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Blackboard Access Guide

A Brief Overview of Blackboard Accounts

If you are a registered student in a course using Blackboard and have a valid PennKey, you will automatically be given access to Blackboard. You will have access approximately 24 hours after registering (or making changes to your schedule--for example, into another section of the same course). Full information about PennKeys accounts and policies can be found at http://www.upenn.edu/computing/pennkey/.

Instructors and TAs are not automatically given access to Blackboard. When an instructor or TA requests a course, she or he is added to the course by a Blackboard administrator. Additional instructors, TAs or course builders can be added to the course by either the primary instructor, a TA or a Blackboard administrator.

Research associates, guest lecturers, and others without an existing PennKey can obtain a temporary Guest PennKey to access Blackboard.  Instructors must request these accounts on their behalf. For more information on requesting guest Pennkeys, please see the following page: http://www.library.upenn.edu/courseware/pennkeybb.html

Typically, access problems fit into one of three scenarios below.
If none of these describes your problem, see Other areas to troubleshoot.
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1. The Blackboard site does not respond

If you cannot access Blackboard's login page
If you cannot access Blackboard's login page (but can access other internet sites), the problem is likely one of the following:
  1. a power outage on campus
  2. a Blackboard server outage
  3. a library network outage
For information about a possible Blackboard server outage:
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2. Blackboard does not recognize your User ID and Password

Login failure indicates Blackboard has no record of a User ID and Password matching those you've entered. Please select your status:

Registered Penn student, faculty or staff member with a valid PennKey & password
1. If you enter your PennKey and password and receive the following message:
This message means your PennKey and password are valid, which is good news; the bad news is that your PennKey information has not yet been entered in Blackboard. The reason for this is likely one of the following:
  • Updates to course site rosters occur overnight. Therefore, if the Blackboard course you need access to was added today, you will not have access until tomorrow morning.
  • Changes you make to your course schedule through Penn InTouch take from 24 to 48 hours to be reflected in Blackboard's records. If you've just added a class to your schedule, try logging in again tomorrow morning after the system has updated.
  • Not all courses use Blackboard. Verify that your instructor has a Blackboard site.
2. If you enter your PennKey and password and receive the following message:
This message means that the Pennkey and/or password you are entering is incorrect.
  • Are you using your PennKey username (NOT your Penn ID number) and password when attempting to log in? Blackboard access is based on PennKey authentication.
  • Make sure your [Caps Lock] key is not on and that there are no unintentional spaces before, within, or after your PennKey and password.
  • To test whether or not you are using a valid PennKey and password, log in to the following site: http://www.upenn.edu/computing/pennkey/testmypennkey/
  • If you are unable to authenticate via the "Test My Pennkey" tool, there is a problem with your PennKey and/or password. If this is the case, you need either to create a new PennKey or to reset your password. For further information on requesting a new PennKey or resetting a password, please see the Pennkey web site: http://www.upenn.edu/computing/pennkey/
3. If neither of the above applies to you, please use our Blackboard Support Form to report your problem.
Temporary PennKey holder (research associate, guest lecturer, etc.)
1. If you enter your PennKey and password and receive the following message:
This message means your PennKey and password are valid, which is good news; the bad news is that your PennKey information hasn't yet been input into Blackboard.
  • Use the Blackboard Support Form to contact us and indicate your PennKey username (NOT your password, Blackboard Staff will never ask for this information) and the course site(s) you need access to. We will notify you when you can successfully login to Blackboard.
2. If you enter your PennKey and password and receive the following message:
This message means the PennKey and/or password you are entering is incorrect.
  • Are you using your PennKey username (NOT your Penn ID number) and password when attempting to login? Blackboard access is based on PennKey authentication.
  • Make sure your [Caps Lock] key is not on and that there are no unintentional spaces before, within, or after your PennKey and password.
  • To test whether or not you are using a valid PennKey and password, login to the following site: http://www.upenn.edu/computing/pennkey/testmypennkey/
  • If you unable to authenticate via the "Test My Pennkey" tool, there is a problem with your PennKey and/or password. If this is the case, please contact us via the Blackboard Support Form.
If neither of the above applies to you, please use our Blackboard Support Form to report your problem.
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3. You don't see your courses under "My Courses"

If you successfully log in to Blackboard and see no course(s) listed, only your old course(s) listed, or courses other than the course(s) you're looking for, the access problem is likely due to one of the following:

All Blackboard Users: By default, Blackboard only displays a few course sites.
  1. To see if any of your courses are hidden, go to the "My Courses" section where you'll see that the top bar of that box has two icons -- a circle and a square.
  2. Click on the circle icon (the icon on the left).
  3. This will bring up a page listing all of the course sites you have access to. There you also can check/un-check "Display Course Name" for any of your courses.
  4. When finished click "Submit" to save your changes.
Students: Blackboard does not (yet) have a record of your enrollment in the course.
Registrar information takes 24-48 hours from time of enrollment (not counting weekend days) to be reflected in Blackboard.
The instructor of the course you're looking for is not using Blackboard (i.e., not every course uses Blackboard) or the course site has not been created yet.
  • During the first week of classes your instructor will indicate if s/he intends to use Blackboard.
Instructors: Your course site has not been created yet.
Course sites need to be requested through our online request form.
If you have already requested your course site through the form, and it has been more than 24 hours since you submitted your request, please contact us through the Support Request Form for further assistance.
Guests and visiting scholars are not automatically added.
Blackboard users with these roles are not automatically added to course sites as part of our daily enrollment process. Please contact us using the Support Request Form and indicate what course site(s) you require access to and we can enroll you.

Note:  If you've suddenly lost access to a course you're registered for or are teaching, please notify us using the Support Request Form.

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Other areas to troubleshoot

Browser, URL, etc.
1. Make sure that you are using a recent, supported version of Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari (for Mac) or Internet Explorer.
  • A list of Blackboard compatible and Blackboard "Certified" browsers and necessary plug-ins can be found here.
  • Do not use the AOL Browser to access Blackboard. If AOL is your Internet Service Provider, use the AOL Browser to log in. Then minimize the AOL Browser, and use Firefox or Internet Explorer to access Blackboard. The AOL Browser does not give dependable results in accessing either Blackboard or the Library Proxy Server.
2. Make sure you're going to the correct web site.
3. Check simple things.
  • Check that your caps-lock key isn't on.
  • On a public computer, make sure the previous user has logged out (see instructions for Logging Out).

Report the problem

If you still cannot access Blackboard, report your difficulties at http://www.library.upenn.edu/forms/bb- gethelp.html.

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