Frequently Asked Questions

File Sharing

In most cases your instructor is going to ask you to share documents or images for your assignment submissions, but you can also share videos, audio files, and other types of media.  

  • When attaching a file saved to your computer, make sure it is a document all of your classmates can open and is no larger than 10MBs.

    For example, if you want to share an image of yourself that you edited using Photoshop (a .psd file), you cannot attach it because most people do not have access to this software. You can save the image as a .jpeg, which is a universal file type that any computer can open regardless of what software is installed.

    Also, you should not attach the photograph if it is larger than 10MB. You will have resize the photo before you attach it.
  • In some cases, you are going to want to share a web link, also known as a URL.  This is great if you have created something that is accessible through the Internet. File size is not an issue with sharing links, although you will want to make sure that all of your classmates have access to the webpage you want them to see. For example, you cannot share a link to an image on your Facebook page because you do not know that all of your classmates have a Facebook account (plus, you would have to make your image public to anyone and not just your friends).

    You can upload a video to YouTube and set the permission so anyone can view it. No account is necessary to see a YouTube video and anybody (your classmates and anyone else, for that matter) can view your work.

    Remember - don’t post anything on the Internet that you don't want your mother, pastor, grandparents or future employers to see!
  • In some cases, you are going to want to embed code for online content. This is only going to be done on rare occasions. See the instructions below on how to embed code in a Discussion Board:
    1. Identify the code you want to embed and copy it (most websites with videos, images, and other files that can be embedded have a code generator that will allow you to do this).
    2. Go to the course Discussion Board and create a new entry as you always would by clicking the Reply button.
    3. On the toolbar in for posting a discussion, choose the “Toggle HTML” icon which looks like < > (see the screenshot below these instructions).
    4. In the message box, paste in the Embed code directly in front of the <br /> (see the screenshot).
    5. Save your post.
    6. Return to Design mode by clicking the < > button again.
    7. You can add more text above and below the embedded content if needed.
    8. Submit your post as you always would.
    9. Take a look at your post and make sure your content looks correct. If the embedded content is unavailable, edit your post. Remove the embed code and share a link to the content instead by cutting and pasting the URL. Resubmit the post and check your link.

embed code

Attaching Files

What types of files can I attach?

The most common Microsoft Office documents are Word (.doc/.docx), Excel (.xls/.xslx), and PowerPoint (.ppt/.pptx). However, you can also attach images or audio clips as long as they can be opened on any computer. Regardless of what type of document you are attaching, it must be smaller than 10MB. This can be a challenge if you are trying to share a PowerPoint presentation or a Word document with images included. Please size your images appropriately before inserting them into these documents.

File Extensions

What file extensions should I use when saving my Microsoft Office documents?

.docx, .xlsx and .pptx were introduced in Microsoft Office 2007. They replaced .doc, .ppt and .xls formats that were used with earlier versions of Office (Office 97 – 2003).

In general, you should plan on sharing documents with people who only have earlier versions of Office and you should work in compatibility mode. This means your files should not have the "x" included in the file extension.

Working with .docx and .xslsx files

I can’t open a file .docx file. What should I do?

Not to worry! There are multiple ways to open .docx files. The easiest and most straightforward way is to get the latest Microsoft Office software. As a Concordia student, you have access to a free version of Microsoft Office. Find more about that here.

At the time of writing, Microsoft offers 60 days trials of Microsoft Office software which you can download and use to open .docx files. Also, there are other ways to open a .docx file without Word 2007 or 2010 that involves the use of the Office Web Apps. Find out more about these options here.

There is also the option of installing a special file viewer. You can install it for free from the Microsoft site. This converter program will work for .pptx, .docx and .xlsx file types. Here is the link:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=941b3470-3ae9-4aee-8f43-c6bb74cd1466&displaylang=en

Finally, you can always ask the person who created the file to create a new version for you in compatibility mode with the .doc extension.

Screenshots

To create a screenshot on a PC, follow these steps:

  • Create the arrangement of windows that you want to capture in your screenshot.
  • In the top right section of your keyboard, there should be a row of three keys. The leftmost of these keys should say "Print Screen" (or PrtScr/PrntScrn, etc.). Pressing PrintScreen by itself will create an image of whatever is displayed on your screen at the time and place it on the "clipboard" (you use the clipboard whenever you cut/copy and/or paste text).
  • After pressing Print Screen, it will appear that nothing has happened. To see the image of your screen, open a Word or Paint document and use the paste command (Ctrl-V) to paste the image into the document.
  • The dimensions of the image can be changed by selecting the image and dragging the box around it. The file size of the image will not need to be reduced.

Resizing Images

How do I make my image files smaller before I attach them to Discussion Board posts or  insert them into Word documents/PowerPoint presentations?

You may need to resize an image before you can attach it in Blackboard. For example, you may want to attach an picture of yourself to your first discussion board post.

One way to resize your image is to use a program that came with your PC called Paint (this is not to be confused with Paint.NET). On your computer, open the folder or file with the picture in it. Find the photo you want to attach and RIGHT-CLICK on it with your mouse. This shows a drop-down menu. Choose "Open with..." from the menu and you will see a list of programs you can use to view the file. Choose Paint from this list.

The photo appears in the Paint screen. Click on the word "Image" in the top menu bar. From the dropdown menu that appears, choose "Resize/Skew." In the top half of the Resize/Skew box, it says Resize. This is the only area you will use; disregard the Skew section. The default settings are Horizontal 100% and Vertical 100%. Change each to 25% and click "OK." You will now have a version of your image that is 25% of its original size. Save your new file and insert it into your document.

There are other ways to resize photos if needed; using Paint is just one example.

Sharing PowerPoint Presentations

How do I make my PowerPoint presentation file size smaller?

If you have created a PowerPoint presentation and you need to make it smaller because it is too large to upload, you will have to make sure that the images are compressed (see a tutorial here on how to do that). If you want your PowerPoint presentation to include a video, you will have to include a link to that video instead of embedding the video within the presentation as video files are much too large.

Also, you don’t necessarily have to share the source file for the presentation. Instead, save it as a slide show (a .pps file). This enables people to view your presentation, but not the individual files you used to create it.

Sharing Online Content

How do I share content I created on the Internet via web links?

Perhaps you want to share a link to blog entry you have created, or a video you have uploaded to YouTube. Maybe your instructor has asked you to create a VoiceThread, a Voki, or a timeline at Dipity.com. You will have to figure out how to use these online tools on your own (use the tutorials that are available on those sites and allow yourself plenty of time to work out the kinks). Once you have your finished your work, though, all you have to do is cut and paste a URL (or link) to your content into your Discussion Board post.

This YouTube video shows how to cut and paste a URL into an email. You can use the same technique when pasting URLs into Blackboard posts as well. That's just one of several ways to do this - you may be able to figure out a way that works better for you with a little investigation.

Please double-check your links to make sure the URL is directing users where you want them to go!

More about URLs

What is a URL and how should it look?

A URL is a character string that specifies the location or address of an page on the Internet. Every URL consists of the same components and should look something like the example below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKsm0vHK5Nc

Yours may look different, but always make sure that it works! Double-check to make sure your URL opens up the correct webpage. If you think that it may not work, email it to a friend and ask him/her to ensure that he/she is seeing what you want your classmates and instructor to see.

Should I shorten my URL?

URL-shortening services are available and you can use them if you want to, but this is not necessary. The important thing is that you test whatever link you provide to make sure it actually works.

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Disabling the Information Bar from Blocking File Downloads

Sometimes, attempting to download a file results in a yellow information bar appearing in Internet Explorer which prevents the file from being downloaded. To make sure this yellow bar does not appear, open Internet Explorer and follow these steps.

  1. In the menu bar, click Tools then Internet Options.
  2. Click the Security tab.
  3. Click the 'Custom level...' button.
  4. Scroll to the Downloads section and select the Enable radio button under 'Automatic prompting for file downloads'.
  5. Click OK.

Disable inobar

RTFs

What is an RTF and how do I open it?

Rich Text Format (RTF) is a universal file type that opens on any computer. You should download and open it the same way you would a PDF or Word document.

Some Mac users have issues opening the file due to their browser opening the file before it fully downloads. If you’re having issues opening RTF files, please try the following:

For a Mac, the simplest way to save a file to your computer is to hold down the ctrl key and then click on a link. When you ctrl+click a link, a prompt with an option to save the file to your computer will appear. Please ctrl+click the link to the file, save the file to your computer, and then browse to where you saved the file and then try to open it.

If this is not working for you, please try the method below:

  • Click on the link. Now go to the File menu and select Get Info. (command + i)
  • When that window opens, look at the Open With section. If nothing shows up, click on the arrow next to Open With to expand it.
  • It will probably show System Profiler. Click on that pull down menu and it should show TextEdit or Word. Select either, although Word is preferred.
  • If TextEdit or Word is not on the list in that pull down menu, select other. A new window will open. Select TextEdit or Word from the Applications folder.
  • Now click on the Change all button at the bottom of the Open With section. This will force TextEdit or Word to open all .rtf files in the future.