then click the right pointing arrow icon to move it to the box on the right side. You can either click a column in the top box or a category in the bottom box. (You need to set up your columns using categories for that option to work, though.) Be sure you don't add an item from the column box that would already be included in a category you select. For example: if you select the category labeled "Assignment," you wouldn't want to then also select each assignment from the top box labeled "Columns to Select."

After the item is move to the box on the right, you will see a box to enter the percentage that item is worth. You can also drop the highest or lowest grades including the number of them to drop, such as dropping the lowest two grades.

Your total percentage needs to equal 100%. Click Submit when done.

Do grades look the same to students on the Blackboard mobile app?

No, the students see a slightly different view of their grades when they look at them on the mobile app. You may want to have them check their My Grades area from a regular computer if they are confused by what they see in the mobile app. The main difference is that the mobile app has a percentage field in front of each item even if you assign points, not percentages, for their grade.

For example, a student takes quiz 1 worth 20 points and gets only 5 points. When they view this in My Grades on the mobile app, the first column will show 25% and the second column will show Quiz 1 Points: 5/20. If they look at this same item on a regular computer, they would see Quiz 1 Grade 5.00/20 and there wouldn't be a percentage listed.

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