Tips to overcome ‘spooky’ Blackboard

Osman Bien-Aime

Many of us regularly use Blackboard, so I don’t think it’s particularly controversial to say that the service is beneficial, and the ease of access it provides can’t be overstated.

But it’s October, Halloween’s coming up, and it’s the middle of the semester. I feel like sharing a spooky story. So take a seat, dim the lights, hold your paper close and prepare to be spooked.

It was a quiet Friday evening, and I was logging onto Blackboard to work on an assignment due that Sunday morning. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, as I went over the instructions for the assignment.

“Please go over the linked content and write a two-page paper explaining your thoughts on it.”

I’d been using the service for years, and as someone who’s taking a pair of Distance Learning courses this semester. I know how great it is as a platform for creating and managing classes.

“No sweat,” I thought.

But something wasn’t right. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find the linked content. There should have been something there when I clicked—something to go over and base my paper on—but it was nowhere to be found. No amount of refreshing the page could make it appear, either, and it was then that I came to the horrifying conclusion:

I had an assignment due on Blackboard in less than two days and no way to actually do it.

Okay, so maybe that story wasn’t spooky. After emailing my professor, the error was fixed and the due date was rescheduled, so there was no harm done. But when things like that happen, it’s easy to get a little worried a little panicked, even.

So, how can one achieve the least heart-pounding Blackboard experience?

Make plenty of time. It’s better to work on assignments sooner, rather than later. If an exam opens on Monday, and is due on Sunday, I try to have it finished by Tuesday. That way if something comes up I’m ready to take action.

Most importantly, if something does happen, contact your professor. They’re here to help, so  let them know if there are any problems, or if an extension might be needed for an assignment.

Blackboard is a regular part of our lives as students, and things are going to go wrong from time to time. But when the scariest thing is missing out on a grade, your best defense is preparation.