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Blackboard Best Practices

File Naming

  • Use only letters, numbers and underscores (_) in file names.
  • Don’t use spaces, commas, pound signs (#), question marks, equal signs, dashes or other special characters.
    Example: assignment#1.doc
  • File names should be 60 characters or fewer in length.

Discussion Boards

Slow Discussion Board Loading in Tree View
In the upper right corner of an open Discussion The Tree View and List View buttons.Board is a button called Tree View. Reviewing posted messages in Tree View allows you to see the more messages than List View, but it slows down the page loading. Switch to List View to avoid the slow page loading issue.

‘Select All’ Button Bug
Select All listing.If you are working in Tree View the Select All option doesn’t appear, as it should, at the bottom of the screen. To solve this click List View and then Tree View again and the button should appear.

Attachment File Names
File attachments to a Thread should not contain any special characters.
Word file that contains special characters.

Copying and Pasting to Blackboard
ONLY Copy/Paste from Notepad (PC) or Text Edit (Mac) into Blackboard and do NOT Copy/Paste text from MS Word, email, or web browsers. Underlying code from these programs is transferred into Blackboard and causes many problems.

Only use the two programs specified above to Copy/Paste when naming folders, Discussion Board forums, entering text in postings, creating test questions, etc.

To avoid this issue for during test creation, consider using Respondus.

Clear Formatting
Text formatted in other applications may copy into Blackboard with strange formatting such as characters where text had been. A quick way to solve this ‘mess’ would be to select the text and then click the Clear Formatting button on the Visual Textbox Editor (only available in Internet Explorer and Firefox).
Visual Editor Box in Blackboard.

Grade Center

Private Comments in Gradebook
You are able to enter Private Comments to students via the Gradebook by doing the following;

  1. Control Panel > Evaluation > Grade Center .
  2. After the grade is entered, click on the chevron next to the grade > select Quick Comment.
  3. Enter your comments. (The student can see Feedback to User and only you will be able to view the Grading Notes)
  4. Use Spell Check if needed.
  5. Click the Submit.
    Students can access comments through My Grades.

Renaming Errors
Renaming or deleting automatically generated Gradebook items causes errors when grading, viewing or downloading content. When you turn on the Discussion Grader, Blackboard automatically creates a Gradebook item for the graded forum. The Gradebook item name matches the name of the Discussion Forum.

Deleting a Discussion Forum Grade Name
Renaming or deleting Discussion Forum grades results in losing access to the grades associated with that Discussion Board.

Collaboration Tools
If you have problems loading Chat or the Virtual Classroom within the Control Panel try entering using the tools link in the Course Content Menu.

To add a Collaboration Tool to your Cousre Content Menu:

  1. Click on the blue plus sign
  2. Choose Create a Tool Link
  3. Name the Link, then Browse for the Tool
  4. Always check available to users if you want the users to be able to see the link in the Course Content Menu
  5. Click Submit

Course Health Check
The Course Health Check feature is a tool within the Control Panel.

You can choose to perform two different types of checks;

  1. The External Link Check verifies that your links to content outside Blackboard are live.
  2. The Invalid Character Check searches your course for characters that may prevent you from successfully exporting, copying, or archiving your course materials.

To run a Course Health Check:

  1. Go to the Control Panel.
  2. Click on the chevron next to Tools to expand the menu.
  3. Click on Course Health Check
  4. Click on the name of the test you wish to run.

Reporting Errors in Blackboard
If you encounter an error while working in Blackboard, please report it to ITS Tech Support (217-206-6000 or

Three pieces of information are important:

  1. Date and time the error occurred
  2. To capture the screen, press the “Print Screen” key (usually found on the upper right side of your keyboard), and then paste the image into your email message to Tech Support. (To paste the image: Press and hold the CTRL key, and then strike the “v” key.)
  3. Name of the Blackboard web server
    Blackboard runs on three web servers at UIS.
    The server you use is determined at random when you log in to Blackboard.
    To determine which web server you are using, click on Course Tools in the left navigation of the course, and then click on “Which Web-app Server.” You may also click on “Which Web-app Server” under Tools in the Control Panel of your course.
    The name of the server will either be,, or


More Info on Naming Conventions

File Attachment Names
If you use a special character to name a file attachment, you will get an error when you try to open the file. This is NOT the name of Blackboard item or folder, but the name of the actual file uploaded (, for example).

When you try to open the improperly named item, you will receive an “HTTP, Error 404, Files not found” error. The problem applies to files uploaded or attached by both instructors and students.

Instructors, there are two ways to address this problem. The student could rename the file without the special character(s) or space(s) and resubmit it. Another option is to contact OTEL, who will contact Blackboard administrators to have them rename the item in the database. Once the item is renamed in the database, instructors will be able to access the file originally submitted by the student.

Assignment Tool Assignments
If you use special characters to name your assignment created with Assignment Tool (Assignment #1, for example), you won’t be able to download all the student files at once.

The error will prevent you from downloading student assignments in a .zip file, though you’ll still be able to grade the assignments one at a time. Modifying the name of the assignment does not fix the issue. Assignments
Using special characters and spaces in assignment names and files submitted to causes errors in Blackboard database logs. The only way to avoid this error is to not use special characters or spaces in file names.