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Blackboard Trouble-Shooter Guide

NEW!! 24/7 Blackboard Support now offered!
Call our toll free number at 866-940-1926 or visit our support website!

New login changes as of January 2011:

  • Click on the Blackboard Access link at the bottom of Sierra's homepage.
  • Be sure to click on Current Blackboard Login button on the right side of the screen.
  • Use your MySierra username AND password to login to Blackboard. If you change your password in MySierra, it will also change for Blackboard.
  • If you have trouble logging into Blackboard, use the password reset tool provided for MySierra to have your password reset and an email sent to you with login info. (Check your spam/junk folders in your email if you don't receive the followup email.) Login Reset Tool

For those of you having problems in the Blackboard system, this page has been created to help you trouble shoot your computer settings. Please click on one of the problems listed below for trouble shooting steps, and contact our 24/7 support service above, or email Sierra College Distance Learning if you cannot resolve the problem after trying all the suggestions.

Many of these issues can be resolved by going through the
Browser Tune-up if you are using Internet Explorer.

Issues with Logging on

Clearing your Browsing History to refresh the page

Cannot see my Classes Listed in Blackboard

Using Respondus Lockdown Browser for tests

Pages not loading properly or hanging up

Issues with taking tests & quizzes

Text field problems in the Blackboard

Cannot see my postings in the Discussion board

My Text changes the format after I type it in Blackboard

Cannot paste my text from Word into the text field

I cannot upload files into Blackboard

The instructor cannot open my text document/attachment that
I created in Windows Vista

I do not have PowerPoint on my computer & can't view the
PowerPoint files on Blackboard


Issues with Logging In:

  • ACCOUNT ACTIVATION:
    Student user accounts are automatically activated throughout the day for the current semester. If you have just registered or added your first class, it will take approximately
    3-4 hours to have Blackboard access. If you are registering for a future semester, those accounts aren't uploaded until approximately 2-4 weeks before the semester begins.

  • BLACKBOARD SITE ADDRESS:
    Please note that you can either click on any Blackboard links on Sierra's webpage, in MySierra, or on Distance Learning's website. To go straight to our Blackboard site, go to URL http://online.sierracollege.edu
  • LOGON USERNAME:
    Use the same username and password for Blackboard as you do for MySierra. Please note that this is no longer your student ID#. If you change your password in MySierra, it will also change for Blackboard.
  • PASSWORDS:
    If you can't remember that password, please use the Password reset form.

  • All on-ground courses will have Blackboard shells, although not all instructors will utilize this. If you see some of your courses listed but not others, or some are unavailable, please contact your instructor to verify whether or not they are using Blackboard.
  • For Online Math courses, please go to the math website at http://math.sierracollege.edu,
    as they do not use Blackboard.
  • We have computer labs on campus that you can use with a student ID card, obtainable through the ASSC office, if you do not have access to your own computer.
  • Check to be sure that your firewall settings are not prohibiting you to log on to secure servers. Sometimes businesses will set up firewalls in a way that prevents you from being able to log in through your work computer. Check with your network administators if this is the case, and try on your home computer if you can't use your work computer.
  • Sometimes certain pop-up blocker settings prevent you from logging into the Blackboard system. Check your pop-up blocker documentation for the proper settings, or disable the pop-up blocker before you log into Blackboard. Call the help line for the pop-up blocker application you are using to see if they know of any conflicts.
  • Many "free" programs or graphics install a toolbar on your browser, which can cause problems with logging in. You can disable these by right-clicking on the toolbar and selecting "exit" or "disable". Some of these "free" toolbars can cause other harmful activity, however, such as phishing (obtaining your internet activities) or hijacking your browser to their website, or even reporting false virus infection. Be sure to have a current version of an antivirus running at all times, such as MacAffee or Norton.
  • A free anti-malware tool that you can use to check for unwanted hidden programs is Spyware Terminator, found at http://www.spywareterminator.com/. Download and run this tool and delete any bad items that it finds, and this usually helps to clear up other issues related to browsing the internet.



