Blackboard Student Information Guide
Blackboard can be a great tool for enhancing learning for both face-to-face and online classes and we want to make sure you have all the knowledge you need to use it effectively. Whether you need tips and tricks for getting started or you need specific instructions for using a particular feature, you've come to the right place!
Note - this document is for students. If you are an instructor, please see our Getting Started Tutorial.
This page has four main sections. To jump directly to a section, select a link.
- Getting Access to Blackboard - getting an account and logging in for the first time
- Navigation - my courses and course view
- Frequently Used tools - making announcements, contacting students, using the discussion board, sending and receiving assignments, creating tests and quizzes, and using the grade book
- Common Problems - course availability, receiving email, and downloading documents
Getting an Account
All members of the UK community, including all instructors and students, receive Blackboard access automatically. No special request is needed to log into Blackboard.
You will see all courses for which you are registered in the My Courses section of the My Bb page. If you do not see a course in which you are enrolled, please (1) verify that you are enrolled in the course in myUK, then (2) contact your instructor to ensure they are using Blackboard and have made the course visible to students. Although a Blackboard course is automatically created for all enrolled courses, not all instructors choose to use it.
- Accessing Blackboard (written instructions)
My Courses is an area that gives easy access to all of the Blackboard courses in which you are enrolled. Once you are logged in, My Courses will appear roughly in the center of your window. Simply click on the link of the course you wish to enter.
While your instructor can choose any page of the course to be the home page, you will frequently see the Announcements page upon entering the course site. If your instructor does not email these announcements to the class, you should check this page frequently to ensure that you are up-to-date on class activities.
Although instructors may customize their Blackboard course menu and content, here are some of the frequently used links you may see in your courses:
- Syllabus - look here for your official course syllabus
- Course Information - additional general information about the course
- Course Content, Course Documents, or Course Resources - often used to distribute course materials
- Assignments - instructions and assignment drop boxes
- Discussions or Discussion Board - discussion forums
- Groups - may appear if the groups or teams are part of the course, or to divide a large roster into smaller sections
- eReserves - links to content provided by the UK Library
- Class Capture - location for video lectures published using the Echo 360 lecture capture system
- My Grades - student gradebook
- Tools - a list of additional Blackboard features that your instructor has made available to you
- Help (UK) - a link to the Blackboard wiki page.
In each of your courses, there will be a link titled "Tools." From this link you can access all the available tools, including those listed below. For some of these tools, it will not be necessary to access the Tools menu each time, as your instructor will provide links to those which will be required most frequently.
Assignments is a Course Tool within Blackboard that allows Instructors to distribute assignments, and receive and grade students' completed work via an online dropbox. Assignments can have associated files, possible points, and due dates. Make sure to read and follow all instructions your instructor has given you before you complete the assignment. Certain types of assignments can be difficult to resubmit if you make a mistake.
To submit an assignment, click on the link with the title of the assignment. You will be shown the Assignment Information, which includes the title, instructions, due date, and points possible. You may either type your submission in the box or attach a document you have already created for this assignment.
It is generally recommended that you work offline and attach a file. If you lose internet connection, refresh the page, accidentally close the page, or experience any other interruption of your work while you are typing, you can lose all the content you have entered in the text editor.
The Course Content section, also sometimes called Course Documents or Course Resources, typically contains files your instructor has uploaded that will be important in the class. Examples include a syllabus, schedule, course outline, readings, slides, videos, assignments, rubrics, lecture notes, or links to other websites or resources.
- Accessing Course and Instructor Information (written instructions)
The Discussion Board is a Course Tool within Blackboard used to promote interaction and sharing of ideas within a course. Forums can be used for formal course-related discussion, questions or comments, or casual conversation. Discussion board forums may be graded or ungraded and each forum may contain one or more topics, each of which is called a thread.
- Discussion Boards (written instructions)
- Creating a Discussion Board Post (tutorial video)
- Creating a New Discussion Board Thread (tutorial video)
- Replying to a Discussion Board Thread (tutorial video)
- Organizing Discussion Board Posts (tutorial video)
- Viewing Discussion Board Grades (tutorial video)
The Send Email tool is useful when you want to send an email to a classmate, TA, or instructor, but do not know the person's email address. To access this tool, click on the Email link if your instructor has provided one. If there is no such link, simply click on the Tools link and scroll down to find the Send Email link.
Using this tools, you will have the option to send a message to:
- All Users
- This includes all students, instructors, and TAs.
- All Groups
- If your instructor has assigned students Blackboard groups based on project groups, section numbers, etc. they will be available here.
- All Student Users
- Sends to all classmates.
- All Secondary Instructor Users
- This usually refers to your TAs.
- All Primary Instructor Users
- Sends an email to your instructor(s).
- Select Users
- All students, instructors, and TAs will appear in a list. To select the recipient(s), click on their name(s) and then press the right-pointing arrow. You can remove recipients from the list by selecting names from the right-hand box and pressing the left-pointing arrow.
- Select Groups
- Same process as Select Users, but all members of each selected group will receive the email.
Note: Blackboard will not save a copy of any email you send. It will, however, send a copy to the primary email address you have listed in your account. It is recommended that you save this copy for your records.
