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Discussion Post NOT formatting correctly after I copy it from Word

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Meli Rodriguez posted on 26 Jul 2012 1:10 PM

Everytime I try to copy my discussion post from Word into blackboard forum it does not format correctly. For example, the following two paragraphs are formatted correctly.

The most commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications are antidepressants, beta-blockers, and benzodiazepines.  Beta-blockers are used to control the physical symptoms that accompany anxiety, such as nausea, sweating, and trembling.

These medications help the forty million American adults over the age of 18 that are affected by an anxiety disorder gain relief.  Anxiety disorders are caused by life stressors, social stressors, unrelenting fears of uncertainty, medical illness, and other disorders. 

Now look at what happens when I copy form Word.

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The most commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications are antidepressants, beta-blockers, and benzodiazepines. Beta-blockers are used to control the physical symptoms that accompany anxiety, such as nausea, sweating, and trembling.

These medications help the forty million American adults over the age of 18 that are affected by an anxiety disorder gain relief. Anxiety disorders are caused by life stressors, social stressors, unrelenting fears of uncertainty, medical illness, and other disorders.

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Now imagine this with a 3 page essay no paragraph spacing or too much and some words too small and others are fine.  I have tried changing the font and size once it is in blackboard but it will not change but one sentence or none.  I have tried saving as a draft that is even worse.  Any suggestions???

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Top 25 Contributor
Male
137 Posts

DO NOT copy and paste from Word.  It copies in a VAST quantity of invsible XML code that can crash browsers, hide Submit buttons, and so on.  Write in Word if you need to, but then copy/paste into Notepad to strip out the extra code.

Do not attempt to do any formatting in the Discussion Board beyond the most basic bold, italic, color, etc.  You will only frustrate yourself. 

"An educated mind without a focused will is useless.  An educated mind  without a loving heart  is dangerous." —Winfried Deijmann.

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For a system that is essentially dependent on people pasting Word documents, why is this so hard for Blackboard to get working? Weebly is a free web-site making place and it can handle pasting from Word drastically better than here. If a free site can manage to make it work, there is zero excuse for a company that is paid considerable sums to screw this up so badly.

 

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8,091 Posts

Tommy,

The current text editor in Blackboard is fairly old, and is slated to be replaced with the update that's due out this fall.  Meanwhile, look for a "Paste from Word" option in the mash-up section of the editor toolbar.  That's a plug-in that lots of schools have added to the text editor on their servers:

Top 500 Contributor
11 Posts

we installed on test server and worked fine except that in IE (8.0) it would not strip the fonts... in FF and Chrome it did, the new editor in SP 10 has an erase formatting which is way easier...

cheers,


Arne

Top 500 Contributor
9 Posts

This still does not work in SP 12.  Furthermore, I find the suggestion to use notepad in any sort of academic writing to be absolutely absurd.  Notepad is still limited to only 64k worth of text.  I am sure many students write term papers which will easily go over this archaic limit.  And yes, some professors demand students post their essay's in the discussion boards so all the students can read them, comment on them, and learn from them.  Most of my professors have actually opened up their own personal blogs and wiki's, and are telling us to post comments on those blogs since blackboard is unable to handle the simplest of tasks.

Top 25 Contributor
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137 Posts

You can always attach a Word doc if formatting is important.  The Discussion Board is designed for discussion.  not as a a place where students post carefully formatted papers, certainly not by copying and pasting.  It's not intended for that; it's not designed for that, why should anyone expect it be able to do that gracefully?  You might as well complain that a Boy Scout pocketknife lacks a pair of pliers and a wire stripper.  

You might, however, ensure that you have the most recent version of the Discussion Board building block.  We missed that on our recent SP11 upgrade, so we just have to gut it through until we can push some more updates after the term ends in August, before Fall gets underway.  

And just to be safe, avoid using IE.

"An educated mind without a focused will is useless.  An educated mind  without a loving heart  is dangerous." —Winfried Deijmann.

Top 500 Contributor
9 Posts

I do not see how this response is conductive in helping fix the issue.  I am merely pointing out the failure of blackboard to handle a copy paste and preserve the formatting.  In reading other posts it appears blackboard might crash your browser while trying to manually edit the formatting from the within blackboard itself.  This will cause you to lose the information you were trying to post.  Saying it was not designed for large text posts, therefore you are happy with the bug, is absurd.  Students are suppose to take great care in the presentation of any post, be it a comment or an essay.  Everything needs to look professional.  Furthermore, when my blog on blogspot.com can handle copy paste without issues and still preserve the formatting (which I might point out that blogspot was not designed for large essay posts either), I find it upsetting that your response is, it was not designed for that, therefore we will not support it, to be very distasteful.

