Quickstart Guide Getting Started (1) Planning your Course Content and Layout (2) Customizing your Course (2) The Control Panel (3)
Getting Started Log i n t o http://bb9.aamu.edu using your Blackboard Learn userid and password. On your Home tab there are two areas that list which courses you are registered as teaching on or participating in. MY COURSES lists your courses for the current academic year.
Choosing a Design (3) Course Banner (3) Creating your Navigation Menu (4) Adding Menu Items (4) Re-ordering Menu Items (5) Modifying Menu Items (5) Adding Content to your Course (5) Adding Announcements (5) Creating Folders in Content Areas (6) Adding Content (7) Copying/Moving Content (9) Making your Course Available (9) More Information/Help (9)
It is important to note the course is unavailable to students if the course name is greyed out. Students will be unable to access the course until you make it available to them. Making your course available is explained later in this guide.
Planning your Course Content and Layout The time that you spend thinking about the organization of your course and the material that you want to include will be well worth it. Think about the following: What information do you want to describe the course? Learning outcomes Assessment info and guidelines What supporting documents do you want to use? Handouts Session outlines/lecture notes Extra diagrams Revision sheets Are there assignments to complete? Topic revision tests â€“ 5/6 questions to check understanding Longer formative tests â€“ self-assessed with directive feedback Essay topics/titles and online submission Weekly problems and model answers End of course evaluation survey Are there external web sites students should access? Discipline-specific journals Association websites Important news feeds (RSS) Museum collections Planning your layout/look How do you want to structure the material? What communication tools do you want? What other tools do you want to use? Can you make your own course banner? Do you want text or button links? What color do you want to use? Before you begin adding things, you should have got a clear idea of your course and how you want it to look, and have also perhaps collected the documents you want to use together somewhere so that you have them to hand. The more time you give to thinking about structure will be worth the effort in the final product.
Customizing your Course If you have considered the planning questions above, you are ready to begin creating your course. Start by customizing the course in accordance with your ideas. If you are not the sole lecturer on the course you may wish to liaise with your colleagues to decide a structure and color scheme.
The Control Panel Course management tasks in Blackboard are done via the Control Panel. You should see the Control Panel at the bottom of the navigation menu (left hand side). This is not visible to students. The Control Panel is made up of links to various areas from which you can manage your course. Clicking on the downward-pointing chevrons next to an area will expand that area and allow you to view the associated options. Clicking the chevrons again will collapse the area. For example, expanding the ‘Evaluation’ option: Some areas have the option to click on chevrons pointing to the right. Clicking here will open that particular item in the main window and usually offer a brief description of any relevant tools.
Choosing a Design Style refers to the navigation style and color of the left-hand course menu. You can choose to use buttons or text navigation. You can also add dividing lines and sub-headings to your course menu. To change navigation options: 1. Under the Control Panel, expand the Customization option and choose Style.
2. Choose Buttons or Text for your menu items. If you choose buttons, use the ‘Button Library’ to select your preferred shape and style. If you choose to use text, select a background and text color. NB. White is the middle color on the right-hand column of the color picker. It is recommended to use the Text option for your menu navigation There are various other options you can change from here, including the Course Entry Point (the area that first loads upon entering the course). You can also add a Course Banner here (an image that displays at the opening of your course for identification purposes or to give a flavour of the course). 3. Click the Submit button. Discuss with colleagues whether there should be a house style – or perhaps allocate color to help you recognise courses in different years.
Course Banner For a banner, you can use any image (.jpg, .gif, .png, etc) that you have created in a graphics program like Adobe Fireworks. Be aware that the banner appears above your announcements (or whichever area is set as the course entry point), so if you use an image which fills the screen, your notices (or content) will be pushed down below it.