CLEARING YOUR BROWSING HISTORY TO REFRESH YOUR SCREEN

  • Your internet browser might not be refreshing the screen, which could cause login problems or other issues such as not seeing your recent grades posted. Follow these instructions to clear your cached temporary files and modify the settings.
    • Blackboard works best with Internet Explorer. If you are using Internet Explorer, click on the Tools menu item, and then Internet Options.
    • Remove all the old cached internet cookies & temporary files stored on your computer, which are files from various websites that you have accessed and are stored on your hard drive to make surfing the web faster, but once your storage quota is filled, you could run into issues, so it's good to clear these out every so often, by doing the following :
      • Internet Explorer 6: Click the buttons Remove Cookies & Remove Files, and Clear History.
      • Internet Explorer 7: Click the button Delete under the Browsing History section, and in the next window select Delete All at the bottom.
    • Once those files are cleared, go into the Privacy tab, and click on the Sites button. Be sure that Blackboard isn't in the list that shows any blocked sites. If it is, click on it and hit Remove. Once finished, click OK.
    • From the same Privacy tab window, click on the Advanced button to check your cookie settings. In the next window, check the box to Override Automatic Cookie handling. Be sure that you also check the boxes for Always Allow First Party Cookies and Prompt for 3rd Party Cookies. Finally, check the box for Allow Session Cookies. Click OK to close that window.
    • You can sometimes find Pop-up Blocking settings at the bottom of the Privacy tab window - verify that Blackboard is not a blocked site by clicking the Sites button, or temporarily turn off this feature while in Blackboard.
    • To have the settings take effect, hit OK to close all the windows, and close Internet Explorer. Then open the browser back up and try to log on again.
    • If you still have trouble, check with your Internet Explorer help files or your ISP
      help line to see if there are other issues affecting your connection.
    • Another option is to try using Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome which seem to have good compatibility with many websites that Internet Explorer can't view properly.

  • If you are still having trouble after verifying the URL, username, and password, then please contact the Distance Learning dept by emailing the webmaster or calling (916) 660-7255.

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Cannot see my Classes Listed in Blackboard

  • If you can log into Blackboard, click on the Courses tab. You may see your classes listed there as unavailable, which means that the instructor just hasn't made them available to students yet. This usually will happen on the first day of the class, but if not, email your instructor to find out when they will make it available.
  • If you still do not see any of your current or upcoming courses in the Courses tab, be sure that you are going to the correct Blackboard site. Other colleges also use Blackboard but they are on different servers & won't have your account information or courses. Our site is at http://online.sierracollege.edu.
  • It does take a few hours for your registration to process and come through to Blackboard. If it's been over 6 hours and you still don't see your course listed, be sure that you are logging in with your account by verifying the other courses you see listed, and then also verify that the registration processed completely in MySierra.
  • Also remember that your course is usually not available to you on Blackboard until the first day of the semester.

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Pages not loading properly or hanging up

  • If you are experiencing browser hang-ups or pages not fully loading, especially when
    there is multi-media content, your browser might not have enough space allotted on your hard drive to load the content. You can increase this space by opening up Internet Explorer, click on the Tools menu, then select Internet Options at the bottom of the list. In the General Tab, click the Settings button under Browsing History. Another small window will appear that shows the space allotted to your Tempoary file storage. The default may be 256 MB, so try increasing it to 512 or 1024 MB to see if that solves the loading issues.
    Hit OK to close all the windows, and then close your browser so that the new settings can take effect.

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Issues with taking Quizzes & Tests:

  • Click here for helpful tips on taking Online quizzes & tests in Blackboard

  • Please note that there is a known compatibility issue with Internet Explorer 8 when taking tests - it causes the timer bar to cover up the Submit & Save buttons. You will need to use a previous version of Internet Explorer, or a different browser such as Firefox or Chrome, to take tests in Blackboard.

  • If your instructor is using the Respondus LockDown Browser, please click here for more information.

  • If this is an online Math class, you may need to install a plugin to see the math equations on the quiz. Click here for more information.

  • Generally, your instructor will set quizzes and tests so that you only have one attempt. If you get locked out during a test, or can't open it at all, then later when you go back and it says you've already taken the test, this is why. Immediately inform your instructor of your computer issues so that they can release the attempt, then you can try and retake the test. Before retaking the test, go through the steps listed below to modify your browser settings so that you don't get locked out again. If you'd rather, you can come use the computer lab on campus to take your tests during lab hours.