- Sending Emails from Blackboard (written instructions)
- Sending Email From Your Course (tutorial video)
Tests and Surveys
Your instructor may require that you take an online test or survey through Blackboard. Though you may not have taken an online assessment before, the process is generally straightforward and easy to navigate. However, you should be aware that test styles may differ within a course, or between instructors. For example, assessments may:
- be untimed, timed but allow you to go over time for a penalty, or timed and set to automatically close when the clock runs out
- show all questions at once or one question at a time
- allow you to skip around, or force you to answer questions in the order they
- have questions in a variety of formats, including multiple choice, fill-in the blank, matching, short answer, essay, or other
- have questions that allow partial credit
- be automatically graded by Blackboard, or require manual grading by your instructor, or a combination of both
Before you take an assessment, make sure you've read all the instructions provided to you by your instructor and asked them any questions you may have about the assessment itself. You can also read these tips and instructions in order to avoid some common pitfalls.
If your instructor posts grades online, the My Grades link will show your progress in the course (sometimes a link will be available, but no grades will appear because the instructor uses a traditional gradebook). This information is available only to you and your instructor, unless you choose to show it to someone else.
In this tool, you can view assignment titles, points possible, and your score, as well as extra information regarding dates, times, and feedback the grader may have left on the assignment. If you believe a grade is incorrect, please contact your instructor as quickly as possible-- what you see is what you get. You are responsible for informing your instructor of any discrepancies, errors, typos, etc.
TurningPoint Clicker System
TurningPoint is an audience response system that allows audiences and students to participate in presentations or lectures by submitting responses to interactive questions using a ResponseCard clicker or other mobile or networked device. Your instructor may use TurningPoint to:
- Monitor attendance and participation
- Give short quizzes
- Provide review questions
- Check for general class understanding and attentiveness
Your use of this technology may affect your grade, so be sure to register your clicker properly. For each class using TurningPoint, go to Tools and find the TurningPoint Registration Tool. Follow the directions carefully-- you will be asked to enter the 6-digit identification code on the back of your clicker, and then again to confirm.
Clickers can be purchased online or at UK bookstores. See the TurningPoint Student Information for more details.
I can't see my class!
Contact your instructor. He or she may not have made the course available yet, or you may not be enrolled in the class. If you are not yet enrolled or are on the waitlist for your course, you will not be able to view the Blackboard course. Once you are officially enrolled, you should be able to view the course on Blackboard within two business days. However, if you are officially enrolled and the instructor has made the course available but you are still unable to see it, contact the UKIT Service Desk at 859-218-HELP (4357) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
My classmates are receiving emails from the instructor or automatic notifications from Blackboard, but I'm not!
Instructors may send purposefully send emails through Blackboard to share announcements and other information. Students may also choose to have automatic notifications sent to them when announcements, grades, or other content items are posted in a course, or when assignments or assessments are due.
If you are not receiving emails sent through Blackboard, you can check the email address that is associated with your Blackboard account. You can find this information on your Blackboard home page by clicking the "My Bb" tab. Below the image of a traffic light is a box of links; click on the one labeled "Personal Information." Next, click "Edit Personal Information" and verify the email address listed for your account. This information is automatically provided to Blackboard, so if it's incorrect, contact the UKIT Service Desk to have the address changed.
If the email address is valid, check your email spam folder. Sometimes, particularly if you are have your UK emails forwarded to another account, messages will be caught by your spam filter. If this is the case, you can change the spam settings according to your email provider's instructions.
If you want to check or change your course notification settings, start from your "My Bb" tab and click the "My Places" link at the top of page. If the pop-up window that appears, look under "My Preferences" and click the "Edit Notification Settings" link. You can edit your preferences for each course separately, or set your preferences for all your courses at once.
If you've checked your email address, spam folder, and notification settings and you're still having trouble receiving emails, contact the UKIT Service Desk for assistance.
How do I download files my instructor has posted on Blackboard?
Depending on the type of file, it will usually be on the Course Content/Documents/Resources, Course Information, or Assignments page. Click on the file name. If it does not begin downloading, right-click on the link to manually download the file to your computer. The download option may be listed as "Save Link As," "Save Target As," or "Download file," depending on your browser.
I'm having trouble accessing a PDF, audio, or video file posted on Blackboard, or I'm missing a plug-in!
Different browsers handle PDF and embedded multimedia files in different ways. Some will use a plug-in to display the file in the browser window, while others will automatically download the file to your computer.
If you are prompted to install a plug-in, try that first. If that fails, try right-clicking on the link to the file to see if you can download the file to your computer. The download option may be listed as "Save Link As," "Save Target As," or "Download file," depending on your browser. If it downloads, you can then open the file using a PDF reader or multimedia viewing program.
If the embedded file is actually hosted on another website, such as YouTube or SlideShare, try opening the file in a new browser window or going directly to the other website to view the content there.
If you still cannot display or download the file, try switching to another browser, such as Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, or Chrome. Chances are good that at least one of these browsers will allow you to access the content. If this fails, contact your instructor. If other students are having the same problem, the issue may be with the file, not your browser!
I have another problem entirely!
If your problem is specifically related to course content, contact your instructor.
If you are having technical difficulties or your instructor is stymied, first check to make sure you are using a supported browser and operating system, then contact the UKIT Service Desk! We are here to help!