Support Bulletin: SafeAssign Performance Update

Below is the latest update from Blackboard on the concerns with the performance of the SafeAssign tool. Instructors should expect turnaround times for papers submitted at 3-5 days from the time of submission. Blackboard is advising that these extreme delays should be expected through the remaining days of the fall term.

Blackboard Administrators,

This message is intended to provide an update about a key concern over SafeAssign performance, and to set appropriate expectations about our actions to improve them. It’s also intended to confirm that we understand its seriousness and that it has the full attention and focus of our team at Blackboard.

First, the news. Usage of SafeAssign has been unprecedented. What we believed were accurate predictions about the performance under this level of usage during the fall proved to be too conservative. That said, the system remains stable, the quality of matching sources is unaffected, papers are being processed normally, and the processing speeds for individual papers are performing within range. The primary impact is on turnaround time for submissions due to a significant backlog of papers to process.

SafeAssign Performance Advisory: Clients should expect turnaround times for papers submitted at 3-5 days from the time of submission. We are advising that these extreme delays should be expected through the remaining days of the fall term.

The outlook: We appreciate very much the inconvenience this presents to our community, particular at this moment of semester end duties for faculty. We have recalibrated our gauge on the importance and utility of this service to our community and are shifting investment. We are already underway with efforts to produce significant improvements in our processing capacity ahead of the peak submission season in Spring 2012. We remain confident that with this additional effort that we can return queue lengths to normal levels in that span.

Support: There are no short term corrections to queue length that can be performed by our support team at this time. Instructors can still to choose to grade assignments absent the Originality Report and verify their evaluation once the Originality Report is available. However, if you have papers that have not received Originality Reports within 5 days their submission date or other concerns please do not hesitate to open a support ticket.

Yours Sincerely,

The Team who will personally ensure this is resolved:

  • Greg Ritter, Product Manager for SafeAssign
  • Kevin Wiggin, Development lead for SafeAssign
  • Tony Mandaro, VP Support
  • Jim Hermens, SVP Product Management
  • Jessica Finnefrock, SVP Development
  • Jay Robertson, SVP Managed Hosting
  • Ray Henderson, President Bb Learn
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Copying a Test for a Student Who Needs Extra Time

This tutorial will cover the steps to create a copy of a test for a student who needs extra time.  The situation where this would be used is when the student has a documented disability with the Office of Student Disabilities.

1. Navigate to the Control Panel located underneath the course menu.

Step 1

2. Click on the Course Tools link to expand the sub-menu.

3. Click on the Test Surveys and Pools link.

4. Click on Tests.

5. Select the test you wish to copy and click on the drop down arrow next to the test.  Click on Copy.

Step 5

6. Blackboard will make a copy of the test and call it the same name as the original.  The only different is a 1 in parentheses after the name.  A recommended practice is to change the name.  Click the drop down arrow next to the copied test and select edit.

Step 6

7. Change the name clicking the drop down arrow next to the test name and select edit. After changing the name, click on submit.

Step 7

8. The test is ready to be deployed.  Go to the area in which you want the students to access the test and click on Create Assessment and select Test

Step 8

9. Select the test from the list and set the settings for the Test.

10. Your test is available to all the students at this point.  The next step is to restrict to the student who needs more time.  Select the test with extra time and click the drop drown arrow.  Click on Adapted Release.

Step 10

11. Scroll down until area 2: Membership. If you know the student’s atlas username, type it in and click submit at the bottom of the page.  If not, click browse.

Step 11

12. Change Username to Last name and type the student’s last name in the Term box. Click on Go.

Step 12

13. This will list the student.  Click on the check box at the beginning of the student’s name and click Submit.

Step 1314. The student’s username will appear in the username box.  Click Submit at the bottom of the page.

Step 14

15. The last step is to hide the grade column for test with extra time.  This will help eliminate confusion from the rest of the class as for what the extra grade column is for. Go to the Control Panel and select the sideways arrows next to Grade Center.

Step 15

16. Go to the extra time test grade column and select the drop down arrow next to the column name. Select Show/Hide to Users.

Step 16

17. The student who takes the extra time test will have their score show up in the extra time test column.  The score can be manually entered into the non-extra time test column.

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Course Reports: Finding a Last Access Date for Withdrawn Students

Finding a last access date is easy for those students who are currently enrolled through the Grade Center column “Last Access”. What about for those students who are withdrawn from a course?

After a student is withdrawn they no longer show up in your Grade Center but you will need to enter a last access date for attendance to into Atlas.

Here are a few simple steps to find a student’s last access date for an online course through the Course Reports.

