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Blackboard Basics (faculty)

User Name & Password

USP Blackboard splash screen

In the middle of the screen is information about usernames and passwords. Information about student usernames and passwords can be found here. Faculty usernames are the same as the email username. Faculty passwords are generally the entire last name in lowercase letters. Instructions on changing passwords can be found in a later section of this tutorial.

Login

Click on the button to Login. You will go to a new screen where you will enter your username and password. Click on Login. You are now logged on to Blackboard!

USP Blackboard login screen

Welcome

You will notice your name at the top of the screen. All of your Blackboard items and links can be found here. Any courses that you are teaching or otherwise involved in will be shown here, as well as links to changing your password, announcements, and information from Blackboard.

my institution screen

Change Password

To the left of the screen you will notice a green box labeled Tools. Personal Information is the last link in the list. Please click on this and then click on Change Password. The first time you login to Blackboard you should change your password. Please change it to something that you will remember (such as a password you already use for another application, such as e-mail). You will need to type your password twice and then click on the Submit button at the bottom of the page. You will receive confirmation that your password has been updated and click on OK. You are now at the list of items for Personal Information. Click on OK again and you?ll be back to the Welcome page.

If you forget your password, please e-mail bbhelp@usip.edu and it can be reset.

My Courses

my courses screen

On the right side of the Welcome page is an alphabetical list of the courses that you are teaching and/or enrolled in. Courses in which you may be enrolled in can include: Faculty Council, Faculty Sub-Council, a department page, and Tips for Instructors.

Courses are listed alphabetically, which can get confusing if you teach multiple sections of a course and/or teach a course several different semesters. Once a semester is complete, Blackboard administrators list courses as ‘unavailable’. Students no longer have the course on their list in Blackboard and instructors, while still able to access the course, can easily see that it is not current. This option does not work for multiple sections of the same course in the same semester, though.

Tabs at Top of Welcome Page

Blackboard Tabs
course list

Above the word ‘Welcome’ there are two tabs: My Institution and Courses. Click on My Institution and the current page refreshes itself. You can click on My Institution from anywhere in Blackboard and you will come back here. Now click on Courses. This brings you to a new page with your Course List (see sample on the next page). It is still alphabetical, but here there is some additional information about the course, including the course ID. The course ID consists of the year, department, course number, and section number. An example would be 05.FA.PP.480.01.

Click on the My Institution tab to return to the Welcome page.

Announcements

announcements screen

Announcements can be found both in the center section of the screen titled ‘My Announcements’ and as part of the list of courses under My Courses. Blackboard users have immediate access to announcements when they login and do not have to open a course page to see new announcements. System-wide announcements (i.e. school closings, server downtime, etc) are found under My Announcements and are also listed first in the list of announcements on the course page.

Course Page

Click on the name of the course (either from the list of My Courses from the Welcome page or from the list under the Courses tab) to open the course page. This is what the student (and you) will see:

course page

Announcements

The course page will open and default to the Announcements page. The instructor can change the default, but it is not advised.

Announcements default to ‘View Last 7 Days’ and there are tabs to ‘View Today’, ‘View Last 30 Days’ and ‘View All’. System-wide announcements will show up first on this list.

Course Menu

The Course Menu is listed on the left side of the screen. The functions of the menu components are listed below:

  • Announcements – see the previous page for more information. 
  • Course Information – syllabus and other important material about the course should be placed here
  • Staff Information – information about the instructor(s) is placed in this area; can include information such as e-mail, phone, office location, and office hours
  •  Course Documents – this is where the bulk of your information will be located; hand outs, supplemental material, class notes, etc.
  • Assignments – self-explanatory
  • Communication – area to send e-mail to class participants, open the Discussion Board, view the roster, view group pages (if created), enter the Virtual Classroom, and view announcements
  • Discussion Board – the discussion board can be accessed here; great place to expand on a topic discussed in class, receive feedback from students, allow students to ask questions
  • External Links – connects users to resources outside the course 
  • Blackboard Tools – Tools that can be used in the Course. These include: Digital Drop Box, Edit Home Page, Personal Information, Calendar, View Grades, Student Manual, Tasks, The Electric Blackboard®, and Address Book.

The order of items in the course menu can be rearranged and components can be deleted, added, and/or renamed. If you do not intend to use a particular component it would be best to delete it.

Control Panel

All this is well and good, but you want to actually manipulate the content and add/delete items.

control panel button

At the bottom of the Course Menu is a link for ‘Control Panel’. Students do NOT have this link available to them, only the instructor(s) for the particular course.

Click on the Control Panel link. A new page will appear with six boxes: Content Areas, Course Tools, Course Options, User Management, Assessment, and Help.

Content Areas

Content Areas include: Course Information, Course Documents, Assignments, and External Links.

