Student FAQ

Blackboard Version 9.1 FAQ


Blackboard doesn't work on my computer at home, but it does work on other computers. What is the problem?
I cannot open some files from Blackboard using Internet Explorer.
How and/or where do you access the discussion board on blackboard?
How can I check my grades?
What is my email address in Blackboard?
How do I check whether my professor got the assignment I submitted?
How do I clear my browser cache?
What is the difference between a Blog and a Journal?
How do I enroll in a Blackboard class?
How do you upload assignments to Blackboard?
I can't upload a safeassignment to blackboard. I'm using Safari.
I changed my MSIE security settings, and now I can't log in.
I don't see my course in 'My Courses'.
I tried to login, but it's not working. What can I do?
I tried to use the Virtual Classroom and it didn't work
I'm having trouble viewing grades for my courses.
I'm trying to post documents to blackboard, but instead get an obscure error message. It says message.getMessage.
I've lost my course menu. All I can see is the course home page.
My professor said my class is on Blackboard. What does this mean?
What is Blackboard?
What is my Blackboard username and password?
What software do I need on my PC to use Blackboard?
When I go to my course, all I can see is the home page. I don't see my usual menu or control panel.
Why aren't all my courses listed in 'My Courses'?
Why do I get an error when I try to upload an attachment to blackboard?
Why do I still see my classes from last term?
Why doesn't my class for this term appear in blackboard?
Why don't I get any of the emails the class is sending me?
Why don't the classes listed include all the ones I'm actually taking?

Blackboard doesn't work on my computer at home, but it does work on other computers. What is the problem?
You can use either a Mac or Windows PC. The Blackboard system requires a fairly modern web browser, with cookies, Javascript, Java, and SSL enabled. Running a browser that does not support these, or that has them disabled in its settings, will result in login problems. If you suspect you may have browser problems, try logging in from a computer in the Library; if you can log in from the library but not from home, then it's definitely a configuration problem on your home machine. For a list of recommended browsers and operating systems plus configuration help see our Browser Setup Page. If the symptom is that you can't log in to Blackboard, then the problem is probably not your browser but rather your account or password. You can get further advice on browser configuration either from the Knight Library Computer Help Desk or from the Information Services Help Desk in McKenzie Hall. When you contact them, be sure you know what type of computer you have at home (Mac or PC), what version of the operating system, what browser and version you are running, and exactly what errors you are getting when you try to use Blackboard.
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I cannot open some files from Blackboard using Internet Explorer.
I.E.'s security setting may be prohibiting you from opening certain files. When you click on the document link, a security message bar appears at the top of the content window. Click on that bar and choose download file.


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How and/or where do you access the discussion board on blackboard?
If your instructor is using the Blackboard Discussion Board, then there should be a link somewhere in your course, but the precise location is up to the instructor. Some courses have a "Tools" or "Communications" link on the main course menu, going to a page containing a set of course tools including Discussion Board. Others may place a link to either the general discussion board system or a particular discussion in a content area of the coursesite. If you can't find the link in your course, ask your instructor.
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How can I check my grades?
Many courses use Blackboard to post grades. To see them, use "View Grades" in the Tools box on the My UO page. In most courses you can also find your grades by clicking the "Tools" link (on the main navigation menu) in your Blackboard coursesite. Then click "My Grades." Grades that are reported will vary from course to course, but may include:

  • Due date, and date grade was last edited
  • The actual grade, or a symbol indicating that the item has not been graded
  • Average assessment grade
  • Total number of points accumulated
  • Details about each Assessment
  • Information about the class average on each Assessment
  • Grade weighting

Some grades (online quizzes, "assignments," and safeassignments) have additional information associated with them, which you can get to by clicking on your numeric grade. When you click that link you'll see a list of all of your attempts, since instructors can allow students to take a quiz more than once if they wish, with the grades for the individual attempts.

  • For grades in Blackboard quizzes, the instructor may provide you with detailed breakdowns showing individual questions, correct answers, and comments.
  • For Blackboard online "assignments" (e.g. term papers submitted through a "view/complete" link in Blackboard) you can click the grade and see the professor's comments plus a copy of the paper as you submitted it.
  • For "safeassignments" (assignments with plagiarism detection), you can also view your originality report, indicating what sections of your term paper resembled another paper in the safeassign database.


