Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blackboard 8 and IE8 - another strained relationship

When our lives intertwine and in the first rush of emotion, we promise to love each other forever. Then one or both of us changes. We can't help it.
It just happens.

And in that change, things go amiss, nothing is the same and it just doesn't work anymore. Broken compatibility. It just happens.

It happened with the the two 8s recently. Blackboard 8 and IE8. Reports are numerous of odd problems, large and small, when using IE8 with ASU's latest BB version. Until a new version of BB is released, ASU can only recommend that instructors and students USE A DIFFERENT BROWSER with ASU's version of Blackboard. The UTO promises to send out a message when an update is available that solves the problems reported. These problems include:
  • Small: A security warning that sometimes appears when logging into BB, asking whether you want to "view only the web page content that was delivered securely?" This question sometimes is also asked when instructors enter the Grade Center. Students and instructors should say yes, or log out and use another browser.
  • Large: Timer blocks submit button in an exam, making it impossible for students to submit exams. IE8 seems so buggy that it's been released with a "compatibility viewer button", allowing you to choose Web sites you know don't work in IE8, enter their address, then switch to IE7 compatibility mode. Students must know to do this BEFORE entering the exam or use another browser.
  • Large: Students get false message "Please enter valid file" when attempting to upload a valid file in the assignment feature. Again, IE7 compatibility mode will work, or use another browser.
From an ease of use point of view, despite your desire to make a previously lovely relationship work, the best advice is to always use a different browser with BB8 at ASU until we hear that an update has been received and installed on the BB server.

Especially if you're a student entering a "one time only" exam at ASU!

Students using computers at ASU campus sites have the option of using Firefox. The students should click “Start” on the lower left corner of the screen, then click on the link to “Firefox” to use this browser. Students using computers off-campus may download a free version of Firefox at

In online work, Blackboard, library or just visiting Web sites, "Use another browser" often solves 80% of your troubles.

IF the easy way isn't someone's style, or they only have IE8 and can't install another browser, here's ASU's advice on setting up IE8 Compatibility Viewer for ASU.

Reminder: If you're taking an exam, this must be done BEFORE entering the exam as your page refreshes and you're tossed out. IT'S TOO LATE if you're already there; you should have... used a different browser.

Friday, September 11, 2009

ASU Library toolbar rocks

ASU affiliates: If you haven't heard about it yet, download the toolbar that the Library has released for Firefox, IE and Safari. I'm hoping they'll keep going and release for Chrome, but right now I'll just rest in gratitude for great work done. You can download and install in seconds and it provides quick, configured access to their most popular and useful resources.

So lovely. So helpful for the digital scholar. The benefit isn't simply in having important resources like Google Scholar, the catalog and your account at your fingertips, it's that you're authenticated through the Library when you access the materials.

Here's a brief demo on the tool and why it can change how, and how quickly, you find the resources you need when you need them.

Happy scholarly journeys and W00t to the ASU Library.