1. Navigate to the Control Panel located underneath the course menu.

Report Tutorial Step 1

2. Click on the Evaluation link to expand the sub-menu

3. Click on the Course Reports link

4. Click on the action link next to Overall Summary of User Activity

Report Tutorial Step 4

5. Click on Run

Report Tutorial Step 5 - Run

The Run Reports page will open. Go to the area 2: Report Specifications.

Report Tutorial Step 5b - Run Reports

6. Set the start date. (A recommendation is to use the first day of the term)

7. Set the end date. (A recommendation is to use the current date)

8. Select the specific user by clicking on a name.

9. Click on the Submit button in the lower right-hand corner.

 A processing screen will appear while the report is generated and the report will be opened. 

The access/date screen will display bar graphs dates on the Y axis.  This will display the last time a student accessed the course.

Report Tutorial Step 9


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New Feature! How to add a Test Student account in Blackboard

How to add a Test Student account:

After completing this tutorial you will be able to:

  • Create a Test Student Account
  • Enroll your Test Student in your current course(s)
  • View and participate in your course(s) as a student.

 1.       Navigate to the Control Panel located underneath the course menu.

Add Test Student Step 1

 2.       Click on the Course Tools link to expand the submenu

3.       Click on the Add Test Student link

The Create Test Student Account page will open the first time you access the Add Test Student course tool.  The system generates a default student account name. The account name is your Atlas username followed by an underscore and an s. Example: username_s

Add Test Student Step 3

4.   Type in your secure Atlas password (recommended) and confirm.

5.    The Enroll checkbox is selected by default

6.   Click Submit

A screen appears indicating you have created a Student account and providing you with 2 options:

a.      Unenroll Test User

Note: Unenrolling the test user will also delete all the work produced by this user

b.      Change Test User Password

Add Test Student Step 6

Adding your Test Student account to another course:

The Test Student Account: atlasusername_s  will be used for ALL courses you wish to enroll as a student inside BBLearn 9.1.  Remember to log in to the system as an instructor in order to enroll as a Test Student.

To enroll yourself as a Test Student in any of your courses return to:

1.       Add Test Student link under the course tool menu located at the Control Panel inside your course.

Add Test Student Step 1

The Modify Test Student Account page will appear prompting you to:

a.       Enroll Test User

b.      Change Test User Password

Add Test Student Step Modify 1

2.      Select Enroll Test User to add yourself as a student in your course.

Add Test Student Step Modify 2

3.      Repeat this process for all the courses you are teaching and wish to enroll as a student.

Changing Test Student password

If you use your Atlas password for your Test Student account, and change it later, Blackboard will not automatically update your password.  To change password, repeat the steps to access the Add Test Student menu under the control panel

1.       Click on link Add Test Student Step 1 2. Change Test User Password Add Test Student Step Modify 3


Testing the Test Student account

To test your Test Student account, logout of the course and log in using your Test Student Account

Important Note

This is a real student account and it is bound by the same restrictions as regular student accounts.  You will not be able to see or access a course before or after its availability dates.


If you have any questions or problems please contact us at onlinehelp [AT]

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Message Notifications Just Got a Lot Easier in Blackboard

A frequent enhancement request for Blackboard Learn 9.1 by our faculty and many other faculty around the country is the ability to see if you have a message within a course without having to log into each course. This would be especially helpful for faculty teaching a large load of courses using Blackboard and utilizing its Message tool for internal private communication.

Your requests has been answer with the installation of a new building block called My Messages. This new module finally gives you the ability to see any new messages in current courses on your own dashboard for Blackboard at Valencia and provides a direct link to the inbox within the appropriate course. This is available for all Blackboard users at Valencia; including faculty, staff, and students.

My Messages Module in Blackboard Learn 9.1

The entire LTAD team would like say a big THANK YOU to Bruce Tenison from Wallace State who created this building block and assisted with some last minute modification needed before we could go live prior to the start of Fall semester!

For other institutions interested in the My Messages building block it is available through OSELOT (Open Source Community for Educational Learning Objects and Tools)

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Blackboard SP6 New Features & Enhancements: Ready for the Upgrade?

Blackboard Learn 9.1 SP6 has been tested by Valencia’s LTAD team to upgrade our systems next week. Below are some of the new features and enhancements relating directly to teaching in learning, which includes the much anticipated interactive rubrics.

Upcoming Blackboard outage – Aug 8 & 9 Blackboard will be down for maintenance and upgrades during the following dates:

  • August 8th, 2011 – 7 am to 4 pm, and
  • August 9th, 2011 – 7 am to 4 pm

New Features & Enhancements – Teaching & Learning – Visit the Screenshot Gallery.