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What is my email address in Blackboard?

  • Blackboard always uses your official Garrett College student email address (e.g. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) whenever the professor sends email to the class.
  • You must use your official Garrett student email to send and receive email.


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How do I check whether my professor got the assignment I submitted?
After you submit an assignment (the items with icons that look like a piece of paper, a ruler, and a pencil), you can check the status.

  • You can view your grades using the "View Grades" link on the My UO page. For any assignment in the course you'll see a row similar to the one on the left. The green exclamation means an assignment has been submitted but not yet graded. Don't bother to click "Details." Instead, click the exclamation mark or the grade to get more information about your attempt.


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How do I clear my browser cache?
Before clearing your browser cache be sure to log out of Blackboard and any other sites and then close and restart your browser after clearing the cache. Then, instructions depend on the particular browser:

For Internet Explorer:
Click on the "Tools" menu, then "Internet Options". Select the "General" tab and then click the "Delete..." button for "Browsing History". On the next windows click "Delete files..." for "Temporary Internet Files".
For Firefox:
First open the options menu. For Windows go to "Tools"->"Options". On a Mac go to "Firefox"->"Preferences...". Next, select the "Privacy" tab. Click on the "Settings..." button for "Private Data" and in the next window make sure that the box by "Cache" is checked and click "OK" to return to the previous window. Then click on the "Clear Now" button under "Private Data" to clear the cache.
For Safari:
Click the "Safari" menu and then "Empty Cache..."


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What is the difference between a Blog and a Journal?
The Journal tool and the Blog tool are very similar. The Blog tool is a public discussion whereas the Journal tool allows the instructor and the student to communicate privately. The student can post messages to the instructor and the instructor can then comment back. If the instructor wishes, the journal can be made public but it does not allow other students to comment.
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How do I enroll in a Blackboard class?

Online and Hybrid Courses from Garrett
Courses will open a minimum of 24 hours prior to the start of the semester. If it's a Garrett online or hybrid course that you're taking this semester, then you've been enrolled automatically. After logging into Blackboard, look under the "My Courses" heading. You should see links for all courses for the current semester that (a) you are registered for and (b) are using Blackboard. If your class is not on this list, and you've just registered for the class, allow 24 hours for your course enrollment. If it has been 24 hours since you registered for your online course and your course does not show up, Contact the Distance Learning Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 301-387-3155.
Online courses NOT host by Garrett (Maryland Online course)
If your course is hosted by another institution, you should have received information via the US Postal service and email (to you Garrett student email account) concerning login, instructor and textbook information. If you are registered for an MOL course and have not received information a couple of weeks, contact the Distance Learning Office (roomTC 630 at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 301-387-3155.
Face to face courses
Not all face-to-face Garrett courses use Blackboard. If you are registered for a course that uses Bb, you will automatically be enrolled. You should see the courses under My courses on your Bb homepage.
If it's not a UO course, then we don't automatically enroll students, but the professor can add your blackboard account.


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How do you upload assignments to Blackboard?
Blackboard has an "Assignment" feature (tool) that some instructors use to accept homework from students. This is typically used for essays -- where a student is assigned to write a term paper and then must submit the term paper through Blackboard. It's not the only tool that lets instructors accept essays. Blackboard also has online quizzes that can include essay questions, and a different tool, "SafeAssign", that combines homework submission with a plagiarism detector. The "assignment" feature is the simplest, though.

First, let's assume that you've written an essay or something similar that you've composed as a Word document, and that you have the Word document on your hard disk.

Next, you have to find the link that the instructor placed in the coursesite. It could be in the "Assignments" section, in "Course Documents," or someplace else. It will have an icon that looks like a piece of paper with a pencil and a ruler.

