Rose Colored Glasses

Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

What does an online course look like?

This short guide explains how to find your way around a Blackboard course.

After you have logged in to Blackboard, you can access any of your courses by clicking on the links in the Courses area of your Welcome page.

All Blackboard courses have an area on the left containing navigation buttons and an area on the right containing the course content.

blackboard course navigation menu

Click the navigation buttons to view different parts of the Blackboard course in the course content area of the screen. The course instructor can specify the number, color and design of these buttons, so some courses will look different than the example.

Click the small circular button just below the image to hide the navigation buttons – this can be useful if your PC has a small screen. Click it again to show the navigation buttons when you need them.

Announcements

Blackboard Announcements page

The Announcements page is the first thing you will see when you enter most Blackboard course. It is like an online notice-board with messages about the course posted by your instructor. Use the tabs labeled ‘View Last 30 Days’ or ‘View All’ to see announcements posted more than 7 days ago.

Note that some courses have a title graphic above the announcements – but most do not.

Course Description

Blackboard course description page

The Course Description area contains administrative info and documents, such as the course outline, reading list, class rules, learning assessment guidelines and required browser plug-ins. Some of the information may be directly readable, while other information may be provided in linked files – simply click the link to view the file. The file is displayed in the content area.

Use your Web browser’s Back button to return to the Course Description page or use any of the navigation buttons to move directly to that area of the course.

Resource Room /Course Documents

Many instructors use Blackboard to give you easy access to lecture notes, presentations and other learning resources.

Blackboard resource room file layout

Folders are often used to organize the learning resources for each module – click the link to open the folder. Again, some of the information may be directly readable, while other information may be provided in linked files – simply click the link to view the file. The selected file is displayed in the content area (white area of the screen).

If you are a member of the online MBA program this section of the course site provides module objectives, assignment instructions and multimedia resources.

If you are a student in one of the other USP educational programs the content in this area will vary, and the button name may change, so please explore!

See other guides in this section for further advice on viewing, downloading and printing files.

Meet the Instructor / Staff Information

The Meet the Instructor area contains your instructor’s email address, office hours (both virtual and on campus), teaching philosophy and credentials. This section also contains a description of how the course fits within the program curriculum.

Course Tools

Blackboard course tools area

The Course Tools area has links to the calendar, digital drop box, and my grades tools – but note that not all of them may be used in a course.

See other guides in this section for further details on the use of these communication features.

 

The breadcrumb trail

Blackboard breadcrumb trail

A ‘breadcrumb trail’ appears at the top of each Blackboard page and tells you where you are. It contains links to help you retrace your steps.

Other content areas

Your instructor may have created buttons that link to other course content areas – such as web links, labs or project work. You should explore these areas to discover what they contain.

Note that some areas may have no content at the start of the course – your instructor will make it available at the appropriate time and let you know in person, by email or with an announcement.

Communications

The Communications area has links to the discussion board, group pages, roster and send email – but note that not all of them may be used in a course. Courses that use discussion boards will also have a direct navigation button on the course menu.

Blackboard communication tools menu

See other guides in this section for further details on the use of these communication features.

The Course Map

Blackboard navigation mapThe Course Map button opens a new window that contains a linked overview of the whole course.

Click on a + icon to the left of a content area link to view a list of the items it contains, then click on one of those links to jump straight to that item.

The course map window always stays on top of the main Blackboard window. To close the course map, click on the "Close" link in the top right-hand corner of the pop-up window or click the standard Windows close icon.

You can click the My Institution tab at any time to return to your Welcome page.

Information

This entry was posted on April 9, 2006 by in Blackboard 8.
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