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Online Learning and Blackboard - Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains questions about online learning and some commonly asked questions about Blackboard.

Online Learning FAQs

1. When will I see my Fall (or upcoming semester) courses? OR When will I know when an online course starts?
Classes are available on Blackboard on the first day of classes, although some instructors set their courses to available earlier.
Online classes begin on the specific start date of your class schedule which is normally the start date of the semester. Check the academic calendar for the semester start dates. It is highly recommended that students login to their online classes on the semester start date.

2. How do I communicate with my instructor?
View your syllabus to find your instructor's contact information.  Your syllabus should include email address, phone, and office hours.  In addition, this information should be posted in your course site in Blackboard.  You can email your instructor through Blackboard by clicking on the Send Email link in the Tools panel after logging into the system.  Many instructors also use Blackboard IM for online office hours.

3. Will I ever have to come to campus if I take an online class?
Most online courses will not require campus participation, however, some instructors and courses do required proctored assessments.  Check the syllabus or contact your instructor if you have questions about campus requirements.

4. Where will I take my exams?
This varies depending on your instructor. Some courses will allow you to take your exams online at home. Other courses may require that you come to the testing center on campus to take your exams. Be sure to check your syllabus and communicate with your instructor if you are not sure.

5. What do I do if I need help?
If you need help with something related to the course such as an assignment or the content of the course, then you need to contaact your instructor for help. If you are having a technical issue, such as you are unable to upload a file, or you are getting an error message, then contact IT Support Help Desk.

6. Are there certain times when I need to be online?
This will vary from course to course. Typically, most interaction in a fully online course happens asynchronously with discussions or other activities which do not require you to be in the course at a specific time. Your instructor should tell you in the syllabus of the course if there are going to be any required online meetings.

7. How is the class taught?
Each online instructor teaches their courses differently. You might have recorded lectures to watch, readings, lecture notes, discussion board postings as well as assignments, tests and quizzes.

8. What type of technology do I need?
Visit the Technology Requirement page.

9. If I am new to online learning, what do I need to know in order to be successful?
If you are new to online learning, it is important to review the helpful tips and strategies on the Readiness web page.

10. What does an online course look like at GRCC?  Is there an example course that I can look at to see if online learning is right for me?
We have prepared a sample online course tour [PDF] for a brief overview of what an online course will look like at Grand Rapids Community College.


Blackboard FAQs

1. What is blackboard?
Blackboard is an educational software platform that provides a web-based means for taking online classes. With Blackboard you can access your class any time or place that you have an Internet connection.

2. Where is blackboard?
To get to GRCC’s blackboard go to www.grcc.edu then click on the blackboard link or type bb.grcc.edu in your browser's address bar.

3. I am new to GRCC, how do I set up my username?
Please watch this video on Blackboard login.

4. What is my blackboard login?
If you are a new student or have forgotten your blackboard login, go to bb.grcc.edu. On the front page there is an area called “Login Information” where you can find information regarding your login. Typically your username is your first and last name. Login help informtion is also available.

5. How do I change my password?
You can change your password in blackboard by going to the change password link in the Tools box on the left hand side after you log in, click here for instructions.

6. Why do I get a permission error when trying to open a file?
This error typically occurs when there is a problem with the file or the configuration of the course. Contact your instructor if you see this message, and/or submit a ticket with IT Support Help Desk.

7. What are all these new tools (Bb IM, Connect, Early Alert, etc)?

  • Bb IM, short for Blackboard IM, is an instant message tool for GRCC. Students and faculty can quickly communicate with each other for online office hours, tutoring, help desks, meetings, and desktop video conferencing.
  • Bb Connect enables users access to text messages and text-to-voice messages from instructors using Bb Connect and to opt-in to receive additional course notifications such as new announcements assignments, content items, tests, grades, unread discussions, etc.
  • Bb Mobile Learn is a mobile app for students and faculty. It can be accessed through the Apple, Palm, Android, and BlackBerry app stores.
  • More information on Bb Connect, IM, and Mobile tools is available here.
  • Finally, the Early Alert System is used to identify at-risk students and refer them to the appropriate advisor so that preventative action can occur - before the students withdraw or get too far behind in their coursework.

8. When are courses available on the system?
Semester-based courses are automatically set to AVAILABLE on the start date for the semester.

9. Where do I go for technical help?
For technical help, please contact IT Support Help Desk.

10. I got kicked out of my test now I can't access it. What do I do?
It depends on how a test is set-up. If you experience technical difficulties such as getting kicked out of the system, try to reaccess Blackboard and your test immediately, you may be able to pick right back up on the exam where you left off. If you are unable to reaccess your test, then contact your instructor to have the test reset.

11. How do I email my instructor?
You can email your instructor by clicking on Tools and Send Email within your course.

12.  What is My Content?
The My Content area allows students to load, update, and share content. The first time a user enters Blackboard a user folder is created. The “My content” area can be organized by the student according to their needs.

13. How do I get text messages from blackboard?
To get messages from blackboard follow these steps:

  1. Login into Blackboard.
  2. In the Tools area on the left hand side click on the Mobile Phone Preferences link.
  3. Sign up your mobile phone number under step 2.
  4. Click on Course Notifications to opt-in to various notification from your courses.

14.  How can I look at my grades?
To look at your grades go to your course and click View Grades.

    Click here to watch a video from Blackboard.

15. Is there a place I can save files through blackboard?
Yes, there is a tab in Blackboard called “My Content” where you can save files.

16. How do I submit assignments?
To learn how to submit an assignment please check out this video from Blackboard.

17. How do I take tests?
You go into the course. Go to the area your instructor has their tests. Click on the test. Then click Begin and answer the questions as best as you can.

    Click here to view a video from Blackboard.

18.  Is it good when I see a green box with an exclamation mark in it?
If any of your work submitted through Blackboard is not yet graded (such as quizzes or Assignments), you will see a green exclamation point. You can click on this icon to see information about your submission. The green exclamation point will turn into a grade once your instructor has posted a grade for that item.

19. How do I see feedback on a graded assignment?
Go to your course and click on view grades. On the right there is an area called comments where you can see feedback left by an instructor.

   Click here to watch a video from Blackboard.

20. How I find a draft posted I saved in the discussion board?
Go to the forum you made your draft in.
On the right hand side of the yellow area there is a Display setting. Scroll over Display and click on “Show all,” scroll through the list to find your draft post to edit and publish.