Category Archives: Life Hacks for Blackboard

Blackboard Grade Center Quick TIps

The Blackboard Grade Center can be complicated, but it is very important to ensure that all of the grades it contains are accurate. Here are some solutions to a few common issues that will keep your students’ grades correct and organized.

Enter Zeros When Work is Not Submitted

By default, the Total column in the Blackboard Grade Center will calculate as a Running Total, which ignores ungraded assignments.  What this means is that if a student does not submit an assignment, the missing points are ignored in the Total calculation. For example, if a 200 point assignment is not submitted the final grade becomes 800/800 instead of 800/1000. This can cause confusion for students who think they are doing well in class when they really aren’t and anger when the error is discovered once the course is over and the incorrect grade is changed. Because of this, it is important to manually enter a zero for every assignment that is not submitted.

Entering a zero grade is easy to do. Open up the Full Grade Center and look for assignments that don’t have a grade entered (the cell will have two dashes in it). Be sure to scroll all the way to the right, the Grade Center is typically much wider than your monitor can display. Click on the dashes of an ungraded assignment, type 0, and then Enter. That’s it! If you want to leave feedback with the grade, select the option to Grade User Activity and enter your feedback on that page. If you notice a student consistently not submitting assignments, reach out to them to determine why and to see if they need further help.

Before you submit final grades, it’s a good idea to take a look through all grades and enter a zero for all missing assignments.

Notice that the top student has the same grade as the bottom student, despite missing an assignment.
Notice that the top student has the same grade as the bottom student, despite missing an assignment.


Entering a 0 for the missing grade corrects the error.
Entering a zero for the missing grade corrects the error.


Calculated Columns

Most of the columns in the Grade Center directly correlate to an assignment, but a few are different. Apart from columns that display information such as a student ID number or last log in date, there are calculated columns. These columns display information that is calculated based on certain criteria and the relevant assignment grades. Every course has at least one Calculated Column, the Total. Many, but not all, courses include calculated columns for assignment categories, such as discussions or tests, enabling you to quickly see how students are doing in a certain part of your course.

One common point of confusion with Calculated Columns is that the number they display cannot be changed by clicking on the cell, as you would to change an assignment grade. When you’re trying to change a grade and clicking on the cell isn’t working, you may be selecting a Calculated Column instead of an Assignment. The only way to change the grade is to change the assignment grades that are feeding into it. To keep things organized, in OKWU online courses, Calculated Columns are always to the Left of the Total, and Assignments are to the right.

Calculated Columns are to the left of the Total, and Assignment Columns are to the right.
Calculated Columns are to the left of the Total and Assignment Columns are to the right.


Mac Bug: Grade Center Scroll Bar Missing

Mac users are commonly missing the scroll bar at the bottom of the grade center, which can make navigation difficult. The issue can easily be remedied in System Preferences on your computer. To get started click the apple in the upper left corner, then System Preferences. Next click General, and then change the setting Show scroll bars to Always. Close System Preferences and you’re done!

Further Reading

If you would like to learn more on how the Grade Center works or how to use it I encourage you to check out the Blackboard Help site, which goes into much more detail on every aspect of the Grade Center.

Blackboard Discussion Boards

Hello Faculty!

I’d like to give you a brief introduction on how class discussion works in the Blackboard Learning Management System. In an online class, the discussion board is the primary way students communicate and participate in class. For those of you who teach in face-to-face courses in the evening program, the discussion board can be a great place to share information during the week before class sessions or to help keep students engaged in class discussion after each class session has concluded.

The discussion board has two main components: the initial discussion question and the thread. The initial question’s purpose is to prompt students to think about and interact with what they have been learning and to share those ideas with the rest of the class. The thread is the conversation that takes place: one student answers the question, another replies, and it keeps building from there. Here’s how it all works.

Each week there are typically three discussion questions: two directly related to the course content, and one spiritual life question, which ties the course content with a devotional. Students are usually required to respond to the initial questions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, while responding to their classmates’ posts throughout the week, with a minimum of two replies per forum. You are encouraged to join in the discussions as well!

Each question has its own forum in the Discussion Board, but the initial discussion questions are found in the Weekly Discussion Questions folder within each week’s lessons in Blackboard. Unfortunately, Blackboard doesn’t have a place to put the questions in the forum. The question titles in the Weekly Discussion Questions folder are links to the forum. The Discussion Board can also be reached through a link on the sidebar.

Once in the forum, students answer the question by starting a new thread. They give their thread a name and type their answer to the question, keeping in mind that they need to prompt a further response from other students to keep the conversation going. Students are required to write 250 words minimum for their initial post, and the only type of APA format required is for any sources referenced. After the post is completed, other students will read and respond, writing 150 words minimum and again asking questions to keep the conversation alive.

Once a student has written at least three posts, you will receive a notification that their contributions are ready to be graded. You can either grade through the Needs Grading tool the Grade Center, or grade all users in the forum by opening it and clicking “Grade Discussion Forum” on the Action Bar.