Personal Computer System Requirements

In order to take online or hybrid courses, or to do computer work for on campus classes from home, you must own or have convenient access to a computer system with the following minimum qualifications:

 

 

 What is Blackboard®? 

Blackboard is a Web-based learning management system (LMS) designed to support fully online courses, hybrid courses or face-to-face course supplementation. Blackboard provides many types of tools and features for enriching the learning experience and it integrates with Colleague to provide a space for each course taught each semester. Student enrollments and faculty assignments are handled automatically by the system. Blackboard supports various media types for creating engaging content so there are some computer system requirements for it to work correctly.

Operating System: 

Blackboard was designed to work on Windows and Macintosh based systems. At this time, Linux is not a supported operating system with Blackboard.

  • MINIMUM:
    • Windows® 7 or 8/8.1
    • Mac® OSX 10.8, or 10.9
  • RECOMMENDED:
    • Windows 8/8.1, 10
    • Mac OSX 10.8, 10.9, 10.10

Browser and System Check: 

To ensure your system is compatible with Blackboard, run the Browser and Operating System Check. This page will test your computer for up-to-date browsers, plugins, and other software necessary for working in Blackboard.

Processor: 

The processor (or CPU) is the brain of your computer. Much like a human brain, it tells the computer what to do and when to do it. The speed of your processor is determined by how many commands it can perform in a given second and is measured in hertz (Hz). The higher the processing speed, the faster your computer is able to execute commands. Because the Blackboard environment is interactive and contains a mixture of media (videos, slideshows, exams, etc.), you need at least a 1 GHz (1 GHz = 1,000,000,000 Hz) processor to handle these operations. Most new computers come with at least 2 GHz installed out of the box.

  • MINIMUM:
    • 1 GHz processor
  • RECOMMENDED:
    • 2 GHz or faster processor

Memory: 

When your computer is processing information, part of that data is stored in the memory for easy access. This allows the computer to quickly retrieve that information which helps your computer run faster. When memory gets filled up, your computer will begin storing this temporary information in a file on your hard drive. When the computer has to access the data from the hard drive, it can slow down your system. The more RAM (Random-Access Memory) you have, the faster your computer can access this temporary information.
  • MINIMUM:
    • 512 MB of RAM
  • RECOMMENDED:
    • 2 GB of RAM or higher

Internet Connection: 

You can check your speed settings using the speed test on this website: http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/.

  • MINIMUM:
    • Broadband (high-speed) Internet connection with a consistent minimum speed of 1.5 Mbps.
  • RECOMMENDED:
    • Broadband (high-speed) Internet connection with a speed of 4 Mbps or higher

PLEASE NOTE: Consistent means that your connection does not fall below 1.5 Mbps during regular usage. If your speed is slower than 1.5 Mbps, you may need to find an alternative way to access the Internet either by finding a different Internet service provider or using the wireless connection at a public facility (i.e. a BC3 computer lab).
Direct connections to the router are preferred over wireless or satellite connections. AOL is not compatible with Blackboard.

ADDITIONAL MATERIALS: 

PLEASE NOTE: Additional costs for proctoring services or use of other technologies and practices may apply and notice of such costs will be provided to students at the time of registration. Costs may vary.

JAVA: 

Java is a programming language and software platform that is required for certain features of Blackboard® to function properly. Some of the important features which use Java include assessments, surveys, discussions, file uploading, and downloading.

Internet Browsers: 

Second, it helps to rule out browser related issues. If you are having problems in one browser and not another, then you know there is something going on with your browser or its settings. If you are having the same problem in multiple browsers, then you’ll know that it is either a system issue or something related to Blackboard®.

**Some exams REQUIRE that you use the Respondus Lockdown Browser©. This browser is only used for exam purposes.

LockDown Browser System Requirements

To download and install the Respondus LockDown Browser©, go to Third Party Applications & Support

PLEASE NOTE:  It is not recommended to use cell phone browsers to submit course work or take exams as unexpected results may occur. Blackboard does provide an app for Android, Blackberry and iPhone OS called Mobile Learn, but unless the exam is setup for the mobile app, the exam will not work.

