Tips for Troubleshooting in Blackboard

Like any technology, sometimes things in Blackboard don’t function as we might expect. If something should go wrong or act a little funny, you can always feel free to contact the Helpdesk. But there are also a few easy troubleshooting strategies that you can try, which may solve your problem immediately. Even if they don’t solve the problem, the steps below will likely speed up the process once you get in touch with a Helpdesk technician and will help that person to diagnose the problem.

Click here to refresh a page in Blackboard

Click this button to refresh a page in Blackboard

Refresh the screen
If something looks a little off, it could just mean that the page didn’t load properly in your Internet browser. Your Blackboard menu includes a refresh icon. Click that button to reload the Blackboard page without losing your place in the course.

Log out and log back in
Your login session is timed to protect your course content and grading information in case you should step away from the computer for an extended period of time. If you have been in Blackboard for a long time, your session may have timed out, which can cause links to appear broken or other error messages.

Logout button in Blackboard

Logout button in Blackboard

If you are having trouble accessing content in Blackboard, try clicking the logout button in the top right corner. Then, log back in directly into Blackboard (using your portal credentials) or by going through the mylasalle portal. Students should always log out and log back in before starting a long online exam to avoid getting timed out in the middle.

Logo for Mozilla's Firefox Internet browser

Logo for Mozilla’s Firefox Internet browser

Try a different Internet browser
Blackboard can behave differently in different browsers. The La Salle ID team has found that Firefox tends to be the most compatible browser with Blackboard, so you may want to make this your default browser for logging into Blackboard.

If content ever appears to be missing or is displaying in an odd way, make sure that you have at least one other browser installed (such as Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Safari), so that you can test if this is a browser-specific problem. This is often the case and, by switching browsers, you can continue your work while the Helpdesk is looking into the browser bug.

Also, sometimes updating your browser can address the problem. You can usually update your browser by looking for the “About” option from the file menu (see below) or by going to the browser’s website.

About_Firefox

The help menu in your Internet browser should include information about updating to the latest version.

Check your course as a test student
If you are an instructor, you can see a lot of things in Blackboard that your students cannot. If students have emailed you that course content is missing or that they are confused by their Grade Center view (called My Grades), you should try logging into your course as a test student to see what they are seeing. This is better than using the edit on/off button, which isn’t an exact version of what students see.

Clear HTML formatting in the text editor
When you copy and paste content into the Blackboard text editor from another website or from a Microsoft Word document, it can sometimes bring along HTML code that you can’t see, but that Blackboard can read. If your content looks strangely formatted, you can try removing the unnecessary HTML code, which may help correct strange behavior in your course. To remove the HTML formatting:
1. Edit the item.
2. Select all of the text.
3. Click the “clear formatting” button in the content editor (it looks like an eraser as shown below).
4. Click the Submit button.

Clear formatting

Remove special characters from Blackboard titles and file names
Avoid using special characters (like, / # . , ! < > & ‘ ) when naming your Blackboard items and files. If you are having trouble with an item in the Grade Center or you can’t open a file or link, remove any non-alphanumeric characters from the name or title, which may solve the problem.

Don't name your links or files with special characters.

Don’t name your links or files with special characters.

Update Java
If you are using our web-conferencing systems (Collaborate or Wimba), make sure that you regularly update Java, which is free software that these tools need to operate correctly. You can check to make sure that you have the latest version from Java.com. Most of the problems with these systems are caused by outdated versions of Java. For best results, always restart your computer after you update Java.

Restart your computer
It is amazing how many times this trick has saved even the most seasoned IT professional. Restarting your computer can sometimes be all that is needed to fix strange computer behavior.

Get more information about a Blackboard tool
Sometimes the problem may just be that you are not sure how to use a particular Blackboard tool. You can always feel free to get in touch with any member of the Instructional Design team about Blackboard questions, but if you are looking for an immediate answer and our phone lines are tied up, these resources may help:

  • How Do I page: The ID Team regularly posts guides, videos, and blog posts here that cover all types of Blackboard tools and other educational technology resources.
  • Blackboard OnDemand: These instructional videos have been created by Blackboard. This site covers many of the basics about building and using their tools.
  • Blackboard Help: This is another support resource from Blackboard.  You can search topics at the top of the page. Select your role (student or instructor) underneath the search box to get the best results.

Try these troubleshooting tips the next time something unexpected happens in Blackboard. Also, you can post this link in your Blackboard course if you think that your students can benefit from these tips as well!

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