Tuesday, October 25, 2011

COPY AND PASTE FROM MS WORD IS A NO-NO!

In the past few weeks, it has become apparent that our current version of Blackboard does not tolerate the copying from MS WORD 2007 or later, and pasting directly into a Bb course. Many issues and problems with courses, and with the Bb server, have been directly attributed to incompatible html and xml coding that is the result of copying text from WORD into the textboxes, etc. in Bb. After some investigation, and some help from Blackboard’s support department, we verified that this problem has many far-reaching consequences. In the words of the Bb Client Support manager:

“Blackboard users will experience multiple problems viewing text that has been pasted directly from a Word processor (such as Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, etc) into Blackboard. This practice has results ranging from text not viewable, corruption of entire courses, errors in the Discussion Board, corruption of Test/Survey questions, invalid HTML error messages, corruption of the grade center, and strangely formatted text/unusual symbols."

The cause of this issue is the accompanying word processor formatting code that is included when using the copy/paste feature. This "bad HTML/XML code" MUST be removed prior to pasting into Blackboard.

Blackboard strongly recommends that instructors NOT paste any word processor documents directly into Blackboard. Since Shenandoah has the "Paste From Word" mashup loaded, it is best for faculty & students to use that MashUp. The "Paste from
Word" option preserves the text formatting and tables, but removes any
problematic XML code that may be incompatible with the Blackboard application.

Using this process for "cleaning" clipboard text formatting takes longer but it is very important in preventing issues that may occur.

Since Shenandoah had faculty importing from Bb 8, all faculty need to open each
question on a test BEFORE deploying the test and confirm that each question, all answers, and any feedback do not have "bad codes" in them. To do this they need to: Click on the HTML button on the textbox (< >) to open the HTML textbox. (If they don't see an HTML button, there should be a little black triangle under the toolbar above the textbox. Click on it to display the second toolbar.) They should then manually delete any HTML or XML (non-text) code and Submit.”

Blackboard has said they plan to have a fix for this issue in a future release. Meanwhile, however, it is up to each of us to comply to ensure the stability and integrity of our Blackboard installment.

Please share this information with your respective departments, and with your students as well.

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