Tackling Common Issues in Blackboard Learn

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Avoiding issues while using Blackboard Learn can be challenging, but you’re in luck, because this article will address the problems we see most frequently and suggest how to avoid them. However, we encourage you to contact us should any of these issues occur, so we can assist you and get you back to your teaching and research tasks.


  • Issue: Accidentally copying the content from a master course twice
  • Problems it causes: Duplicate… content links, course pages, files that reside in the Content Collection, assignment/assessments, grade center columns
  • Reasons why it may happen: Performing a second course copy to get content missed during a prior copy. Forgetting that a course copy has already been performed.
  • How to avoid: First, make sure you make a checklist beforehand of what you know needs to move from the source course to the destination course. Second, if you believe you have already placed content into the destination course, double-check that what you are moving is not already in the destination course. Lastly, always check that the content moved successfully to the destination course.
  • Other tips: Make sure that the destination course you are choosing is the correct one; thus pay close attention to the year and semester in the course name, such as “Fall-2013-ENGR-10100-001”.


  • Issue: Requesting a course merge after starting the course
  • Problems it causes: Will hide any content that existed in a course before the merge. A course merge creates a completely new course and all of the old sections are “child courses”- which are invisible to students.
  • Reasons why it may happen: An instructor discovers the need for a merge after the start of the semester.
  • How to avoid: Consider the possibility of merging early in your course development, and contact us directly if you need to merge after the start of the term.
  • Other tips: Always review courses before requesting a merge, to check if content is already in certain sections.


  • Issue: Leaving Edit Mode Off
  • Problems it causes: Inability to see tabs for use in content creation, tool linking, and settings adjustment.
  • Reasons why it may happen: Using Edit Mode off is a quick way to see what is and is not available to students. You may simply forget to turn it back on.
  • How to avoid: Click Edit Mode back to “On” once you are finished checking item availability.

Location of the edit mode button inside a course.

A zoomed in view of the edit mode button location.


  • Issue: Mistaking credit sections for non-credit sections (a Blackboard course is created for every lecture, lab, recitation, etc.)
  • Problems it causes: Instructors believe they have uploaded content to the correct section, but students are unaware of which section houses the content and which do not.
  • Reasons why it may happen: A disconnect between the student and instructor when it comes to where content and materials are going to appear on Blackboard Learn.
  • How to avoid: Clarify during class time or on the syllabus that content and other materials/resources will be available in a certain course section. Make sure the section you are using has the correct # of students.
  • Other tips: Do not worry about this if your class only has one section. Also, you can simply have all of the lab or recitation sections merged; to request this click here: https://purdue.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_cFSMKabT1qcQdhj


  • Issue: Assuming content added to the course is available to students
  • Problems it causes: Students don’t see required content and are confused about whether they are clicking the wrong links, their browser is not working properly, etc.
  • Reasons why it may happen: Selecting the wrong options, forgetting to change the availability options so students can view material, etc.
  • How to avoid: Always check content area pages and specific content items using the “student view” option. For more information on using student view, click here: https://wiki.itap.purdue.edu/download/attachments/25640598/E06-ViewingYourCourseAsaStudent.pdf or for a how-to video here: http://youtu.be/wlPRUHvhvso
    • A screenshot of the content collection link and the content collection page:

Locaiton of the course's content collection in the course menu             Example of the content collection in a course


  • A screenshot of a typical content area page:

Example of a course content page


  • Other tips: If a student can’t find something, ask them to specifically state what they do/do not see and to send a screenshot if possible.


  • Issue: Misunderstanding “running total”
  • Problems it causes: A miscommunication on what is being counted towards the students’ grades. Students may not understand how their points/percentages are adding up.
  • Reasons why it may happen: Unawareness of the “Running total” option
  • How to avoid: All calculated columns in Blackboard Learn have a “Calculate as Running Total” option, which can be set to “Yes” or “No.”  If it is set to “Yes,” the total will only take into account those assignments for which a grade is entered.  As an example, if a student has only turned in 3 out of 4 assignments, and you haven’t yet entered a grade of 0 for the 4th, the total column would grade that student as if he/she were exempt from the 4th assignment.  As soon as you enter a grade of 0 for the 4th assignment, the total column would reflect all 4 assignments.  If the “Running Total” column is set to “No,” all 4 assignments are taken into account no matter what, and if a column is left blank, Blackboard assumes the student received a zero for that assignment.  For more information, click this link: www.purdue.edu/goldanswers/256359/
  • For a how-to on creating or editing a calculated column, please click this link for the print documentation: https://wiki.itap.purdue.edu/download/attachments/25640600/G09-CreateaCalculatedColumn.pdf and for the video here: http://youtu.be/8p_EGXI3mRg

Also, there is a difference between null and zero. Null means there is no grade at all and zero counts as the lowest grade.
Running Total only counts columns that contain a grade, but not those that are null.

  • Other tips: Try creating and organizing your grade columns and calculated columns before the start of a course for less stress during times of grading.


Again, we encourage you to contact us with questions and/or issues. Please look for a follow-up blog post in the future that covers more, common Blackboard Learn issues.

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