  • Interactive Rubrics: Enhanced rubrics are here to better support instructor efficiency in the grading process and convey expectations to students. The rubrics enable the efficient, consistent grading of manually graded student submissions and also facilitate secondary evaluations used to support program evaluations. The rubric is “clickable”, allowing for dynamic entry of feedback and ratings. When creating a rubric, instructors can choose from 4 types (percentage, point, point range, and no-point), as well as assign weights to categories. The same rubric can be assigned to multiple gradable items. Instructors can also opt to have the rubric viewable by students. Rubrics can be imported and exported for use across courses. Existing rubrics in ANGEL and CE/Vista 8 courses will be converted as part of the course conversion process with Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1.On Demand Videos
    • Creating a Grading Rubric
    • Associating a Rubric with a Gradable Item
    • Grading with Rubrics
      SP6 Interactive Rubrics

      • Needs Grading Tool Enhancement: The Needs Grading tool is a view in the Grade Center that instantly provides instructors visibility and access to items that need to be graded. Gradable Blogs, Journals, Wikis, and Discussion Board activity will now appear in Needs Grading status in the Grade Center and on the Needs Grading page. When an instructor chooses to make an interactive tool gradable, (s)he will also have the option to choose how many interactions will place the item in Needs Grading status. A Discussion Board forum, for instance, might be set to only appear in Needs Grading status after a student has made three posts, rather than with each individual post. The Needs Grading tool is also visible as part of the Needs Attention Module so instructors are alerted consistently with other gradable items.

      SP6 Needs Grading View

      • Timed Assessments Enhancement: This new capability provides instructors with an intuitive means of setting time limits on assessments and configuring the system to auto-submit the assessment at time expiration. Instructors can now choose to make the timed assessment auto-submit, or to allow the assessment to continue beyond the allotted time as in previous releases of the Blackboard Learn platform. Students are provided with visual cues to track their progress when taking and submitting timed assessments set to auto-submit. Attempt information for timed assessments includes details on how much time the student spent on the attempt versus how much time was allotted.

      On Demand Video

      • Setting Test Options (includes setting the timer for a test)
        SP6 Taking a test
      • SCORM Engine Integration: Through a co-development partnership with Rustici Software, a new SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) content player is integrated into the Blackboard Learn platform. This feature will provide users a stable and reliable platform for SCORM content. Along with the new content player, a new report is available through the course Control Panel to show student activity and progress within the SCORM package. With the SCORM Engine, there is now support for SCORM 2004 4th Edition.
      • Partner Integrations: McGraw-Hill Connect and Create Integration: Instructors will benefit from one-stop teaching and learning through the integration of McGraw-Hill Connect and McGraw-Hill Create directly within the Blackboard Learn platform. Customizable, dynamic educational content and tools from McGraw-Hill can be seamlessly used and integrated into the Blackboard Learn course environment to enhance and enrich the teaching and learning experience. Single sign-on and Grade Center synchronization deliver centralized, immediate access to course content and grades. Helps ensure compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), allowing students to benefit from additional privacy protection. This bundled Building Block applies to customers in Higher Education (English-speaking markets) and For Profit Professional Education.McGraw Hill Assignment Sample
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Blackboard Messages vs. Email

What are the different functions of Messages and Email tools in Blackboard Learn? This question often comes up among faculty new to Blackboard Learn 9.1, especially those who have migrated from the WebCT, with the terminology for Mail being the internal communication within the system.


Messages are private and secure text-based communication that occurs within a course and among course members. This would be similar to WebCT’s Mail feature within the course. Although similar to email, users must be logged into the Course to read and send Messages. Be aware at this time, there is no outside notification for any new messages within your course. You MUST check each course for new Messages.

Messages are a great way to utilize a private and secure communication tool within Blackboard for each specific course. This would help keep track of what course the student is asking questions about and keep a record of it within the course. Messages will be archived along with the course for any grade disputes in the future.  Folders can be created to help organize your messages within a course.


BB Mail vs Messages Send EmailInstructors and students can send email to all or selected individual Users, Students, Groups, Teaching Assistants, Instructors or Observers. From a Blackboard Learn course, email cannot be sent to anyone who is not a member of the course. The email will be sent to their Atlas Live@EDU account,

Instructors can utilize this to email students before the course begins or anytime during the course. Once the communications leaves Blackboard, any replies will be sent back to your email, not back into Blackboard. Once the communications leaves Blackboard, it will be your responsibility to organize and archive these email in your own Live@EDU account for any future reference.

Edit the ability to which students can email certain groups or individuals. Within the Control Panel > Customization > Tool Availability > Email dropdown for Email Settings > Uncheck the “Send Email To” availability for any area you don’t wish to give students access. This does not affect the instructor’s ability to send email.

BB Mail vs Messages Email Settings

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