Author Archives: admin

Copy an Old Course into a New Course

If you’re re-using course materials from a previous term, the easiest way to get the content and activities from an old course into a new one is to copy the course. To copy a course, go into the old course (the one with the materials you want to copy), and click the PACKAGES & UTILITIES heading in the Control Panel menu.

Follow these steps to copy an old course into a new course: 

1. Under the Packages and Utilities heading, click Course Copy.



2. Make sure Copy Course Materials into an Existing Course is selected.

3. Enter the Course ID into the Destination Course ID box.



4. Select the course materials that you would like to migrate over to your new course.

5. Under the Course Files heading select the appropriate setting.


6. Click Submit.

Note: Copying your course materials may take some time, so please be patient. However, if you do see the “SUCCESSFUL COPY” message at the top of your course site but still have some missing content, contact IDS directly for help at 313-578-0580 or

Create and Edit Tests

Assessment helps faculty members evaluate student understanding of course material.  Tests in particular can provide a way of measuring student performance, and enhance the overall effectiveness of your course.  The Assessment section of your Blackboard course site in the Content area allows you to create three different types of student assessment: Test, Surveys, and Assignments.

This tutorial will focus on the basics of test creation.  While tests are held in a Test Manager portion of your course site, individual tests are deployed in a Content Area and managed there.  A column associated with the test displays automatically in the course Grade Center.  Because of this, it is beneficial to review all aspects of assessment in order to obtain a complete understanding of the value this feature can provide.

See the tutorial on Deploying Tests and Surveys for further information on test creation.

Note: View and grade submitted tests in the Grade Center.

Follow these steps to create a Test:

1. In the Control Panel Box, click on Course Tools. Then click the Tests, Surveys, and Pools link.


2. Click Tests.


3. Click Build Test.  

4. Enter a name for your test, and add a description and instructions in the boxes provided on the page that follows.

  • If you have already created your test, please see the tutorial on “Deploying the Test” for more information.



5. Click Submit. You are now ready to create questions for the test!


Follow these steps to create Questions for your test:

1. Navigate to the Test Canvas screen. You will automatically see this once you have clicked the Submit button after creating a test or you can navigate to it using the instructions in the section on Editing an Existing Test below.

2. Select a question type from the Create Question drop-down menu.




3. Type your question text and add the answer selections (if needed) to create a question.

4. Select the appropriate question options and add question feedback if you would like to use that feature.

5. If you are planning on reusing the question in another test and want a way to reference it later you can add a category, topic, or keyword. You can also mark the level of difficulty. Click Add, type in the category, topic, level or keyword, and click Submit to do this.



6. If you would like to create another question of a similar type click Submit and Create Another. When you are completely finished  with that type of question click Submit.



7. On the Test Canvas screen, type in the point value for the question.


8. Repeat steps 2 through 7 until you have finished adding questions.


How to Edit an Existing Test

1. In the Control Panel Box, Click on Course Tools. Then click on the Tests, Surveys, and Pools link.

2. Click on the Tests link.

3. Click the down arrow next to the test you’d like to modify. You need to hover over the name of the test for this down arrow to appear.



4. Click Edit.



NOTE: Do not attempt to make question changes to the test if it is already deployed.

Test Manager

Tests created in Blackboard are held in a section of the course called the Test Manager (accessed through the Course Tools section of the Control Panel).  When a Test or Survey is deleted from a Content Area, it is still available for future editing, deployment, export, or removal from the system within the Test Manager.

NOTE:  Blackboard recommends that an Assessment first be made Unavailable before considering deleting it from a Content Area.

For more information on creating and using tests, surveys, and pools, please see the corresponding tutorials for each topic.

Deploying a test

Once you’ve created a test (if you’re not sure how, check out this video walkthrough), you’ll want to add it to a content area in your course so students can take it. To get started, navigate to the content area of your course where you’ll want students to find the test. Then, point to ASSESSMENTS and choose TEST.


build - testOn the CREATE TEST page, select the test you wish to add from the ADD AN EXISTING TEST list, then click SUBMIT.

select-testOn the TEST OPTIONS page, the test’s name will be pulled in automatically. If you’d like, you can change how the test’s name appears to students on this page. A name change here will not change the name of the test in the test manager. So, if you have a test in the test manager named 2015 Module 01 Test, the test manager name will be the same even if you take the year off the test on this options page.