Blackboard® Supported Browsers: 

Blackboard supports four primary browsers for Learn releases. Links to the vendor sites for the browsers are included in this topic. To learn more about Blackboard's general browser support policy as well as information about Javascript, Cookies, and other software, see the Browser Support Policy topic in this section. 

Traditionally Released Browsers
The dates listed are the original release dates for general availability.

Internet Explorer Icon

 
  • Edge
  • Internet Explorer® 11 from Microsoft (17 October 2013 for Windows 8.1, 7 November 2013 for Windows 7)
  • Internet Explorer 10 from Microsoft (26 October 2012 for Windows 8, 26 February 2013 for Windows 7)
  • Internet Explorer 9 from Microsoft  (14 March 2011)

Some configuration options for Internet Explorer might make some features of Blackboard Learn difficult to use. To learn more,  see Internet Explorer Security Zones and Compatibility View topic in this section.

Safari Browser icon  
  • Safari® 8 from Apple (16 October 2014)
  • Safari® 7 from Apple (22 October 2013)
  • Safari® 6 from Apple (25 July 2012)

Safari for Windows is unsupported. Apple's continued support for this browser is unclear, and Blackboard does not test it.

Automatically Updated Channel-based Browsers
The dates listed are the latest numbered patch release dates.

Firefox Icon

 
  • Firefox® 32 (stable channel) from Mozilla (2 September 2014)                                                         
  • Firefox® 31 (ESR channel) from Mozilla (14 October 2014)
Google Chrome Browser icon  
  • Chrome™ 37 (stable channel) from Google (26 August 2014)
Don't See Your Browser or Version Listed?
Both newer and older browsers from these vendors may be supported. To learn more, see the Browser Support Policy topic in this section.

Browser Settings for Use with Blackboard®: 

Regardless of the browser being used, Blackboard Learn requires the use of session cookies and javascript enabled in the user's browser to provide the right experience for teaching and learning. Additional acceptance of persistent cookies or third-party cookies may be required for some features to function correctly, including WebDAV access to course files or content collection files.

Must have all settings where appropriate. (Instruction below in table.)

  • Cookies Enabled
  • JavaScript Enabled
  • Trusted Sites – add BC3, Blackboard® and Respondus.com or Respondus2.com
  • Security – set to low or medium-low
  • Popup Blockers Disabled or add BC3, Blackboard®, MyBC3 Portal and Respondus.com or Respondus2.com to ALLOWED sites
Browsers Settings
Internet Explorer
(PC only)

Internet Explorer Icon

Enable Cookies: Tools > Internet Options > Privacy > Advanced > Check "Override Automatic Cookie Handling (accept 1st party; Prompt 3rd party)" and check the option to always accept session cookies. OK and OK back to browser.
Enable Javascript: Tools > Internet Options > Security Tab > Internet > Custom Level > Scroll down to Scripting and enable "Active Scripting," "Allow Programmatic clipboard access," "Allow status bar updates via script," "Allow websites to prompt for information ...," and "Scripting of Java applets". OK back browser.
Enable Status bar: View > Toolbars > Check "Status Bar".
Get New Page Each Visit: Tools > Internet Options > General Tab > in Browsing history section, click the Settings button > select "Every time I visit the webpage." OK and OK back to browser.
Pop-up Blocker Settings: Tools > Pop-up Blocker > Pop-up Blocker Settings ... > Add bc3.edu, blackboard.bc3.edu and Respondus.com (or Respondus2.com for the Chrome Beta version) > Close back to browser.
Trusted Sites: Tools > Internet Options > Security > Trusted sites > Sites > Uncheck "Require server verification for all sites in this zone" > Add bc3.edu, blackboard.bc3.edu and Respondus.com (or Respondus2.com for the Chrome Beta version) > Close and OK back to browser.
Discussion Board Issues: Tools > Internet Options > Security Settings > Custom Level > scroll down to Miscellaneous and set “Launching programs and files in an IFRAME” to Prompt. OK and OK back to browser.
Mozilla Firefox
(PC and Mac)

