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Author Archives: Kimberley Johnston

Testers, Testers – read all about it!

Calling all Blackboard users, administrators and gurus – I have an offer too good to be true. For many months I have been planning a new application to help administer Blackboard papers. Currently the system is a very manual one where users for example request a rollover of their paper, that request is emailed to the ITS Service Desk, who log the request and send it to the ITS Blackboard Administration team who in turn manually add all the information you sent through into another system. That’s at least 3 systems and a whole load of manual copying and pasting – over 60 clicks to be precise.

Drum roll please.

eLearning alongside the Application Development team have been slaving away to build the new Blackboard Paper Administration application which will let you manage your own papers. Request rollovers and have them complete within 15 minutes or request a new paper and have that in Blackboard in 15 minutes. Now, before everyone gets to experience this change I’d like to get some real testing done to make sure everything is as easy to use and understand as I’d like it to be. This is where you all come in – if you’re interested in helping out with the testing please fill in the form below. I am hoping to run a focus group session of about an hour (2pm Friday 2 December) and some one-on-one sessions where you get to use the new system and tell me what you think about it and what might benefit from some alterations.

Sign me up to be a tester!

Course Files and the Mystery of the Missing Space

Image of a detective with magnifying glassIt’s a classic tale of whodunit – you clear out all your superfluous files in your Blackboard paper and yet still you’re out of space. Let me introduce the culprit – Course Files.

Course Files is a handy feature of Blackboard unknown to most users. Course Files, put simply is an area where all the files from your Blackboard paper are stored. They are filed away nicely in folders that mimic your content areas (i.e Course Documents, Course Information). Once you add a new file to a course area it gets listed in your Course Files for you to reuse again and again in other areas of your paper. This reuse feature means you only have to upload a file once – saving your quota. The trap for young players comes when you decide to delete a few files. Dutifully you delete the files from your content areas to free up space but surprisingly nothing changes. The files are now missing and yet you still have no space to upload new files. Why? Course Files stores all your files like a big filing cabinet – deleting from a content area simply deletes the link to that file but the file itself remains in Course Files for you to reuse again in future. In order to free up space you need to remove the files from Course Files as well.

Removing files from Course Files isn’t tricky and it is a good idea to keep any eye on what’s in there – you don’t want to find you have ten copies of OtagoClocktower.jpg taking up valuable space. To view your Course Files area follow these steps:

  1. Log into Blackboard and open up your paper
  2. Click Files from the Course Management menu on the left hand side of the screen
  3. Then click your paper code
  4. This will open your Course Files area on the right hand side of the screen

To view how much space your files are currently taking up you can click the contextual drop down menu next to your Course Files title (will look like Files: COURSE_CODE – where COURSE_CODE is your paper code). Select 360° View and look for the Folder Size value.

The end of semester is the perfect time to review the contents of your paper and clean it up in preparation for a rollover – do you really need all those old files from 2005?



Blackboard Upgrade 2016

We would like to announce the upgrade of Blackboard for 2016. We have scheduled the upgrade to happen between 5pm Thursday 17 November until 9am Monday 21 November. This will mean that there will be no access to Blackboard during this timeframe.

This upgrade to Blackboard includes several behind the scenes improvements including a fix to the recent slow processing times for SafeAssign reports.

You can keep up-to-date with news about this update by following the ITS Service Desk notices ( and here on the eLearning blog (