Some instructors choose not to use to the Assignments component but to place that information either in the syllabus or as part of Course Documents. It is important to be consistent so that your students know where to find the information they are looking for. If partway through the course you decide to use the Assignments section, make sure to let your students know. Creating an announcement, with a link, would be a great use of the Announcement tool. More on this later.

Course Information

Click on Course Information. Your screen should look like the following:

course information screen

Note the grey bar across the top:

tools bar

Blackboard is very consistent and you will find a similar grey bar in almost all areas of the Control Panel.

Under Course Information, Course Documents, Assignments, and External Links the grey bar looks the same. It is the type of content in these areas that will be different.

Course Information is typically a syllabus and perhaps a few other pieces of general information (see sample below).

populated course information screen

Adding Course Materials

Content Information:

  • Choose a name from the drop-down box or type in a name of your own choosing.
  • You can specify a color (default is black) by clicking on [pick].
  • Information can be typed in the text box, though this does not have to be used. Many people choose to attach a document that has been previously typed in Word.

Content:

content options

  • Files can be attached to the information by clicking on the [browse] button. This works similarly to adding an attachment to an e-mail. Once you locate the document on your computer, click on [Open] to attach the file.
  • Name of File to Link: Enter the name of the file you have attached
  • Special Action: No action needed unless you are attaching a media file or zipped file
  • If any files are already linked to this item, they will be listed here

Options:

options

  • Make the content available – this defaults to ‘yes’. If you choose ‘no’, the students will be unable to see this item. This option is good to use if you are still working on something and/or you are not ready for the student to view the information.
  • Add offline content – this defaults to ‘no’. Offline content is a direct path to a specified file on a drive, usually a CD-ROM. To access this file, users must have the correct CD-ROM in their computer. You cannot attach a file AND add offline content to the same item.
  • Track number of views – also defaults to ‘no’. Some instructors opt to see statistics on a particular item. You can view the results from the Control Panel under User Statistcs.
  • Add metadata – Select ‘Yes’ to add metadata. Metadata is information about the added item, such as ownership, resource format, and copyright information. If this option is selected ‘Describe’ will appear next to the item in the Course area. Click [Describe] to access the Content Metadata page.
  • Choose date restrictions – This enables you to select very precise dates that information is available. Students can only access the items with the dates. Making NO choices in this option allows the material to be immediately accessed with no date restriction.

Submit:

  • Click on Submit at the bottom of the page.
  • You will see a receipt page letting you know that the action was successful.
  • Click on OK.

submit selection

Your first item has now been attached!

Modify/Copy/Remove an Item

You’ve attached your first item (or perhaps several items) and realize that there’s a typo. To the right of the item there are three buttons: Modify, Copy, and Remove. Clicking on Modify will open the item and you can make your changes. Remember to click on Submit at the bottom of the page.

The item that you have created may need to go in another section. For example, you have accidentally added a homework assignment, which you want to place in Assignments, in the Course Information section. Clicking on Copy allows you to move the item.

There are times when you have added an item that you’ve decided does not need to be on the course page at all. Clicking on Remove will delete the item.

content menu

Click on OK to return to the Control Panel.

Course Documents

Before adding your course documents, you need to think about how you want to arrange your information. Do you want a list of items? Do you want to set up weekly folders and put the appropriate class documents in them? Do you prefer to have subject folders? See the examples below: Let’s now add a folder in Course Documents. From the Control Panel, click on [Course Documents]. To add a folder, Click on [Folder].

course documents

Adding Folders

Folder Information:

  • Choose a name from the drop-down box or type in a name of your own choosing.
  • You can specify a color (default is black) by clicking on [pick].
  • Basic information about the folder can be typed in the Text box. Remember, this is just a folder with information inside of it.

folder information

Options:

bb image

  • Make the folder available – this defaults to ‘yes’. If you choose ‘no’, the students will be unable to see this item. This option is good to use if you are still working on something and/or you are not ready for the student to view the information.
  • Choose date restrictions – This enables you to select very precise dates that information is available. Students can only access the items with the dates. Making NO choices in this option allows the folder to be immediately accessed with no date restriction.

Submit:

submit section

  • Click on Submit at the bottom of the page.
  • You will see a receipt page letting you know that the action was successful.
  • Click on OK.

You now have a folder that should look similar to this:

course documents section

Adding Items to a Folder

To add items to your folder, first click on the name of your folder. Your screen will look similar to adding a folder.

folder item

Please note that Blackboard is very consistent. You are always going to be adding something – listed on a grey bar – and then you will submit it.

Click on Item. The screen will look similar to that for adding a folder, but there is a content section and additional options.