Firefox icon
NOTE: for Mac OS X browsers, access preferences via the Application Menu (ex. Firefox > Preferences).
Enable Cookies: Tools > Options > Privacy > History pane: Use custom settings for history > Cookies > select “Accept cookies from sites” and "Accept third-party cookies." OK back to browser.
Enable Javascript: Tools > Options > Content > check the “Enable Javascript” box. OK back to browser.
Get new page each visit: Tools > Options > Privacy > History pane: Use custom settings for history > select "Clear history when Firefox closes.“ Click Settings and select "Cache.” OK and OK back to browser.
Popup Blocker Settings: Tools > Options > Content > Click the “Exceptions” button next to Block Pop-up Windows > Add bc3.edu, blackboard.bc3.edu and Respondus.com (or Respondus2.com for the Chrome Beta version)f > Click Allow and Close. OK back to browser.
Clear Browser Cache: Tools > Clear Recent History > Select Cache. OK back to browser.
Google Chrome
(PC and Mac)

Google Chrome icon

NOTE: for Mac OS X browsers, access preferences via the Application Menu (ex. Chrome > Preferences).
Enable Cookies: Settings > Show advanced settings > Privacy > Content Settings... > Cookies > check "Allow local data to be set.." OK and close Settings tab back to browser.
Enable Javascript: Settings > Show advanced settings > Privacy > Content Settings... > Javascript > check “Allow sites to run Javascript”. OK and close Settings tab back to browser.
Get new page each visit: Settings > Show advanced settings > Privacy > Content Settings... > Cookies > Select "Keep local data only until I quit my browser” OK. Close Settings tab back to browser.
NOTE: This will also clear your cookie each time the browser is closed. Unfortunately, Chrome doesn't have a mechanism to automatically clear only the cache. You could alternatively just routinely clear the browser cache (instructions provided below).
Pop-up Blocker Settings: Settings > Show advanced settings > Privacy > Content Settings... > Pop-ups > Click the “Manage exceptions” button > Add bc3.edu, blackboard.bc3.edu and Respondus.com (or Respondus2.com for the Chrome Beta version) > set behavior to "Allow." OK and close Settings tab back to browser.
Clear Browser Cache: History > Clear browsing data: Select "the beginning of time" from the "Obliterate..." drop down, Select "Empty the cache" and click the Clear browsing data button. Close Settings tab back to browser.
Safari
(Mac Only)

Safari icon

All Settings: Safari Menu > Preferences > click Security icon > Check: Enable Plug-ins, Java, & Javascript. > Clear check box on "Block Pop-up Windows." > Accept Cookies > select "Only From Sites I Visit."

Other Browser Plugins

A handful of Blackboard Learn features require particular additional software to be installed. Without these, the features themselves do not function. Users may be prompted to install the additional software when accessing these features, or depending on individual browser security settings, users may need to acknowledge a browser message allowing the plugin to run on their system.

Blackboard Learn can be used to serve media content or other types of specialized content that requires a browser plugin such as Java, Flash Player, Apple QuickTime, or other plug-ins to render the content. In these scenarios, the version of the plugin and the browsers that are compatible with the plug-in, as well as installation and configuration instructions for the plug-in, are determined by the nature of the content and will vary.

The Java Runtime Environment (JRE) from Oracle enabled as a browser plug-in is required.

JRE version 7 is the recommended version for features that depend on it. JRE version 6 may work, but could result in unexpected behavior. Oracle has acknowledged some security issues with JRE version 6.

On Apple Mac OS X, Google's Chrome browser does not support Java 7 because of incompatibilities between 64-bit Java and 32-bit Chrome. Firefox and Safari browsers do not have this limitation on Mac OS X. Users of the Chrome browser on Mac OS X must configure Java 6 support to access the features listed.

(download the latest versions)

Browser Support Policy

Blackboard's approach to determining browser testing and validation is driven by two main considerations:
  1. We want to test and validate the latest browsers, especially where browser auto-updates drive rapid end user upgrades.
  2. We want to test and validate an appropriately broad set of browsers that are being used among our clients.

