W&M’s Blackboard system is available 99.98% of the time. While that’s a comforting statistic, it doesn’t help when you’ve scheduled a critical test and the system experiences issues. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to make sure Blackboard tests go smoothly.
1. Give a Practice Test
This will ensure that your students understand how to enter the test, answer questions, and view their score. A practice test will also expose any problems with Internet access in your classroom.
2. Check the Wireless in Your Classroom
For large classes, consider creating a test that can be completed outside of the classroom. While the W&M wireless system is designed for large-scale use, tests work better on a wired connection. As an alternative, you could hold your test in a computer lab or allow your students to take the test from an different location.
3. Take the Test Yourself
Instructors can take any exam by clicking on the name of the exam and continuing on to the test. Opening the test gives you a chance to read all of the instructions and to make sure that any images are displaying correctly.
4. Don’t Use the “Force Completion” Option
Selecting “Force Completion” as a test option means that once an exam is started it must be completed in that session. This option automatically submits an exam at the end of the exam period, regardless of the student’s progress on the test. If a student loses their Internet connection, has to leave the test because of a medical emergency, or accidentally begins the test before they intended to “Force Completion” will still submit the exam.
If students experience a problem during the test and wishes to start over from the beginning you can clear their test attempt by taking the following steps:
- Go the Full Grade Center
- Go to the cell for the student (row) and the test (column)
- Click on the dropdown arrow to open the contextual menu
- Click “View Grade Details”
- Click the “Clear Attempt” button
5. Ask Students to Log out of Blackboard on Other Devices
Instructing your students to log out of all instances of Blackboard before the test begins can help prevent technical issues. Problems can occur when students are logged in via their phone, mobile device, and laptop at test time.
6. Have Students Double-Check Their Browsers
Ensure that students have 1) cleared their browser history and 2) have at least two browsers installed. Also, let them know that Blackboard often has problems with Internet Explorer – so make sure that students have another browser option as well, such as Safari, Chrome, or Firefox.
7. Have a Paper Copy of the Test
You should always have a hard copy available, just in case. To copy your test:
- Click on the test name to enter the test
- Select all of the content
- Copy the content (Control + C on PC, Command C on the Mac)
- Open a Word Document
- Paste the content (Control + V on PC, Command V on the Mac)
I’m currently working on a set of webpages for our W&M students and another set for faculty that will discuss all of the test taking options and more best practices. If there’s anything I missed above, or you’re experiencing problems, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.