  • Your internet settings may be causing your computer to lock up during quizzes, or not display them at all. Follow these instructions to clear your cached temporary files and modify the settings.
    • Blackboard works best with Internet Explorer. If you are using Internet Explorer, click on the Tools menu item, and then Internet Options.
    • Remove all the old cached internet cookies & temporary files stored on your comuter by clicking the button Remove Cookies and Remove Files, or Remove Browsing History, depending on the version you have. (These files are from various websites that you have accessed and are stored on your hard drive to make surfing the web faster, but once your storage quota is full, you could run into issues, so it's good to clear these out every so often.)
    • Also be sure to hit the Clear History button if there is one on that version, which also frees up space in your temp file storage quota.
    • Once those files are cleared, go into the Privacy tab, and click on the Sites button. Be sure that Blackboard isn't in the list that shows any blocked sites, and if so, remove it. Once finished, click OK.
    • From the same Privacy tab window, click on the Advanced button to check your cookie settings. In the next window, check the box to Override Automatic Cookie handling. Be sure that you also check the boxes for Always Allow First Party Cookies and Prompt for 3rd Party Cookies. Finally, check the box for Allow Session Cookies. Click OK to close that window.
    • You can sometimes find Pop-up Blocking settings at the bottom of the Privacy tab window - verify that Blackboard is not a blocked site by clicking the Sites button, or temporarily turn off this feature while in Blackboard.
    • To have the settings take effect, hit OK to close all the windows, and close Internet Explorer. Then open the browser back up and try to log on again.
    • If you still have trouble, check with the Internet help files or your ISP help line to see if there are other issues affecting your connection.
    • Another option is to try using Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome which seem to have good compatibility with many websites that Internet Explorer can't view properly. You can download both for free from their perspective websites.
  • Check to be sure that your firewall settings are not prohibiting you to log on to secure servers. Sometimes businesses will set up firewalls in a way that prevents you from being able to log in through your work computer. Check with your network administators if this is the case, and try on your home computer if you can't use your work computer.

  • Sometimes certain pop-up controls prevent your test window from coming up properly. Check your pop-up control documentation for the proper settings, or disable the pop-up controls before you log into Blackboard. Call the help line for the pop-up control application you are using to see if they know of any conflicts.

  • We have been made aware of some technical problems with certain computers when they use AOL version 9. You can call your ISP help line to see if they can resolve these problems. You might also try another computer that doesn't go through AOL version 9, to see if that solves your problem. We have computer labs on campus that you can use with a student ID card, obtainable through the ASSC office.

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Text field problems in Blackboard:

If you have problems with, or do not see, the text field when trying to post a comment in a text box on Blackboard, then it's most likely due to your browser missing the needed plug-in. You might see a pop-up blocker bar at the top when you get to the posting window of the Discussion Board. This bar will be pale orange or yellow, and is usually located at the top of the screen under your browser icons. Click on the bar and follow the directions to install the Active X control needed to post, and that should resolve the problem. Another plug-in that might try to install will bring up a gray window and asks you if you wish to install the application - go ahead and select Yes, or select Always to not have the window pop up every time. These are plug-ins needed by Blackboard for the text editor fields.

If you do not see an orange bar or if it does not work, you can try going through the Brower Tune-up from Blackboard to modify Internet Explorer's settings.

Click here for the Browser Tune-up.

Another option is to disable the Visual Text Box Editor in your Personal Info settings in Blackboard, so that it will not try and run the plug in. You will get a plain text box field that you can type into, but you won't be able to format the font color, style, etc. To do so, go into the main screen in Blackboard, then click on Personal Information in the left side menu, then click on Set Visual Text Box Editor Options. In the next screen, select No, and hit submit. You can easily set it back to yes later, if you wish. Click Here for a video of how to change your Visual Text Box Editor.

If for some reason none of the above resolves the problem, (and this seems to be common with the new Windows Vista systems), try using the browser Firefox or Google Chrome, which can be downloaded for free.

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Cannot see my postings in the Discussion board

A common occurance is that a student types up a post and then hits Save instead of Submit. This will cause your post to be treated as a Draft and not a Post, however it's not gone. You can retrieve it by changing the Filter from Published to All or Draft. To post your draft, you need to open it so that you can see the Save/Submit buttons at the bottom, and then hit Submit.