After that, follow the instructions in this short online tutorial: http://epirate.shu.edu/The%20Assignment%20Tool-Student%20V.9.pdf
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I can't upload a safeassignment to blackboard. I'm using Safari.
SafeAssign can be used with Safari with one settings change. You need to go to "Safari"->"Preferences...", click on the "Security" tab and change "Accept cookies" to "Always".
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I changed my MSIE security settings, and now I can't log in.
Due to a series of security problems with the Windows version of Microsoft Internet Explorer, many people are changing their security settings (from "medium" to "high"). Unfortunately, "high" security is so restrictive that it does not allow you even to log in to blackboard. You can change security options using the MSIE menu item "Tools->Internet Options...". Relevant settings exist on the "Security" and "Privacy" tabs, plus many settings on the "Advanced" tab will affect your browsing as well. For Security, we recommend that you visit blackboard with your Internet Explorer security settings at "medium". If you really need "high", then at a minimum go to custom levels, and make sure that you have allowed:

  • Downloads -> File download enabled
  • Scripting -> Active scripting enabled

You will probably also want (under ActiveX):

  • Download signed ActiveX controls prompt
  • Run ActiveX controls and plugins prompt

Note that the Security settings apply to specific "zones". Most people have their browsers configured so that blackboard is treated as being in the Internet zone (check the zone name that is printed at the right in the status bar at the bottom of the MSIE window). In addition, on the Privacy tab in "Tools->Internet Options..." we recommend that you surf with a setting of "Medium-High". If you need to surf with Privacy set to "High" then you must allow cookies from http://blackboard.garrettcollege.edu. You can also consider using Mozilla Firefox or some other more secure web browser.
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I don't see my course in "My Courses".
There are several reasons why your course might not be listed in Blackboard:

  • After you have officially enrolled in a course it can take up to 24 hours for the update to be made in Blackboard.
  • Your instructor might need to make the Blackboard coursesite "Available" to the class.
  • Your instructor might not be using Blackboard in your face to face course.

If you are sure you are correctly registered for the course and the instructor has stated in class that she or he is using Blackboard, then you might want to remind the instructor that it is necessary to make the Blackboard coursesite "available." If you continue to have difficulty, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
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I tried to login, but it's not working. What can I do?
You'll need your Garrett student login. It's a username, usually firstname.lastname, not a number, which gives you an email address and the username you'll need for blackboard. If you don't have one, visit ????? Next, make sure you're logging into http://blackboard.garrettcollege.edu, not http://www.blackboard.com, and use your Garrett College ID to log in. If your Blackboard account still does not work, stop by the Distance Learning Office in LC 630.
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I tried to use the Virtual Classroom and it didn't work.
The collaboration tools -- Virtual Classroom and lightweight chat -- both require that your PC or Mac have Java installed. As of fall 2009 Blackboard requires at least version 1.6 of Java, so you might have Java but an old version. If you try to enter the virtual classroom from a computer without a current version of Java, the system offers to download a more recent version, but that download can fail for a variety of reasons (not least being that you don't have privileges to install it on most computers in labs on campus). If you have your own PC, you can get the latest version of Java -- more recent and better than the one Blackboard tries to install for you -- direct from Sun. Go to http://java.com and look for the current "JRE" or "Java Runtime Environment." If you are a Mac OS X user you can download a usable version of Java using Software Update.
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I'm having trouble viewing grades for my courses.
You can view all of the grades that your professors have made available by using the My UO tab. On the left, in the tools section, click "View Grades." Occasionally when you view grades in blackboard you'll get an error message in one course. If so, it may be because of an error in the way the professor is recording the grades for online assignments. Report the problem to the professor.
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I'm trying to post documents to blackboard, but instead get an obscure error message. It says "${message.getMessage(0}".
Most likely your file name begins with a space. That's a common problem if you are a Mac user. Rename your file and make sure it does not have a space at the beginning. We recommend that files be given names that contain only letters, numbers, "_", "-", and embedded (not leading or trailing) spaces. They should also have file extensions that match their content, so a Word document should end with ".docx" or ".doc" as appropriate.
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I've lost my course menu. All I can see is the course home page.
If you visit a Blackboard site and discover that nothing looks right -- that all you see is the announcements or the "home page" for the site -- then the main menu, has been minimized. Look in the far left margin of the browser window, for a small ">" icon. Click it to restore course menu to the left column. You can minimise the left menu by clicking the "‹" between the course menu and the page content, then reopen it as above. Blackboard remembers your setting, and uses it next time you log in.
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My professor said my class is on Blackboard. What does this mean?
Blackboard is a web-based tool for teaching. It's easy to use both for faculty building an on-line course and for students. Blackboard can organize your class by hosting assignments, grades, discussion tools, course documents, and more. The Blackboard server can be found at http://blackboard.garrettcollege.edu. Different professors use blackboard in different ways. Some use it for their face to face courses as well as online and hybrid courses. They may post the syllabus or lecture notes, send email to all students in the class, organize class discussions using the discussion board, and post grades. If your course uses blackboard, the professor will give you more information in the syllabus or during the first few days of class.
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What is Blackboard?
Blackboard is a Web-based course-management system designed to allow students and faculty to participate in classes delivered online or use online materials and activities to complement face-to-face teaching. Blackboard enables instructors to provide students with course materials, discussion boards, virtual chat, online quizzes, an academic resource center, and more. The degree to which Blackboard is used in a course varies. For example, instructors may supplement an on-campus class by putting their syllabus and handouts on their course sites. In contrast, other courses may be conducted entirely through Blackboard, without any on-campus sessions. If you're enrolled in a course that uses Blackboard, be sure to find out how Blackboard will be used in that course.
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What is my Blackboard username and password?
All new Garrett College students get a student login, which is used for campus computers (like those in the Library), for Blackboard, email and the Student Administrative System (SAS) . Your login credentials will me mail via the postal service to your home address. Bring this with you to campus. You must also enroll in the Self Service Password Management. Go to http://sspm.garrettcollege.edu and click enroll. This service allows you to reset or retrieve a forgotten password.
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What software do I need on my PC to use Blackboard?
You need a network connection and a web browser, typically a recent version of Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari (Mac only). For details, go to the Blackboard Browser Setup and Plugin Information page.

