Blackboard was upgraded last month to provide users with better performance and reliability. Get comfortable with the recent changes by reading our tips and solutions for some common tasks.

These are the top things you need to know:

  • The editor is more powerful, allows for distraction-free writing, dispels with the formatting nightmares of recent past, and allows you to make accessible materials easily.
  • The date management tool interface has changed.
  • Adding images, or anything you have stored on your local drive, is both a few more clicks and much more powerful.

New Editing Functions

The main change, other than anticipated speed increases, is the improvement to the editor. Blackboard is making use of TinyMCE and it’s about time! This editor is more powerful than previous versions and it feels much like other editors we use on a daily basis.

A big change — a plus for those of you who need to include code in your course — is the HTML view. Where might you have seen the TinyMCE editor before? Codepen, WordPress and more. It’s been around since 2004 with ongoing updates keeping it abreast of important issues like accessibility.

Here’s what it looks like:

TinyMCE editor

A few favorites of mine are the undo ↩ and redo ↪ buttons as well as the Tx clear formatting button. If you are used to hitting enter to get a new line, be wary, it will give you more than you bargain for. Use the preview icon (looks like an 👁 ) to save yourself a few steps before clicking the SUBMIT button. Just before you submit your work, consider clicking the person icon as your fastest way to check the accessibility of what you’re creating inside the TinyMCE editor.

Accessibility Checker showing a successful check

See the editor in action via a screencast on how to embed a Google Doc that shows the TinyMCE editor and how to modify your work to paste in the embed code for a Google Doc.

STEM instructors may truly enjoy the new “powerful but easy-to-use visual mathematics editor, the WIRIS Formula Editor, replacing both WebEQ and MathML.”1

There are 10 full sets of commands you can use to illustrate mathematical equations all packaged nicely in the TinyMCE editor. Click on the square root √ icon for more.

MathType showing enhanced options for STEM classes.

Adding media

Another quick item to address is how to add media. Click the edit button for the folder you are working with or when you are inside of the editor choose ⊕ and then select a file from your machine or one you’ve already uploaded into your course. The options are Insert Local Files and Insert Course Files, respectively.

Adding Zoom meetings

Blackboard screenshot showing tool availability

    1. Make sure the tool is available for you to use by navigating to Course Management > Control Panel > Customization > Tool Availability to check that “Zoom Meetings” has a check ☑ in the first column. If it does not, check it and click SUBMIT.
    2. Now turn on edit mode in Blackboard, click ⊕ from the top left, and select Tool Link.
    3. Click the newly created Zoom Meetings navigation on the left and then view “Upcoming Meetings” in the first tab. Or choose “Schedule a New Meeting” button top right.

In summary, just as before, you need to be able to troubleshoot items. Consider:

  1. checking what you are seeing in another web browser that you do not normally use;
  2. turning on tools you need by taking the steps shown in the Zoom section above; and
  3. be sure to reach out to OIT with questions and then book an appointment with an eCampus instructional designer.

Janene McMahan

Janene McMahan, M.Ed., is an instructional designer, Google Certified Educator, and adjunct faculty with 27 years of teaching expertise.

vjmcmahan@alaska.edu