Grade Centre: No scroll bar on a Mac

We’ve had a couple of queries from people who are Mac users, reporting that they can’t access Grade Centre columns because there is no scroll bar appearing.

Here is an example:

no scroll bar

where the  instructor can’t access columns to the right. He reports:

On the Mac display, when going to Full Grade Centre I get only a limited view of the columns and there is no scrollbar which lets you scroll across the screen. This problem does not arise with the Windows version.

If you are seeing the same issue, Blackboard support have provided the following advice, which has worked for anybody reporting the issue so far:

please try this on the Mac laptop

– go to System Preferences

– go to General

– and next to Show Scroll Bars, select Always.


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Feedback on Bb Student app

The Bb Student app became available just over 3 weeks ago. Without the marketing materials, we haven’t been actively promoting to students, but I did ask a couple of people to take a look.

One student, who has had difficulty in the past accessing Blackboard using his Windows device, has come back with the following review.


I’ve downloaded the app now and given it an initial inspection.

First reaction:

  1. It does work, at least in its basic aspects.  That is, it found NUIG, me, and my course information.
  2. It seems to integrate well with Windows phone and the various apps on it.  I was able to access word, powerpoint, pdf, jpeg, and audio files without difficulty
  3. It has horribly patronising emoticons at various points where you succeed in doing basic things, using American language (“Swell” – ugh!)
  4. I found the navigation might be a bit suspect.  The WP back arrow doesn’t always seem to take you back to where you think you started – haven’t fully understood this yet, so may turn out not to be an issue.
  5. The presentation of information is, in some ways anyway, superior to the web interface (at least as rendered by Firefox).  Navigation seems intuitive (Stream/Courses/Marks/Due Dates), and I like the fact that you can dismiss announcements (haven’t looked for this in the Web interface, but it was obvious on the phone).  I realise that there’s an interaction between what the software does and what the instructors do, so it isn’t all about the software.
  6. I can see that it will be really handy around classes and on the road – but it isn’t obvious that it will replace a desktop/laptop for serious study.

Hope this helps – hopefully I’ll be able to give you further feedback in the light of experience.


So, a cautiously positive reaction. This is the first version of the app, and the intention is to develop it further to include additional functionality. But it looks like it might be a good start.


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Viewing letter grades on mobile

We’ve just become aware of an issue where students are unable to view letter grades (which are being used for provisional results in some Schools) using the mobile app.

Although the instructor has entered a letter grade (in the Provisional column) and has made the column visible to students, the student may see nothing when viewing grades using the mobile app.

letter grade problem

The letter grade is, however, displayed properly when viewed on a web browser through My Grades.

The advice from Blackboard technical support is:

The issue in an outstanding problem that will be addressed in a future update to the Mobile building block. At this time I am afraid there is not an available fix, and the only workaround is to use the web to check the grades instead of the app. I apologize that there is no solution available at this time.

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Returning marks for visiting students

This is important information for anybody who is required to return marks for visiting students this month. At the time of writing I have unofficial word that the deadline for return of marks for visiting students is Friday 29th January, at 5pm.

To return the marks for visiting students you need to:

  1. prepare your grade centre for marks return
  2. enter the marks for any visiting students in the Final Mark column – this can be any number between 0 and 100, or INC
  3. approve and transfer the marks

To complete step 3:

  1. Go to Manage at the top of the Grade Centre and select Mark Approval and Transfer
  2. On the next screen, click Perform Extract

mark approval and transfer

I have created a very short video demonstrating these steps. Click on the link below to view:

Returning Marks for Visiting Students

You can perform the extract as many times as necessary up to the deadline. The last extract will be taken as the correct file.

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Organising your Grade Centre by Course Instance Code

The new Course Instance column in the grade centre gives you information for each student about which programme he/she is enrolled on. A missing course instance code may mean that the student is not correctly registered for a module, and students should be encouraged to check their registration details in that case.

However, the course instance column can also be used by you to organise your Grade Centre.

  • You can sort the list of students by Course Instance, which groups students from the same programme together.
  • You can create a view of the Grade Centre that contains only the students from a single course instance.
  • You can download a file from the Grade Centre that contains only the students from a single course instance.

To see how this can be done, I’ve created a short video that takes you through the steps involved. Click on the link below to view:

Using Course Instance Codes

Posted in Grade Centre, Grade Entry, ORE | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Visibility of Final Mark Column

We’ve had a couple of questions in the last day or two about the use of the new Final Mark column and whether it should be made visible to students.

Grade Return

The Final Mark column was created in the Grade Centre just before Christmas and, by default, it is not visible to students (note the little circle with the red/pink line).

The Final Mark column replaces the White Sheets for any module, and this is where you should put final, agreed marks for each student, to be returned to the Exams Office.

The Final Mark column should only ever contain a number (between 0 and 100) or INC for incomplete results.

Marks for overseas/visiting students for modules completed in semester 1 should be entered into the Final Mark column by close of business on Friday 22nd January, as per the email from the International Office.

In the past, white sheets were never made visible to students. Therefore, our recommendation is that the Final Mark is not made visible to students.

The Provisional column can be used, as per instructions from Academic Council, for communicating provisional or indicative grades to students for modules completed in semester 1.

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Return of Marks Checklist


One of our CELT team has created the attached checklist which may help you in entering your students’ marks correctly on Blackboard.

It’s a single page and can be printed out (or read online), covering the steps you need to return Provisional semester 1 marks to students at the end of January, and the return of Final Marks to the exams office in May.

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