When a browser is listed as tested and validated, Blackboard is committed to supporting client usage in two main ways:

  1. Before a Learn release, by testing the available browser and operating system combinations to prevent any browser issues from being released.
  2. After a Learn release, by rapidly addressing client issues by:
  • Accepting Support cases on the platform technology, assisting with resolution, and escalating the issues for resolution, regardless of the browser in use.
  • Working to resolve any browser issues in product releases as with any other type of issue.

Blackboard tests and validates four primary browsers for Learn releases. This includes two browsers that follow a traditional software update path with periodic releases of new versions as Generally Available, typically tied to a particular operating system (OS):

  • Internet Explorer from Microsoft
  • Safari from Apple

Certain Internet Explorer configuration options can make it difficult to use some features of Blackboard Learn. To learn more, see the Internet Explorer Security Zones and Compatibility View topic in this section.

This also includes two browsers that follow a cross-operating system, channel-based rapid software update path:

  • Firefox from Mozilla
  • Chrome from Google

With these browsers, Blackboard tests their latest "stable" release channel at the time of testing, which is the channel that gets the most testing by the browser vendors themselves before being released to users.

In addition, Blackboard tests and validates Firefox's specialized Extended Support Release (ESR) channel, which is a subset of their stable channel designed for enterprise-wide deployment. To learn more, see Firefox's Extended Support Release page.

Blackboard's Approach to Rendering in Browsers

The rendering layer of Blackboard Learn consists of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and JavaScript that all comply with modern standards for those languages.

Our universal design approach focuses on interoperability. This means that wherever possible we do not write code specific to a certain browser or we use the minimum amount of encapsulation to handle variations among the browsers.

  • The rendering layer of Blackboard Learn interacts with the rendering engine of your browser, which is the part that draws the web pages in the main part of the browser window.
  • All of the browser rendering engines are designed to work well with standards-compliant markup in HTML, CSS and Javascript. This includes:
    • WebKit, which powers Safari, Chrome, and Opera
    • Blink, a version of WebKit that powers the most recent versions of Chrome
    • Trident, which powers Internet Explorer
    • Gecko, which powers Firefox

This design approach to the rendering layer of Blackboard Learn allows us to be confident that new versions of browsers, when released, will continue to work with current versions of Learn.

Blackboard's Approach to Browser Testing

To verify this confidence with each new release, Blackboard executes our browser compatibility test suite against newly released browser versions on multiple OS combinations to ensure function prior to releasing a given version. This testing leverages the full set of automation and manual testing strategies available to ensure confidence in testing.

Newer Browser Versions

Because of the increased frequency of new browser version released by some vendors, Blackboard's policy is to support all new browser versions released to the market as Generally Available or by supported release channels, even if the browser is released after testing has concluded for the release. We address any critical browser issues found by clients in the field against a provisionally supported browser as a top priority. We execute frequent test cycles against new browsers to ensure the system continues to perform as expected and will update client facing supported browser documentation appropriately.

Older Browsers

Just as we recommend keeping up with the latest version of Blackboard Learn for the best experience, the browser vendors make the same recommendation about their software. Some older versions of browsers from some vendors may have rendering issues with newer versions of Learn, and some newer browser versions may have rendering issues with older versions of Learn.

Blackboard still accepts client issues for these browsers reported to Support and will attempt to replicate the issue on a fully supported browser.  If it cannot replicate the issue, Blackboard will recommend that the client move to a browser version fully supported by Blackboard. In some cases, an additional recommendation might be to update to a more modern version of Learn.

Internet Explorer Security Zones and Compatibility View 

Common Issue with Internet Explorer - Not Logged In

Some Blackboard Learn users using Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser may encounter a "Not Logged In" error when attempting to access Cloud features such as Profiles if their browser is not configured to have both the Cloud server and their Learn installation server in the same Security Zone. This error occurs even though the user is successfully logged in to Blackboard Learn at their institution.

Error Message box - Not Logged In. Your session may have timed out. Please login again.

The configuration of Security Zones is a unique feature of Internet Explorer. Users of the other supported browsers for Blackboard Learn do not have this issue. To learn more about supported browsers, see the Browser Support Policy topic in this section.

