You may not have notice but Blackboard has a new tool that may be useful for you especially if you want to keep track of those students who may possibly be at risk.  This new tool is call the Retention Center and it is accessible for all the courses that you teach from the top right hand side of the main Blackboard page under your name.

Here’s a brief overview of the Retention Center:

As the new term begins, get early insight into student performance. Check the overall academic health of your class in the main table and see who is struggling. With just a glance, find out who needs your help and drill in to see their specific areas of difficulty. Contact the most at-risk students immediately and flag those you want to monitor closely. As you observe their progress and send emails, you can also keep track of this correspondence and make notes about each student right in the Retention Center.

Tailor the default rules to suit your teaching methodologies:

  • Change the threshold for due dates to be more lenient.
  • Create two or three new rules to track specific items that are good indicators of risk.
  • Create rules to let you know which students are in the top five percent of your class and reward their work. You can use this information to discover student mentors, assign group membership, or find teaching assistants.

Use your course activity information to prioritize which areas of your course to attend to first.

The earlier you can discover and remedy problems, the more successful students become. They are more likely to finish your course and continue the program through to graduation—the ultimate retention goal for an institution.

Access the Retention Center

The Retention Center is automatically on and immediately visible in your My Blackboard menu, and also accessible in the Evaluation section of a course’s Control Panel. The information in the Retention Center is for instructors only and is not seen by your students.

You can turn the Retention Center on or off in your course from the Control Panel > Customization > Tool Availability. If you teach a course with another instructor, and turn off the Retention Center, you are turning it off for both of you.


You can stop or start tracking individual courses from My Blackboard. On the Retention Center page, click a course link in the left panel and use the tracking link in the right panel following the course name. Once disabled, warnings will no longer be refreshed, and Retention Center is hidden in the Evaluation section of the Control Panel in the course.

 CLICK HERE for further information on the Retention Center


Keeping Up

The issue of courses randomly making themselves unavailable for student access should be resolved.  If you continue to have issues please let me know.

There is something that has come to my attention that has changed the way students submit assignments through Blackboard.  Prior to this version there was always a submission box where student could type the work that they intended to submit and in addition there was always a button to click for attaching the work.

This addition of Blackboard has added an extra click to the process.  They have hidden the submission field behind an extra button click.  This has caused some students to write their work in the comments field of the assignment. *The comment field is the only open field that is actually on the page.

View of Blackboard student assignment submissionWhen the student clicks the highlighted button then they will get the actual submission field.  The button to attach a file is directly under the “Write Submission” button.  If you would like to post a video of the process to your course try this one:


This is more specifically for those use the Pearson My Lab products in their course.  It has come to my attention that Pearson now has an integrated lock down browser  for tests.  This tool is configurable by the instructor when they set up tests.  The problem that I want you to know  about is that this lock down browser will NOT function on the colleges new virtualized computing environment.  So if you want students to take tests/exams via Pearson you will want to do without the lock down browser.  You need to consider how many students take their tests/exams on campus.

Please also be aware that Internet Explorer and FIrefox are the preferred browsers for these test and that it will NOT work at ALL on tablets.

One last thing for those who elect to use Safe Assign when students submit work.  I have had a few people say that students are having issues with submitting their work.  Please do not forget to synchronize your course to the Safe Assign database like this:

This is not the only thing that would prevent students from submitting to Safe assign.  This is a note from Blackboard that contains at least part of an explanation:  “In Learn 9.1 SP 13 and earlier, ensure your browser’s cookies are enabled before you click Submit. If they are not, you will receive an error indicating either you are not logged in, your session has timed out or you do not have appropriate privileges. (In Learn 9.1 SP 14, you won’t even be able to navigate to the Assignments page if your browser cookies are not already enabled.).”  There are a couple of other things that may prevent submissions:

  • The lack of a file extension or an unaccepted file type.
  • Acceptable file types are:
    • DOCX
    • DOC
    • ODT
    • PDF
    • RTF
  • The use of non standard symbols in the file name.