You can also use the color picker to change the color of the link students will click to launch the test. If you’re not sure about how to use the color picker, check out this brief walkthrough.


The CONTENT LINK DESCRIPTION box appears next. Students will see this text before launching the test. If you included a description on the test, it will be pulled into this space automatically. You can change any information pulled into this space, or add new information.


The next couple fields, TEST DESCRIPTION and TEST INSTRUCTIONS, will only appear if you have added a description and / or instructions on the test. The content of these fields can only be edited by going back and making changes on the Test Canvas. Checking their respective boxes will make that content appear after the student has clicked the link to launch the test, but before actually beginning the test. If you do not check these boxes, the information will appear after the student has launched the actual test.

description-instructionsThe last basic option is the choice of whether you want the test to open in a new window or not. We recommend only choosing to have “open book” tests open in a new window.

new-windowNext you’ll need to choose whether you want to make the test available. As with other content items, if you want to make the item available at a later date, choose YES here, then specify the DISPLAY AFTER date and time later on this page.

make-availableIf you choose to add a new announcement for the test, an announcement will appear when the test becomes available. The text of this automatically generated announcement simply announces that a test was posted and what folder the test was posted to. We recommend editing this announcement to provide greater detail or creating your own announcement.

Announcement text

Announcement text

If you’d like students to be able to submit the test more than once, check the MULTIPLE ATTEMPTS box. When MULTIPLE ATTEMPTS is selected, you may choose to allow the students UNLIMITED ATTEMPTS (the default), or select NUMBER OF ATTEMPTS then enter a number.

If you choose to allow the students multiple attempts, you’ll need to decide how Blackboard should score the test in the Grade Center. The SCORE ATTEMPTS USING pulldown gives you several options to choose from, including most recent (“Last Graded Attempt”) and even an average of all graded attempts. Choose the scoring system that works best for how you want the item scored from the list.

multiple-attempts-gradingIf you want students to complete the test in a single sitting, check the FORCE COMPLETION box. If you do not check this box, students will be able to close the exam without submitting, then re-open the same attempt and continue to answer questions later.

force-completionIf you’d like to set a time limit on the test, check the SET TIMER box, then enter the time limit in minutes in the MINUTES box (so if you’d like the timer set for an hour and a half, enter 90 in the MINUTES box). Timed tests have a timer box that stays onscreen the entire time students are taking the test, and an alert box pops up when test takers have one minute remaining. NOTE that if you do not choose force completion, the timer will start running when students launch the exam and stop when students SUBMIT. So if a student launches the exam, closes it, and re-opens and finishes it a day later, the timer will indicate the student has taken over 24 hours on the test.

Next, you must choose whether or not you’d like the exam to auto-submit when time expires. If you go with the default (Auto-Submit turned off), students will be able to continue to take the test after time expires. In the Grade Center, you’ll see an exclamation mark icon instead of a score, indicating the student has gone over the time limit. You will then be able to view the student’s attempt to see how much time they actually took to complete the test. If you are going to use this option, we recommend you make it clear, either in the test description or in the syllabus (or, ideally, both) how you plan to manage exams that run over time. You’ll probably want to indicate a number of points you’ll be taking off based on the amount of time students have gone over the limit (e.g., no points for less than a minute, equivalent of a question off for the first minute, another question off for each additional minute, etc.).

The alternative is to turn Auto-Submit on. If this option is selected, students will be given a one-minute remaining alert. When the time expires, the test will save and submit automatically.

set-timerThe DISPLAY AFTER and DISPLAY UNTIL dates on a test work the same as they do on any item. Check the boxes to activate a the date / time limiter in question, then enter the date and time you want the item to appear after and / or until.

date-timeIf you’d like, you can also limit access to the test to only people who have a password which you’ve created. To limit access this way, check the password box, then enter the password you plan to distribute to valid test-takers in the password box.