I want my posts on blackboard to look professional, I also do not want to spend large amounts of time trying to mess with formatting inside blackboard.  I want to first write my posts in a word processor then copy paste them over to blackboard so I can save my work often.  Rule number one is computing is to save your work locally and often.  I want a local copy, I do not want to work in the cloud, I want to save, I want to copy paste.

I also want my posts to show up in the website as text, not as a downloadable file that others will have to open up in a separate program, then constantly switch screens back and fourth to respond to my post.

Top 10 Contributor
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8,091 Posts

Adam,

What specific problems are you seeing with pasting from Word into the discussion forums in SP12?  Just saying "this still does not work" is not a particularly helpful statement either.

Mike

 

Top 500 Contributor
9 Posts

It strips out all formatting, and has the same exact behavior as the initial poster of this topic pointed out.  I have tried on multiple browsers (all of which are supported as per the website on supported web browsers for SP12 states).  I have not been successful in getting any of the formatting to paste over into Blackboard.

Top 25 Contributor
Male
137 Posts

Adam, I don't work for Blackboard.  I'm an instructional designer, faculty trainer, and Blackboard sysad who has been dealing with Blackboard, with all its capabilities and limitations, for about  fifteen years, since CourseInfo version 2.x (Bb's late-90's predecessor.)  

I remember dealing with a professor who was irate that he couldn't format margins in the DB.  A student who was angry that there was no browser supported for the particular flavor of Linux he used.  And so on.  

Users have been complaining for YEARS about Bb's inability to handle cut-and-paste from Word. We sysads more often and louder than anyone, since we're the one that get the angry phone calls from students and profs.  I can't tell you how many times I've had to explain that cutting and pasting from Word, thanks to Microsoft's actions (not Blackboard's) makes things break.  

Try to understand this: It's not Blackboard's fault that when you use the Microsoft Windows select-and copy function to select and copy text from a Microsoft Word document, then paste it into a java applet running in Microsoft IE, that sixteen metric tons of Microsoft garbage XML code come along for the ride in the background and hose things up once they become part of the HTML content of the page.  

Blackboard has been slow to solve the problem, yes, but they are not the source of the problem.  Microsoft is. Whether or not other web-based tools accept MSW content or not is frankly irrelevant.

Now, then, Blackboard finally got a plugin for the text editor.  By all accounts it works pretty well most of the time.  Then they released a new version of the Text Editor (which had been in development and testing for  several years) in the latest Service Pack, and that was absolutely the FIRST thing I tested when the test server came online.  

So you might want to check with your campus IT to see if they've implemented the new tools and features.  As I  said, the Discussion Forums is now a Building Block and it needs to be updated from time to time as new stuff and bug fixes come out.

I expect my students to write clearly, use spell-check, and demonstrate critical thinking in their discussion board and forum posts.  If they want to use bold and italic,or even color for emphasis, that's fine.  But a Discussion Board tool is simply NOT  the correct tool for displaying content where formatting is critical.  Never has been.  

Save your document as a PDF and attach it if the formatting is really important.  Or write in Word without a lot of fancy fonts and formatting and copy and paste away; the latest version of Bb seems to handle this it ok IF your system is updated.

Regardless, avoid IE.

"An educated mind without a focused will is useless.  An educated mind  without a loving heart  is dangerous." —Winfried Deijmann.

Top 500 Contributor
9 Posts

forgot to mention, We do not have a 'paste from word' option, I asked my Universities IT department about it, they said that plugin was removed because it caused other issues.  It was not told to me what those other issues were.

Top 25 Contributor
Male
137 Posts

What kinds of formatting?  Bold, italic, strikethrough?  Color?  Font size?  Font? Centering? Indents?  Tabs?  Bullets and numbering?  Outline numbering?  

"An educated mind without a focused will is useless.  An educated mind  without a loving heart  is dangerous." —Winfried Deijmann.

Top 500 Contributor
9 Posts

I am not using any Microsoft products.  Slackware linux 14.0 64 bit with multilibs, Libre-office, I even tried Calligra (KDE's word processor).  This is NOT limited to a Microsoft issue.

Top 500 Contributor
9 Posts

As I stated earlier, ALL formatting.  I am not sure how to make this more precise.  Every single formatting option I have thrown at it from carriage returns, tabs, fonts, bullets, etc...

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