If you are running on the new Windows Vista operating system, you might run into this problem where you can post in the Discussion Board but do not see the text once the posting is submitted. This is due to some compatibility issues with the Vista program and Blackboard, which will most likely be resolved at a later date via updates from either company. For now, if you disable the Visual Text Box Editor in your Personal Info settings in Blackboard, that should solve the problem. (You will get a plain text box field that you can type into, but you lose the font formatting options such as color, style, etc.) To do so, go into the main screen in Blackboard, then click on Personal Information in the left side menu, then click on Set Visual Text Box Editor Options. In the next screen, select No, and hit submit. You can easily set it back to yes later, if you wish. Click Here for a video of how to change your Visual Text Box Editor.

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My Text changes the format after I type it in Blackboard

If you are copying and pasting from a Word document into a text field in Blackboard, and when you are done, the formatting of the text is changed from the way you had it, it is due to the html code that is written automatically every time something is modified in Blackboard. You can get around this issue by creating a Web Page file in Word, copy the html code of that text, and then paste it directly into the text field in Blackboard by toggling to html mode. Click on the links below to see short videos on how to do that. (Be sure your sound volume is turned up)

Copy html code from Word doc (do this first)
Paste html code into Blackboard text field

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Cannot paste my text into the text field

It is a great idea to type up your text in a word or notepad document first, before posting on Blackboard, just in case your connection freezes or times out. However, sometimes you will find that when you go to paste into the text field in Blackboard, the paste icon and menu item are dim and won't let you select that function. You can usually get around this by first copying your text, and then click inside the text box in Blackboard so that you have a blinking cursor, and paste the text by pressing the Control key & the V key on your keyboard simultaneously. If that still does not work, try copying smaller amounts of text at a time. You can also use the keyboard method to copy, by pressing the Control key and the C key at the same time.

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I cannot upload files into Blackboard

There is a known issue with Firefox 3.0 and it's compatibility with Blackboard. The user will receive an error message when trying to upload a file, even if it's a file type that's acceptable to Blackboard. The solution is to use Internet Explorer to upload files, rather than Firefox 3.0. Older versions of Firefox do not appear to have this issue.



The instructor cannot open my text document/attachment

To take an online course, you are required to have an application on your computer that will create ".doc" or ".rtf" files. Windows Office has the Word program that will create ".doc" files by default, however with the newer version of Office 2007, it has come to our attention that this program creates a file with the extension of ".docx". If you have Office 2007 and find that your documents are saving in this newer format, try saving the document in an older format of Word by clicking on File, then Save As, then scroll through the format box until you find the older Word versions. You can also Save As a Rich Text Format, which will create a ".rtf" file that the instructor can open. If you do not have Office, or another program that creates ".doc" or ".rtf" files, you can download a free word processing program from www.openoffice.org.

Instructors - if you can't open .docx files, there is a patch from Windows!

In Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft added new Open XML formats to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007. Files that are created in the Open XML format are not readable by earlier versions of Microsoft Office (such as Microsoft Office 2003, or Microsoft Office 2000).

In order to view and manage files created by Microsoft Office 2007, (.docx), you will need to install the following compatibility pack. This download will enable users on earlier versions of Microsoft Office to open, edit, save, and create files in the new Open XML format.
Install MS Office Compatibility Pack

Microsoft has created a knowledge base article that discusses required updates, issues that may be encountered, and changes that are made to the Office programs when the compatibility pack has the installation is complete. The article can be viewed here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/924074

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I do not have PowerPoint on my computer & can't view the PowerPoint files on Blackboard.

If an instructor has a PowerPoint file on Blackboard that you are required to view but you do not have PowerPoint installed on your computer, then you will need to install the Microsoft PowerPoint viewer. You can install it from this link:
Install PowerPoint Viewer
.

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If you are still having trouble after going through the above steps, then please contact the Distance Learning dept by emailing the webmaster or calling (916) 660-7250.

 

Visit the Sierra College website Return to the Distance Learning Home Page Find out who to contact in the Media Department Frequently Asked Questions Read the Distance Learning Student Handbook! Televised Courses Visit the Sierra College homepage Questions?  Find out who to contact... Frequently asked questions Read the Distance Learning Student Handbook Return to the main Distance Learning page Shortcut to current course listing