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Technology Snapshots from Instructional Services

Technology Snapshots are short email messages covering a wide variety of instructional technology topics of interest to anyone involved with instruction at NDSU. Each message contains links to complete information and instructions/tutorials for using the featured tools.

Snapshot Archives: Last Updated: 8/13/2018

Customize Blackboard Course Menu Colors

Blackboard course menu colors are no longer restricted to white text on a dark gray background! (8/13/18):

Instructors can change the background and text colors of the course menu on the left:

  1. Click Customization (below the Control Panel) > Teaching Style
  2. Select the desired Background Color and/or Text Color in the Style section > Apply
  3. Click Submit

Extended menu areas such as the Control Panel for instructors and the My Groups menu for students remain in the dark gray and white color scheme.

Learn more about other new features and changes to Blackboard

For help contact the IT Help Desk at

Course Activation in Blackboard Manager

Fall 2018 courses are ready for activation in Blackboard Manager - get ready for fall now! (6/22/18):

To make it easier for instructors to activate their Blackboard courses each semester we have moved the Bb Manager login link to the new Course Activation tab at the top of the Blackboard window. The Course Activation tab also contains a link to complete instructions for using Bb Manager to activate courses, manage course enrollments and view dropped students’ grades for Financial Aid verification, along with information to help students locate their courses.

The Bb Manager instructions pages were also updated to reflect recent changes and additions to the Bb Manager utility.

Detailed Instructions for Using Bb Manager

Login to Bb Manager

For help contact the IT Help Desk at

New Box View (Inline Grading) Recent and Upcoming Changes

New Box View (Inline Grading) Enhancements! (3/27/18):

Blackboard updated the New Box View inline grading application on 3/26/18 to include two of the most highly requested improvements - other requested improvements and enhancements are slated for delivery in the near future.

  • "Sticky" Annotation Mode: Users can add multiple comments and highlights in sequence without having to click the Comment button in the top navigation bar between each comment

  • Drawing Mode: a new Drawing tool allows users the ability to use their mouse to add freehand drawings to documents during grading

  • Annotation download capabilities: currently in development, with implementation targeted for 2018, Quarter 2

  • Browser issues: several earlier issues with different browsers have been resolved

Learn more about New Box View and Inline Grading in Assignments

Contact the ITS Learning and Applied Innovation team at for more information.

Assignment/Inline Grading Tip and New Box View Webinars and Information

An Important New Box View Tip – please share this tip with students as well: (2/13/18)

If you or your students see this message in New Box View (the Crocodoc inline grading replacement) when opening a Blackboard assignment for grading or after submitting an assignment, and the conversion timer never changes or disappears, there’s a quick solution - click the browser’s Refresh or Reload button to force the file to render!

  • Instructors expect to see the student's submitted files rendered in New Box View immediately on opening the assignment for grading.
  • Students expect to see their attached file rendered immediately after they click Submit. The assignment submission is successful even if the file is not rendered in the assignment viewer.

Upcoming Blackboard Webinars on Inline Grading and New Box View Updates

8:00 AM, Thursday, February 15, 2017 – Blackboard is working with the New Box View vendor to integrate more functionality. Find out what changes may be coming and when you can expect them!

Register at

Learn more about New Box View and Inline Grading in Assignments

Contact the ITS Learning and Applied Innovation team at for more information.

Resolve Total Column Issues in Blackboard's Grade Center

Fix the Most Common Blackboard Grade Center Problem! (5/9/17)

At this time of the semester, many faculty need to repair their Grade Center (the gradebook) in Blackboard. Most commonly, the Total column doesn't display the expected number of points possible, which can affect percentages and letter grades.

Why the Grade Center Total column may be 'off':

  • Hidden Columns: Points in hidden columns still calculate in the total grade. Click Manage | Column Organization. Un-hide and delete any grayed-out columns which aren't needed.
    Note: Columns hidden from students can also cause problems.

  • Running Total: At the end of a semester, edit the Total column to set the Calculate as Running Total option to No. Empty grade cells will then be treated as zeroes for computation, eliminating the need to enter the zeroes manually.

  • Extra Credit: The Points Possible option must be set to zero to calculate Extra Credit points correctly!

See complete instructions with screen shots

For individual help contact the ITS Instructional Services team at

Let Blackboard Help with Mid-Term Grade Reporting!

Let Blackboard Help with Mid-Term Grade Reporting!  (2/27/17)

The deadline to enter Spring 2017 Mid-term grades into Campus Connection is Friday, March 10

Let the Blackboard Grade Center do some of the work for you!