In the past, some faculty have used the password option to make a test available to individuals after the official test-taking period has ended, or, in course sites that include both graduate and undergraduate students, to make sure only the grad students launch the grad exam and only undergrads take the undergrad exam. The Test Availability Exceptions feature makes it easier to manage this sort of situation. Even better, Availability Exceptions make it possible to extend the time limit on an exam to individual students with disabilities.

To set an availability exception, first click the ADD USER OR GROUP button.

add-groupIf you’re looking for a specific user or group, use the search box to track them down. You can also browse the whole list of students and groups by leaving the search box set to ANY and NOT BLANK.

search-not-blankAdd use the check boxes on the left of the name of the user or group you wish to add an exception for, then click SUBMIT at the bottom of the pop-up window.users-groupsEnter the options for the exception, including number of attempts, timer, and date range of availability. Remember, if the you’ve selected NO under MAKE THE LINK AVAILABLE, then the availability exceptions will be ignored here as well. If you’d like to remove an availability exception, click the X on the right of the exception.

exception-optionsIf you add a Due Date and time, it will appear on the students’ calendar. As the descriptive text for this option indicates, submissions after the due date will be accepted but marked late (this presumes you do not use a “DISPLAY UNTIL” setting to have the test disappear from the content page after the due date). If you select the “DO NOT ALLOW” option, late submissions will be blocked entirely.

due-dateThe defaults under “Self Assessment Options” are what will work best for most tests and quizzes.  The default selection, “Include this Test in Grade Center score calculations” means just that — the test will be considered part of the total grade for the class. If this is a practice exam or self-assessment which you do not want to factor in, uncheck this box. The second option is a little more tricky. If you select “HIDE RESULTS COMPLETELY”, then scores for this exam will be hidden from the instructor. Note that if you select this option then unselect it later, Blackboard will delete all student submissions. So only select HIDE RESULTS if you will never want to see the students’s scores for this test.

self-assessmentThe SHOW TEST RESULTS AND FEEDBACK TO STUDENTS section determines what feedback students get on the test and when they get it. By default, students will see only their score on the test after submitting (provided the test includes only self-scoring items — if your test includes, for example, an essay question that must be scored manually, students will see “! out of 60″ instead of an actual score). If you’d rather students not see any feedback on submitting their test, uncheck the SCORE PER QUESTION box. on the first line. OR you can select only another time for when feedback is presented from the pulldown list. Note that if the default “AFTER SUBMISSION” is selected on the first line, students can go back to look at their score (and whatever other feedback options you’ve selected on this first line) at any time, via their MY GRADES page entry for the test, or by clicking on the test link again (should it still be available in the course). If you’d like students to only have access to this information once, select ONE-TIME VIEW. But remember, students can always print, screenshot, or even take a photograph of this results page for future reference.

Some faculty like to have students get only minimal feedback on submission, then more detailed feedback after the window for taking the test has closed. If you’d prefer this set up, either set the first line so only minimal feedback is presented and use the second line to have more detailed feedback (such as all answers, the correct answer, the answer the student selected, correct / incorrect feedback, and / or whether the student got a question wrong). Or use the WHEN pulldown on the first line so feedback is only presented later, say when all the tests have a grade, or after the due date.

If some of these options seem redundant (submitted & incorrect questions, say), consider some of the possible permutations. By selecting only CORRECT under answers, the student will see all questions and the right answers, but be shown neither which answers they chose, nor whether they got an answer wrong. On the flip side, you may show which questions they answered incorrectly by checking the last box, but by leaving the answers boxes unchecked the student will only see the question — leaving it up to them to research the correct answer. OR you could show the students the question and their submitted answer, meaning they’ll see which option they picked (correct or incorrect), but not the correct option on questions they answered incorrectly. The feedback system is fairly robust, and you have a lot of options for what you’d like students to see, depending on the type of assessment in question.