You can use one of the free banner generators available online to produce a text banner. http://cooltext.com/LogoBrowse.aspx http://www.flamingtext.com/net-fu/forms/banner.html The following, for example, was created with one of the online tools:
Creating your Navigation Menu A new course will be created with default text links to areas such as: Content Information Discussions Tools You may want to rename these according to the format you have decided on. You may also need to create new areas. If you do not want to use any of the default areas, don’t remove all of them before creating any of your own, or you will not be able to enter your course! To edit the course menu: 1. Ensure Edit Mode (top right of the screen) is turned on. You will notice your course menu now has various icons surrounding each menu item. You will also notice an add (+) button appears above your course menu.
Adding Menu Items If you hover over the add button you can choose to add different menu items. Content Area - an area into which you can add items, links, folders, etc. Tool Link - a direct link to one of the Blackboard tools; the course podcast series for example Course Link - a direct link to another location within this course External Link - a link to a particular URL or website Course Page - create a course ’homepage’ and perhaps use this as the entry point for your course Subheader - add sub-headings to help organize your course menu (will appear in bold with a dividing line above the text) Divider - add a dividing line to help organize your course menu
NB. Any empty content areas will automatically be hidden from students. They will also not be visible to you when Edit Mode is turned off. When you are in Edit Mode, empty content areas will be indicated with a dotted square icon.
Re-ordering Menu Items You must be in Edit Mode to re-order your course menu. Once you are in Edit Mode you can click and drag the up/down arrows to the left of each menu item and reposition as you choose. As you click and drag, a dotted rectangle outline will appear indicating where the menu item will be repositioned when you release the left mouse button.
Modifying Menu Items In Edit Mode, you can modify and remove your menu items. Clicking the down arrows next to a menu item will present all or some of the following options: Rename link - change the name of the menu item Location (course link only) - change the destination of the course link External Link (external link only) - change the URL (address) of the external link Set Link to Open in New/Current Window (external link only) - define whether the link opens in the current or a new browser window Hide/Show link - make the menu item available. Hide = unavailable, Show = available Deny/Permit Guests - allow ’guests’ (users not enrolled on the course) to view this item Delete - permanently remove menu item.
Adding Content to your Course Now you are ready to begin populating your course with content, according to the plan you made earlier. Things to think about are: Setting up folders for content – seminars etc. What type of content you want to include Whether the content will be typed in directly, copied from existing text materials, uploaded into or linked from Blackboard Time-release of content.
Adding Announcements Announcements can be a vital part of communicating with students. Students need though to be clear whether to look for notices on a physical noticeboard or on Blackboard, or both. 1. In the Control Panel, click the drop-down arrows to expand the Course Tools area and click Announcements.
2. Once the Announcements area has loaded, click Create Announcement. 3. Type a Subject and the text of your Message. 4. Tick the box by Display Until and select a date for the announcement to disappear. 5. If you wish to email the announcement, tick the box to Override User Notification Settings. 6. Click Browse to create a link if you want to draw attention to a newly posted item elsewhere in the course. 7. Click Submit.
Creating Folders in Content Areas The Add Folders feature allows you to create folders to help you organize and sort your course content. Folders make it easier for students to find documents by limiting the amount of scrolling they need to do and by identifying specific topics. There are two main ways of using folders to organize your material; content-based and chronological order. An example of content-based organization is creating a folder for all your lecture notes, another for readings, a third for presentations, etc. An example of chronological order is to create a folder for all Week One materials, another for Week Two etc. 1. From your Course Menu, click on the Content Area inside which you wish to add the new folder. e.g. Learning Materials. 2. Turn on Edit Mode. 3. Under the Build Content menu you will find Create Folder click this.
4. Type a Name for the folder. 5. Type a description of the contents into the Text field to help students navigate the course. This area will have a folder icon to help identify it as a folder.
6. Set any time release details. 7. Click the Submit button. When a folder is created, its name will appear underlined as a link. To add content to folders, click on the folder name to â€˜openâ€™ the folder.
