Downloading, Completing, and Uploading Blackboard Assignments using PDF Expert


The PDF Expert app can be configured for reviewing and annotating files from Blackboard using an iPad and Apple Pencil. This can be a useful method for students to complete assignments that require annotating an assignment file, or for instructors who want to use annotation to provide feedback on student submissions. Once PDF Expert is set up, you can use it to import any files saved to your iPad. The guide below covers steps for students completing an assignment, but most of the steps also apply to instructors interested in utilizing the app for annotating student submissions. 

Downloading, Completing, and Annotating Files with PDF Expert 

Video: Downloading, completing and uploading Blackboard assignments using PDF Expert

Step 1: Create folders on your iPad for downloading files 

  1. Open the Files app represented by a folder icon in your pages of applications. 

  1. Select the Browse icon on the bottom right. 

  1. In the left-hand column, select On My iPad. This will display a folder called Downloads where all files downloaded from Safari are stored by default. 

  1. Create a new folder by tapping and holding on the screen, then selecting New Folder. Or use two fingers and swipe down to reveal a toolbar that includes an icon on the left-hand side for creating a new folder. 

  1. Create folders for each course or group of assignments so you will be able to organize your downloads. 

Step 2: Install and configure PDF Expert 

  1. Select the Self Service app on your iPad. 

  1. Search for the app PDF Expert and then tap the Install button

  1. After the app has installed, it will appear on your iPad alongside other installed apps. Tap the PDF Expert icon to open the app. 

  2. Tap Get Started

  3. Decline to purchase the pro version by tapping the X button in the top left. 

  4. Click on the settings icon represented by a gear in the bottom left of the screen. 

  5. On the settings page for file manager, toggle off the options to Show Photos and iTunes Files. 

  6. Select Sidebar from the left-hand menu, then tap the options to hide Computer, and PDF Expert iCloud. Then close the settings window. 

Step 3: Download files from Blackboard 

  1. Open the Blackboard app from your iPad, and then select a course where you are enrolled.
    NOTE: Faculty use the Blackboard Instructor app.

  1. Find the assignment attachment you want to download, open it up, and the tap on the three dots in the upper right.

  2. Select Export from the options that appear. This will open an option to Save to Files.

  3. Select the Save to Files button, then select one of the folders you previously created in step 1. You will have the option to rename the file.

  4. Select Save to initiate the download. 

Step 4: Review and annotate assignments using PDF Expert 

  1. Close out of the Blackboard app and select the PDF Expert app. 

  1. Tap the plus icon in the bottom right, then select Files to import the assignment(s) you downloaded. 

  1. Select the folder and file you want to import. It will then appear under My Files in PDF Expert. 

  1. Tap the file name to open it in PDF Expert. You can use the options in the toolbar on the top to configure different colors, weights, and sensitivity settings for your Apple Pencil. 

  1. Use your Apple Pencil to annotate the file. You can tap your Pencil twice at any point to change it to an eraser tool. 

Step 5: Save annotated file  

  1. When finished annotating the file, click the three dots on the top right of the screen and select the Share option. 

  1. On the next screen, select the Flattened Copy option before tapping Share. This will merge your annotations to the file so that they are no longer editable. 

  1. Select Save to Files. You can change the name of the file to differentiate it from the original before tapping Save

Step 6: Upload completed file back to Blackboard

  1. Open the Blackboard app and navigate to the assignment you wish to submit the annotated file. 

  1. Select the Add Content button and then select Add File to upload your document. You can also select Add Text if you want to include a note with the submission. 

  1. After selecting Add File, select the Files option and then navigate to the document you completed. Make sure to select the flattened version to include your annotations. 

  1. Select Submit from the bottom right. 

Strategies for annotation with PDF Expert 

  • Create a consistent folder structure on your iPad for organizing files downloaded from Blackboard so that they will be easy to locate when you import into PDF Expert. 

  • When sharing a file using PDF Expert, be sure to select the “Flattened Copy” option to prevent your annotations from remaining editable. 

  • There are many options for configuring the color, weight, and display of your annotations. Use a consistent configuration when writing answers that provides sufficient contrast and legibility so that they are accessible to the viewer. 


Article ID: 117279
Tue 9/29/20 3:47 PM
Tue 9/29/20 3:57 PM
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