Academic Technology @ Palomar College

I Can’t See It

In handling the hundreds of help requests concomitant to rolling out a new version of Blackboard and beginning a new semester, a typical sub-thread running through the support requests is “I can’t see the documents, or discussion post, or content area…”

There may be several reasons.  Let’s take them in order of importance, items 1 & 2 from the student perspective, 3 & 4 from the instructor’s perspective.

1.  I can’t get into Blackboard at all, and my teacher has emailed me saying I have to…

Those who cannot login at all must set a new password in Palomar eServices.  To do so, DO NOT login to eServices.  Rather, go to the eServices portal page and click the link on the right of the page “Forgot my Student ID# or password.”  Follow the on-screen directions to set a new password.  You should be able to use your 9-digit student ID number, and this new password, to login to Blackboard right away.

2.  I get logged in OK, but I cannot access my class.  It is listed in the My Classes area,but it says “unavailable.”  What do I do?

Contact your instructor.  If you know your course is supposed to be using Blackboard,but your course is unavailable, you instructor must make it available.  Remember, not all courses use Blackboard, but if your instructor has contacted you via email or in class and has told you to access Blackboard, and you can’t, then she has simply forgotten to make the course available to you.

3.  I have created a content area in my Blackboard course called “Handouts” (or whatever), and it is certainly there, I can see it just fine, but my students report that they cannot see it.  Why not?

When you originally created the content area in Blackboard, you had the option of making the entire content area Available to Users.

Unless you click the little check box next to “Available to Users” it will not be.  This makes sense because you will want to populate the content area with items, file links, URLs and other content before you release it for consumption.  You may forget, however, to make it available to your students. Therefore, always test the appearance of your course with Edit mode turned off so that you can see it pretty much how your students will see it.  (The Edit Mode switch is in the upper right of your screen ).  To really see the course through your students’ eyes, login to Blackbaord with your “faux” student account (using your 9-digit EMPLID as your username and your eServices password as your password).  You will notice in this view that you do not have a control panel and cannot do things you can do in the course as an instructor.

Another clue to you that a content area is not available to students is the little symbol next to it when Edit mode is on:  .

To make a content area visible, click the drop-down control next to it and select “Show Link.”

It is really simple, but easy to overlook.

4.  My students report they cannot open my documents.  Why not?

If all of your students are reporting this, or when you login with your faux student account you also cannot open them, then contact us right away via our web site.  If, however, only some students are reporting problems, it is probably a) a browser issue; b) the lack of the appropriate plugin or viewer; or c) the file format you have used.  To solve these problems:

a:  Be sure to use only certified or compatible browser when accessing Blackboard.  The matrix of certified/compatible Blackboard browsers and operating systems can be found in our Knowledge Base article on the topic.  We always keep this one up to date.  It may be that the browser you are using works just fine for most things, but if you are having problems viewing certain content the first thing to try is to be sure you are using a compatible or, better, a certified browser.

b:  The Downloads section of our help system contains links to common plugins and helper programs used in many Blackboard courses, and if you cannot view a video, for example, and do not have the Flash player plugin, install it and all should be well.

c:  Instructors should be aware, however, that not all students own Word or PowerPoint, and installing the free Microsoft Viewers and file converters is beyond the technology comfort level of many students.  As a best practice, you should save documents as PDF files before linking to them in Blackboard.  The free Adobe Reader is on virtually every computer in the world, Mac or PC, and this guarantees that your document will be readable by all of your students.

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