Adding Content Adding content to Blackboard is easy. There is a step by step format which is quite like sending an email with a file attached. The steps and options you choose vary with the kind of content item you want to add, but the principle remains the same. To add content: 1. Navigate to the area into which you wish to add the item. 2. Turn on Edit Mode. Content can be added by using one of the four menus. These four menus give you access to a variety of items, tools, and resources.
For example, Create Item allows you to add a basic content item or to create folders, external links and course links (as well as other things). Create assessment includes the various assessment tools - tests, surveys, assignments, and self & peer assessment. Add Interactive Tool is where you can now find the option to add a discussion board or link to/create a group of students and all the additional tools such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, and virtual Classroom. The Assign Textbook button allows you to provide information about the textbook being used for the course. All content areas will contain the menu items above to allow you to create content. To add a basic item: 1. Click Create Item. 2. Type a name for the item in the Name field. You can attach files in two ways: By using the Attach or Link Content section, browsing for your file(s) and uploading By inserting the file(s) into the Text area. To use the Attach or Link Content method: 1. Click Browse to locate the file. 2. Type the text you want people to click on into the Name of Link to File field. 3. Under Special Action, the default is Create a link to file. Special Action Choices: Create a link to this file - Use this default option to create a link to a document or download. Display media file within the page - Use this option when working with graphic images or media files e.g. video clips you want to display within the page. You can also use it if you are uploading an html document. Unpackage this file - Use this option when uploading .zip files. This is typically used with PowerPoint presentations saved as HTML or collections of linked web pages.
4. Select the appropriate Options for the item. Note: if you want to time release material, you should set the basic visibility (‘Permit Users to View the Content Item’) to ‘yes’ and then choose date restrictions. Options Section: Permit Users to View the Content Item - ‘Yes’ means that your students can see the document. Typically, documents are made "invisible" (this option set to ‘No’) when you don't want students to access them yet. You can change this at any time. Track Number of Views - This option lets you track how often individual users view the document. Select Date and Time Restrictions - This option lets you set the dates that the document will be visible. 5. Scroll down and click the Submit button. 6. A green ‘Success’ receipt will be generated at the top of the screen and the new item added to the bottom of the existing list of content.
The alternative method - inserting the files into the text box editor area - is the recommended way to attach files. Using this method allows you to describe the files you are attaching and give them context within your description. For example, instead of using Section 2 to upload your files, type a description of your materials into the text box editor in Section 1. You can then upload your files via the text box editor and link parts of your text to them.
The Attach File button on the text editor toolbar will allow you to browse for your file(s) and choose some text to act as the link to the file. If you wish to change the order in which content appears, in Edit Mode, you can simply ‘drag and drop’ using the up/down arrows to the left of each item (similar to re-ordering your Course Menu). Once again, a dotted rectangle outline appears indicating where the item will be repositioned. You can see what the item looks like to the student by turning off Edit Mode.
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Copying/Moving Content Items and folders can be copied between areas of a course, and/or between your courses. With Edit Mode turned on, each item has two down arrows next to it. Clicking these arrows will open up a menu containing various options relating to the item. 1. To copy/move an item, click Copy. 2. Select the Destination Course (the default will be the course you are currently in). 3. Click Browse to open the Course Map; select the area or folder where you want to copy the folder/item; click Submit 4. If you Delete Item After Copy, then you move it! If you do not, then you retain the material where it is as well as place a copy in the destination course/folder. Copying/moving items involve standard steps that will become familiar to you as your use of Blackboard increases.
Making your Course Available When your course is set up the way you wish, you have an introductory announcement and some preliminary material (remember you can â€“ and should â€“ add new resources all through the year) then you must make your course available to students before they can access it. 1. From the Control Panel, under Customization select Properties. 2. In Section 3: Set Course Duration, make sure the Make Course Available option is Yes or change it to Yes. 3. Click Submit. 4. Welcome your students to Blackboard!
More Information/Help Further help and information is available online on the Information Technology website under The Center for Instructional Technology. Look for the Blackboard Learn link, where you find a wealth of valuable information and help for students and instructors. If you need more assistance, please feel free to call 372-4542.