You must have Javascript and Cookies enabled.

You may also need to download some plugins and viewers. The links can be found on the Blackboard Browser Setup and Plugin Information page.
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When I go to my course, all I can see is the home page. I don't see my usual menu or control panel.
Most likely your left column has been minimized in that course. Look for a small ">" icon along the left side of the window and click on it. That will bring the course menu back. When your menu is not minimized there's a small "‹" icon that you can click to minimize.
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Why aren't all my courses listed in "My Courses"?
Only the courses where a professor is actually planning to use blackboard are listed. We create all courses, but the professor has to mark the course as "available" for the students to see it. Sometimes a professor forgets to make the site available, and sometimes a professor combines multiple classes into a single merged site, so blackboard coursesites aren't necessarily named quite the same way as they are in the course schedule.
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Why do I get an error when I try to upload an attachment to blackboard?
This could be a problem with your browser (try using FireFox if you're using Internet Explorer, or vice versa), but the first thing to check is your choice of file names. To avoid all sorts of problems, any Internet file should be named using only letters, digits, dashes, and underscores, and should have file extensions that specify the type. So even if you're a Mac user, avoid files with names like "33 1/3%" or "Lecture Notes 2/2/04". Use names like "one_third.htm" or "lecture-notes-2-2-04.ppt" instead. Be especially careful to avoid spaces at the beginnings of file names -- they're easy to include by accident, and hard to notice unless you are looking for them. Keep the file name as short as possible.
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Why do I still see some classes from last term?
Occasionally, courses from last semester may be visable. The old classes will eventually disappear, typically at the beginning of the second week of the term. Classes for the new term appear when the instructor marks the blackboard site for the class as "available". This might occur before the start of the new term, or shortly after your course begins. Some face to face class do not use Blackboard at all. If you're enrolled in a class and the instructor has told the class that she or he is using blackboard, check to see if you can see the coursesite. If not, check with the instructor to make sure that she or he has made the site available.
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Why doesn't my class for this semester appear in blackboard?
It's possible you aren't actually registered for the course that uses Blackboard, or the professor for the course has not made her or his Blackboard site "available". It won't appear in the student's list of courses until he or she makes it available. Ask your professor whether he or she is using Blackboard for the course this semester.
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Why don't I get any of the emails the class is sending me?
Your blackboard account is automatically set up to send email to your "Garrett student email address", e.g. " This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ". You can read email sent to that mailbox by going to https:// students.garrettcollege.edu
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Why don't I see a class I just registered for?
This list gets uploaded to Blackboard about twice a day, however, it can take twenty-four hours for the registration information to be processed. So if you added a class today, your course will not show up in Blackboard until tomorrow.
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