feedback and resultsThe last section is Test Presentation. Here you can choose whether the students will see all the questions onscreen at one (the default), or only one question at a time. If you choose to show only one question at a time, you can also prevent students from backtracking, which means a student only gets one chance to answer each question. Question-at-a-time tests are a little more secure than All-at-once tests, as it’s a bit more difficult to capture a full exam when only one question is visible at a time. However, this presentation method also makes it difficult for a student to skim through the test, responding to questions they have more confidence in before responding to questions they find more difficult. test-presentationFinally, you have the option to randomize the questions on the test. If you’ve created a test from multiple pools of questions, this will shuffle up the pools, meaning students won’t be working their way through related blocks of questions. We generally recommend randomizing tests unless the structure of the test really requires that the questions be presented in a particular sequence.


Once you are done, click SUBMIT to save these options. If you need to make any changes to the test’s options, click the options button that appears beside the test’s name when you mouse over it.

options-buttonThen choose EDIT THE TEST OPTIONS



Grading Periods in the Grade Center

Grading Periods are an efficient way of managing your Grade Center so you only see certain groups of columns at one time. This can be particularly useful when trying to manage a very large Grade Center. As the name suggests, Grading Periods are primarily geared toward clustering columns chronologically. You might use Grading Periods to separate items graded before and after the midterm, or you might use a grading period to collect all the columns associated with module 1 in the course, then another for module 2, and so on. Faculty interested in more sophisticated view management (narrowing to particular categories, users, performance criteria and more) should check out check out Smart Views instead.

To create a Grading Period, go to your course’s Grade Center, point to MANAGE and choose GRADING PERIODS.

To create a new Grading Period, click the CREATE GRADING PERIOD button at the top of the page.

On the CREATE GRADING PERIOD page, you’ll need to enter a name for your new Grading Period. Any name will do. You can provide a brief description for the Grading Period if you’d like but this will only be available from inside the course’s Grade Center, making it useful if you plan to share your course site with other faculty or if you think you might need your memory refreshed when revisiting this course in a future term.

There are two types of Grading Periods: those that are applied manually and those that are based on the due dates applied to Grade Center columns. If you’ve been using due dates on your columns, applying your new Grading Period by date may be the easiest way to go. To apply this Grading Period to a date range, choose RANGE under the DATES heading, enter start and end dates, then check the ASSOCIATE COLUMNS box to apply the period to all columns that have due dates in this range.

Click SUBMIT at the top or bottom of the page to finish creating your Grading Period.

Applying a Grading Period

We can apply our new Grading Period to Grade Center columns by going back to the Grade Center proper, pointing to MANAGE and choosing COLUMN ORGANIZATION.

Now select the columns you want to move into a Grading Period by clicking the checkbox to the left of the column name …

… then point to the CHANGE GRADING PERIOD TO button at the top or bottom of the page and choose the Grading Period you wish to apply.

Viewing a grading period

To view your grading period, you’ll need to return to the Grade Center proper.  First, we need to turn on the FILTER menu. So from the Grade Center, click the FILTER button in the upper right …

This will add a filtering menu right beneath this line of buttons. Point to the button to labelled CURRENT VIEW (likely, this will say FULL GRADE CENTER) to access a broad menu of filtering options. Select the Grading Period you want to use, and your view will instantly be filtered.

Paste from Microsoft Word Tool

Using text pasted from Microsoft Word can produce inconsistent formatting of your in Blackboard materials. These inconsistencies can appear as misalignment, different fonts, or general unwanted visual results. This new option available in Blackboard will correct this issue allowing you to safely copy and paste from Word. The tool attempts to maintain your formatting that the applied in Word but you may see slight differences as it translates the formatted text to an Internet friendly format.


1. From any text editor in Blackboard, click the Mashup icon (See #1).
2. Select Paste from Word (See #2) from the drop-down menu.

3. Paste any text copied from Microsoft Word in the new window that appears (See Below). You can use the keyboard shortcuts (Window, CTRL-V or MacOS CMD-V) to paste text or right click your mouse and use cut and paste menu items.
4. Click Submit. Your text now appears in the text editor. You can now review the text in the Text Box Editor for edits or any additional formatting.

Page 1 of 3123