This problem is easy to correct, but it must be done in the individual browser. The following sections provide directions for several versions.

Common Issue with Internet Explorer - Profile Not Found

Some Blackboard Learn users using Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser may encounter a "Profile Not Found" error when attempting to access the Profiles feature in particular if their browser is configured to show either their Learn installation server or the Cloud server in Compatibility View mode. This error occurs even though the user is successfully logged in to Blackboard Learn at their institution.

Profile not found error message box. The profile you are looking for could not be found.

The Compatibility View mode is a unique feature of Internet Explorer. Users of the other supported browsers for Blackboard Learn do not have this issue. To learn more about supported browsers, see the Browser Support Policy topic in this section.

This problem is easy to correct, but it must be done in the individual browser. The following sections provide directions for several versions.

Configuring Internet Explorer Security Zones for Blackboard Learn and Cloud

  1. From the Tools menu, select Internet Options. In Internet Explorer versions 9 and 10, you access this menu by clicking on the "sprocket" icon under the search bar. In version 8, you access this menu by clicking on the word "Tools" in the same location. The following steps are identical for all versions.
  2. Select the Security tab in the Internet Options dialog box.
  3. Select Trusted Sites (the green check mark icon).
  4. Add *.cloud.bb to the Trusted Zone if it is not already added.
  5. Add blackboard.bc3.edu to the Trusted Zone if it is not already added.
  6. Add portal.bc3.edu to the Trusted Zone if it is not already added.
  7. Add bc3.edu to the Trusted Zone if it is not already added.
  8. Add  LockDownSFX-107-10.exe (or LockDownBrowser-190-11 for the Chrome Beta version) to the Trusted Zone if it is not already added.
  9. Close the Trusted Sites dialog box.
  10. Click OK to close the Internet Options dialog box.

Configuring Compatibility View Settings for Blackboard Learn and Cloud

  1. From the Tools menu, select Compatibility View Settings. In Internet Explorer versions 9 and 10, you access this menu by first hitting the Alt key to make the menu bar visible. In version 10 on Windows 8 OS, you must be in Desktop mode. In version 8, you access this menu by clicking on the word "Tools" underneath the Search box. The following steps are identical for all versions.
  2. Review any sites in the Websites you've added to Compatibility View list.
  3. If there are any cloud.bb sites, blackboard.bc3.edu, portal.bc3.edu, bc3.edu or any LockDown.exe sites on the list, select them and click Remove.
  4. If blackboard.bc3.edu, portal.bc3.edu, bc3.edu or any LockDown.exe sites are in your Intranet Security Zone, clear the Display intranet sites in Compatibility View check box.
  5. Click Close to close the Compatibility View Settings dialog box.

Notes

Technically, the Security Zone issue arises if your Blackboard Learn server and the Blackboard cloud.bb server are in two different Internet Explorer Security Zones AND one of those zones is running in Protected Mode and the other zone is not running in Protected Mode. In this configuration, the cloud.bb server and the Blackboard Learn server are not able to communicate with each other to validate your session, so the cloud.bb server reports that you are not logged in.

Because of this, it is also possible to fix this issue by changing the Protected Mode setting for one of the zones (using the Security tab as described above) so that it matches the other, without necessarily changing the zone for either server, or adding either one to the Trusted Sites zone. However, this may have an impact on your browsing of other, non-Blackboard sites, or on browsing policies at your institution.

The recommended, easiest way to configure your browser to work around this issue is by adding both entries to the Trusted Sites zone as described above.

Compatibility View mode should not be needed for any feature of Blackboard Learn. With this mode set, the Cloud server is unable to communicate back to the Blackboard Learn server when it has new information.

Assistive Software and Accessibility 

Blackboard is fully committed to ensuring that our platform contains no barriers for users with disabilities and is both usable and accessible by everyone, regardless of age, ability, or situation. Our commitment can be evidenced by the following third party evaluations of the Blackboard Learn platform:

Conformance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Priority AA, issued December 2012 by Deque Systems

Blackboard Learn is the first and only LMS in the world to deliver a conformance statement by a third-party, demonstrating our focus and determination to deliver excellence for everyone.