There are 3 basic tasks involved in the Grade Center:

  • Create a customized grading schema to display letter grades in the Grade Center
  • Create a 2nd calculated Total column to calculate the total points earned up to a specific cutoff point and display those scores as a letter grade
  • Create a Smart View to display only students with grades below a C in your course in the Grade Center (optional)

See complete instructions at

For individual help contact the ITS Instructional Services team at

Why Students Can't See My Grades by Course for Specific Courses / External Grade Columns

Why Students Can't See My Grades by Course for Specific Courses / External Grade Columns (2/17/17)

Students prefer to use the My Grades link in the Global Navigation toolbar or on the Home tab in Blackboard to check all of their grades at once rather than checking My Grades in each course manually.

If a course DOES NOT have one column set as the “External Grade” column in the Grade Center or that column is hidden from students, the course won't appear in the My Grades by Course page so students must open the course to see their grades!

To “fix” this issue:

  1. Open the Full Grade Center for the course – locate any calculated column (i.e. Total, etc.) which is not hidden from student view
  2. Click the down arrow icon to the right of the column name | click “Set as External Grade” – a green check mark will appear next to the column name

See complete instructions at

For individual help contact the ITS Instructional Services team at

Un-hiding Dropped Students in Blackboard Courses

Un-hiding Dropped Students in Blackboard Courses - (2/10/17)

Students who drop a course in Campus Connection are now automatically dropped from your Blackboard course. If you need information on these students you can simply “Add” them back into your Blackboard course using the Course Enrollment link in the Blackboard Manager utility by following the Bb Manager Course Enrollments instructions.

For detailed instructions:

Once you have the information you need, remember to “Drop” the student from the course using the Bb Manager Course Enrollment drop instructions.

To access Bb Manager:

For individual help contact the ITS Instructional Services team at

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TLMC Faculty Resources - New Website

Technology Learning and Media Center (TLMC) Faculty Resources - New Website - (2/4/16)

The Technology Learning & Media Center (TLMC) has a new website to showcase student technology assignments and projects and to inform instructors about faculty resources at the TLMC.

Visit our faculty resources website at

More info . . .

The TLMC is located at Quentin Burdick Building 150C and supports a wide range of student technology projects, including videos, podcasts, digital stories, documentaries, publications, large-format posters, and various graphics projects. Watch this short video describing our services:

Contact us:

Creation of Master/Child Course -- Now What?

So you've created a Master/Child course -- now what do you do? (1/07/16)

Complete instructions

For individual help contact the ITS Instructional Services team at

Record and Publish Lectures and Presentations in PowerPoint

Record and Publish Lectures and Presentations Quick and Easy in PowerPoint (12/02/15)

Recording your lectures and presentations has never been easier, and you can do it all right within PowerPoint. In the time it takes to deliver a presentation live, you can have your presentation recorded and ready to share via Blackboard, YouTube or whatever your preferred platform.

This 4.5 - minute video explains the basic process for recording a presentation, making simple edits and publishing your presentation to an .mp4 video file.

For additional information and/or questions about multimedia resources, capabilities and solutions, please contact the Technology Learning & Media Center (TLMC) at or stop by and visit us in QBB 150C.

Smart Views and Groups

2 Great Blackboard Course Management Tools - Smart Views and Groups  (10/2/15)

Blackboard Smart Views and Groups can be created and used in any course or organization, but they’re especially useful for large courses or Master/Child courses!

Grade Center Smart Views
Create Smart Views (filters) to make the Blackboard Grade Center easier to manage. You’ll see only what you need to see!
Learn how to quickly create and use Smart Views

Use Blackboard Groups for Course Management
Create groups in large courses or Master/Child to:

Bb Manager and Master/Child Courses

New Tools for Fall Semester - Bb Manager and Master/Child Courses (8/13/15)

Bb Manager
Instructors - Use this new utility to create, copy and combine your Blackboard courses.
Visit the Bb Manager information page for instructions and links.

Master/Child Courses: Merged (Combined) Course Sections
Master/Child courses allow instructors to use the same content for multiple course sections.
Visit the Master/Child Course information page for instructions and links on how to use these new combined courses efficiently and effectively. Instructional Services is also offering short training sessions on Master/Child courses.
Visit our training page for information and to register.

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North Dakota State University
IT Help Desk Phone: +1 (701) 231-8685
Administrative Calls Only: +1 (701) 231-7961 / Fax: (701) 231-8541
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Last Updated: Monday, August 13, 2018 10:16:45 AM
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