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Blackboard Tips & Tricks Edit Mode There are a few different flavors of “Student View” in Blackboard. One version, “Edit Mode”, is a toggle to turn off editing abilities. When Edit Mode is turned on, clicking on an item will not go to the content; Blackboard will pull up the settings of the content. Therefore, the only way to preview the content is to turn Edit Mode off. This feature leads to a lot of frustration as it is easy to forget to toggle.

To view content

Course Syllabus

To edit content

Office Hours

Required Readings

Note that Edit Mode is not a totally accurate representation of what students can see. It will mimic access restrictions (such as hidden files), but it is not a reliable indicator of the student experience. Consult information regarding the Test Student and In-Private Browsing for more information.

Navigation Notification in Modern Browsers Most newer browsers have eliminated the dedicated navigation bar at the bottom of the window. Instead, the real estate has been reclaimed for content. However, when hovering over a link, the proposed address will appear in the lower left-hand corner of the browser. It will float above existing content, which might limit visible access to the content. This happens often in Blackboard. In the adjacent example, the link for “Tasks” is obscured because the cursor is over a link. The situation is easily remedied by moving the cursor down over the floating information. The issue is easy to ameliorate, however it is annoying because it will consistently prohibit users from seeing content that should be visible. This is a deficiency of the browser, not of Blackboard.

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Quick Tips Some of these tips help keep classes well organized, and well designed (from a usability standpoint): 

In the Course Menu, use “dividers” to visually break up areas

In the Course Menu, indent titles by using one   for every space desired

Rearrange content by “drag and dropping” it (this can be done in any Folder or Learning Module, as well as the Course Menu)

When using the Content Collection, practice good file hygiene from the beginning!

Use [Shift] + [Enter] to start a new line of text without skipping any spaces

When creating tables, configure their width to be a percent, not a defined pixel size

Use the Calendar feature; it is easy to use and can be imported to students calendars Office of Online Learning

Test Student Blackboard offers a bona fide way to experience the course as a student - through an actual account with student rights. The onus is on the faculty to add the Test Student to their course(s), and adopt a workflow that permits them to go between the student perspective and the teacher perspective (check out In Private Browsing).

You can use this feature to create a test student account, then enroll this student in your current course to be able to view the course as a student.

You cannot change this.


From the Course Tools menu, choose “Add Test Student”.

You can create (and change) the password

The login name will be the same as the instructors login name, with a “_s” appended at the end. This is immutable. Choose a password, ensure the student is enrolled, and then submit.

Keep this box checked.

In-Private Browsing In-Private browsing is a newer feature in most web browsers that allows for multiple sessions of one browser to run independently. For example, if a user is logged in as the instructor in Blackboard in Internet Explorer, they can open a “In-Private” browsing window, which will allow them to login to Blackboard with the Test Student account. Both windows can remain open concurrently with no interference. Each browser has different nomenclature for this mode, but most browsers support it. Either use the following information to launch an In-Private window, or search for it under the File or Settings menus in the browser. BROWSER



Google Chrome


[Control] + [Shift] + [N]

Microsoft Internet Explorer Mozilla Firefox

In-Private Browsing Private Browsing

[Control] + [Shift] + [P] [Control] + [Shift] + [P]

Apple Safari

Private Browsing


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Office of Online Learning

Content Editor There are two ways of displaying the Content Editor—Simple Mode and Advanced Mode. By default, the editor is in Simple Mode. However, by clicking the button, the toolbar will be expanded and reveal all the editing tools (Blackboard should remember this configuration and open in Advanced Mode in future sessions).

Reveal Advanced Mode Full Screen Help Preview

The Advanced Mode Content Editor empowers the user with more tools. Most of the tools in this menu are similar to those found in Microsoft Word. Editing tools that are especially powerful in Blackboard include:

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Remove Formatting

Highlight Color

Font Color

Spell Check

Defined Space

Customized Line

Edit CSS

Unmerge Cell

Merge Cells

Delete Column

Insert Column Right

Insert Column Left

Delete Row


Edit HTML Code

Horizontal Line

Right of Cursor

Left of Cursor Insert Row Below

Insert Row Above

Cell Properties

Row Properties


Insert Table

Insert Anchor

Insert Emoticons

Insert Symbol

Block Quote

View Nonprintables

Insert Mashup

Lines and Spaces Tools



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Numbered List

Bulleted List Remove Link

Link Properties



Position Links








Undo Equation Editor


Font Size

Font Face

Paragraph Styles




Underline Paste

Find and Replace Insert Media

Tables: improved table design interaction

Font Settings



Insert Image

Insert Symbol: inserts a symbol


Video Everywhere: allows the user to embed a video (made from a webcam and housed in YouTube on the fly)



Insert File

Defined Space: Analogous to the HTML   this preserves whitespace


Customized Line: inserts a line (of user specification) horizontally in the text

Text Decoration

Video Everywhere

Remove Formatting: strips all existing formatting from the selected text

Office of Online Learning

Types of Content Blackboard equips instructors with an arsenal of content types. Although there may be compelling reasons to use the specialized content types, most users will use only a few different types (outlined below). To add content to a “Content Area�, and choose from the drop-down list. The content will reside in the area where it was created, but can be modified and moved at any time.




A general piece of content, such as a file, image, text, or link which a description and other items can be attached.


An HTML file that you can use in your course. These files can be viewed as a page within your course or as a separate piece of content in a separate browser window.

Audio | Image | File

Upload files from your computer and incorporate them in a course area.

Web Link

Link to an outside website or resource.

Learning Module

A set of content that includes a structured path for progressing through the items.

Lesson Plan

A special content type that combines information about the lesson itself with the curriculum resources used to teach it.


Enables you to attach an existing syllabus file or build a course syllabus by walking through a series of steps

Course Link

A shortcut to an item, tool, or area in a course.

Content Folder

A course area that contains content items. Folders allow content to be structured with a hierarchy or categories.

Blank Page

The blank page tool allows you to include files, images, and text as a link in a course area. Blank pages present content in a different way than items do. There is no description that appears below the title of the page. Users see your content only after clicking the link.

Module Page

A page containing dynamic personalized content modules that help users keep track of tasks, tests, assignments, and new content created in the course.


Mashups allow you to include content in a course that is from an external website. Three types of Mashups are available: Flickr Photo: Link to a site for viewing and sharing photographic images YouTube: Link to a site for viewing and sharing online videos SlideShare: Link to a site for viewing and sharing PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, or Adobe PDF Portfolios

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Office of Online Learning

Move the “My Organizations” Module on the “My Institution” Page Some modules on the landing page in Blackboard that are used more often than others, although they are not - be default - arranged in order of frequency. In particular, the module “My Organizations” is at the bottom of the page (and may require scrolling to get to). This module is important because it contains links to the organizations any user is affiliated with (in the Pilot, this would be the Pilot1 Migration Resources organization. Since this particular module will be accessed often (as will other organizations in Blackboard), it is efficient to relocate the module to a more accessible location.

To move any module, simply click and drag. In this example, the “My Organizations” module was moved below the “My Courses” module. This makes it easier to access the Organizations. There are other modules that can be added to the “My Institution” landing page, as well. Click on the “Add Module” button in the upper left corner of the page. A list of available modules (with description) will appear. Click on the module(s) to add, and then click on “OK” at the bottom of the page. Rearrange the modules as desired.

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Office of Online Learning

MCC - Blackboard Tips and Tricks  

Usability tips for using Blackboard.

MCC - Blackboard Tips and Tricks  

Usability tips for using Blackboard.