Gold level certification for non-visual access, issued by The National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

Blackboard was the first LMS in the world to achieve this certification. With valuable input from our clients and a strong set of development and testing tools, we invest in accessible products and capabilities that meet the wide range of our client’s needs. To fulfill this promise we are continually partnering with industry experts to audit our code and user interface design techniques to ensure the accessibility of the products.

Blackboard measures and evaluates accessibility using two sets of standards: theWCAG 2.0 standards issued by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act issued in the United States federal government.

Browser and Operating System Checkon how to use Blackboard's accessibility features, go to http://www.blackboard.com/Platforms/Learn/Resources/Accessibility/Accessibility-Resources.aspx

Recommended Computer System Configurations 

Operating System

Windows 7 or higher

Mac OSX 10.7, 10.8, or 10.9 or higher

Processor  

2 GHz or faster

Memory  

2 GB RAM or greater

Hard Drive  

360 GB or greater

Internet Connection

DSL, cable or satellite connection.  Direct (wired) connections are preferred over wireless (Wi-Fi) or satellite connections.  AOL is not compatible with Blackboard.

 JAVA

Latest version

Browsers

Respondus LockDown Browser®

Internet Explorer 9 or higher

Safari 6 or higher

Firefox 31 or higher

Chrome 37 or higher 

Additional FREE Plugins or Players: (download the latest versions)

Adobe® Acrobat Reader – https://get.adobe.com/reader/

Microsoft® Office 365 (free for students)https://products.office.com/en‑us/student/office‑in‑education?legRedir=true&CorrelationId=b92b4e31-6b0c-4418-b824‑9e72b6c484e9&tab=students

Macromedia Shockwave® Player – https://get.adobe.com/shockwave/

QuickTime® Player – http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/

VLC® Media Player – http://www.videolan.org/vlc/

Adobe® Flash Player – https://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/

RealPlayer® — http://www.real.com/#basicModal

Windows Media Player® — http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/download-windows-media-player

  • The use of Wi-Fi and hot spot connections could result in slowness, errors, timeouts and access problems when accessing Blackboard course materials and taking exams.
  • The use of public access internet or computers (i.e., Restaurants and libraries) may result in slowness, timeouts or access problems when accessing Blackboard course materials and/or exams. Public access computers may not permit any access to certain course materials or software due to security limitations. (i.e., Respondus LockDown Browser®)
  • Students need to have access to a PC or Mac computer but may use a mobile device such as a phone or tablet as a secondary means to access Blackboard via the Blackboard mobile app.  However, course      materials and/or exams may be limited on mobile devices unless otherwise specified by instructor. 

Technologies NOT Supported by BC3 or Blackboard (Bb) 9: 

  • COMPUTERS, TABLETS, SMARTPHONES AND ANY OTHER TYPES OF MOBILE DEVICES:
    • Apple: i.e., iPad, iPod and iPhones
    • Android: Tablets {i.e., Lenovo Idea Pad, Dell Streak, HP Multi-touch, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Amazon Kindle Fire, Asus Nexus, Barnes and Noble Nook, and so forth) and any Android Smartphone
    • Windows: Tablets (i.e., Surface RT) and any Windows Smartphone
    • Google Chrome book
PLEASE NOTE: The lists above are only a few examples of these types of devices.
  • BROWSERS:
    • Firefox: All versions of Firefox are not supported (BC3)
    • Google Chrome: All versions of Google Chrome are not supported (BC3)
    • Internet Explorer Version 7.0 or earlier is not supported (Bb and BC3)
    • Netscape Navigator: All versions of Netscape Navigator are not supported (Bb and BC3)
    • Opera: All versions of the Opera browser are not supported (Bb and BC3)
    • Safari Version 5.0 or earlier are not supported for Macintosh (Bb and BC3)
    • Safari: All versions of the Safari browser are not supported for Windows’ PCs (Bb and BC3)
  • OPERATING SYSTEMS
    • Windows OX 64-bit
    • Mac OSX 64-bit

Computer System Requirements - Printable Document: