Off the Twitter Timeline: Icons

I laughed at reading this one.

Dear Blackboard: If you include icons in your interface, they should f’ing well be clickable. Everyone but you knows this. jazzmodeus

I thought this might refer to the new item icons. Jason works for Emory (doing instructional design) and taking classes at Florida State. Both use Academic Suite. So its probably not what I thought….

In Blackboard CE/Vista, the “course list” [1] can show icons to alert about new things to do. These can be about waiting assessments, discussion, mail, etc. If users click on the icon, then they can see the items causing the notice. At least, when left at the defaults.

One of the schools we host discovered when students entered a tool by clicking on these icon, the subsequent activity would not be tracked. The work around was to turn off the link rather than the icons entirely.

We agreed with the school and labored to convince Blackboard this was a major security problem. Unfortunately, the people who post the support bulletins have yet to post something about this problem. Its not a major item unless you are the student being accused of cheating because your activity doesn’t show appropriately.

[1] course list – This name bugs me….

  • The name is a hold over from when instruction took place in courses. In this system they take place in sections. So why not section list?
  • MyWebCT is dumb. MyBlackboard is dumber. “My” is 2004-ish portal cutesy, personalization name buzzword. Similarly, “e” and “i” are similarly dumb.


  1. Out of curiosity, how long did you wait to see if the activity showed up in tracking? Did you see other tool activity show up which was contemporaneous with the activity that didn’t show up?

  2. John, good questions….

    We didn’t hear about this until a few days after the student had taken the assessment. We only host the product for several schools so are somewhat removed from the faculty. This particular admin knew the tracking data gets updated in the early morning. So he was concerned when he got ahold of it that the performance report didn’t show the student taking the assessment. However, he didn’t want to think the student cheated somehow because of the lack of tracking data.

    Also, we have previously seen issues with tracking files not getting uploaded due to special characters, length, or other issues. So we checked for that as well. No files had failed to be uploaded on the node in question. We did find contemporaneous data.

    The web server logs clearly showed the student had visited the assessment. The assessment had been submitted. The tracking data was just missing.

    Our Blackboard TSM and support engineers verified the problem. I would imagine the reason this has not gone public is the version we run is unofficially de-supported. It is listed as supported without dedicating the resources to support it.

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