Content Information:

  • Choose a name from the drop-down box or type in a name of your own choosing.
  • You can specify a color (default is black) by clicking on [pick].
  • Information can be typed in the text box, though this does not have to be used. Many people choose to attach a document that has been previously typed in Word (other types of documents may also be added).

content information form

Content:

content upload form

  • This is where you can attach a document that you have already created in Word (Excel, Powerpoint, Adob, etc). Click on Browse and search for the document you would like to add (this works just like adding an attachment to an e-mail).
  • You may choose to give the file a name.
  • Special Action is only necessary if you are adding a media or zipped file.
  • If you have any files already attached, they will be listed.

Options:

  • Make the content available – this defaults to ‘yes’. If you choose ‘no’, the students will be unable to see this item. This option is good to use if you are still working on something and/or you are not ready for the student to view the information.
  • options form

  • Add offline content – use this option if you are adding links to a cd-rom. Please note that
    • all of the students accessing this will need the cd-rom and
    • you cannot add both a document AND offline content to the same item.
  • Track number of views – used to track the number of times this individual item has been accessed. General course statistics are available from the Course Statistics link on the Control Panel.
  • Add metadata – Stores information about a content item.
  • Choose date restrictions – This enables you to select very precise dates that information is available. Students can only access the items with the dates. Making NO choices in this option allows the item to be immediately accessed with no date restriction.

Submit:

  • Click on Submit at the bottom of the page.
  • You will see a receipt page letting you know that the action was successful.
  • Click on OK.

Add another item to your folder. This time, under Options, make the item unavailable. After submitting the item, note the difference between the available and unavailable items in your folder.

Adding an External Link

Within your folder, click on External Link. The Add Item screen looks a bit different from the screens to add a folder or item. External Links require both a name and the URL for the web page. The entire URL is needed (ex. http://www.yahoo.com).

External Link Information:

add item form

  • Type the name of the webpage.
  • Enter the full URL of the page. [Hint: open another browser, go to the webpage you want to link to, use the copy function to copy the URL, paste the URL in to Blackboard.]
  • Description – you can add a brief description of the webpage here.

External Link:

  • Generally when adding a link to a web page you are not adding any documents to the page. This section can be ignored.

Options:

  • Make the External Link available – this defaults to ‘yes’. If you choose ‘no’, the students will be unable to see this item.
  • options form

  • Open in new window – this defaults to ‘no’. ‘Yes’ is actually a better option, as the web page will open in a new browser and the student will be able to refer back to Blackboard easily.
  • Track number of views – used to track the number of times this individual item has been accessed. General course statistics are available from the Course Statistics link on the Control Panel.
  • Add metadata – Stores information about a content item.
  • Choose date restrictions – This enables you to select very precise dates that information is available. Students can only access the items with the dates. Making NO choices in this option allows the item to be immediately accessed with no date restriction.

Submit:

  • Click on Submit at the bottom of the page.
  • You will see a receipt page letting you know that the action was successful.
  • Click on OK.

Adding Anouncements

Click on Announcements under Course Tools and your screen will look similar to those you’ve seen before, except the grey bar is much shorter. The only option is to [Add Announcement]. Click on this.

Announcement Information:

  • Enter a Subject (required)
  • Type in the text of your announcement in the Message area.

add announcements form

Options:

  • Always show this announcement – defaults to ‘no’. Most announcements are for a short timeframe and do not need to be permanent.
  • Choose date restrictions – This enables you to select very precise dates that information is available. Students can only access the items with the dates. Making NO choices in this option allows the item to be immediately accessed with no date restriction.

options menu

Course Link:

  • Here is where you can create a link from the announcements page to a specific section of the course.

Course link form

Click on Browse and the Course Map will open

select location screen

The + symbol indicates that there is additional items inside, click on the + to open further.

Once you find the item you want to link to (you can use an item under course documents, as you probably don’t have anything in Assignments right now), click in the round circle beside it.

select a location screen

  • And then click on Submit (in the Course Map box).
  • Once you are finished creating the announcement, click on Submit at the bottom of the page.
  • On the receipt page, click ok (if it says that the ‘item is not available’, ignore this as it is a bug). -You have now created an announcement with a link. Keep in mind that most announcements probably will not have or need a link. You can just skip over adding the link.

announcements view

User Management

enroll user form

You have the ability to hand-enroll the students in your class. While this is fine for a class of 20 students, it is very impractical for a class of 300. IT is scheduled to load the students into the courses on Blackboard the Friday before classes begin and then twice a week through the end of drop/add. You should still know who to add students, as adding other instructors and TA’s works essentially the same way.

Under User Management, click on Enroll User. You should see a screen like this:

list modify users screen

You can search by a person’s last name, username, or email. Type a last name in the search box and click on Search. Click in the box next to the person’s name and click on Submit. The person has been added as a STUDENT in your course. You may be adding an additional instructor, so now you will need to Modify the person’s role. From the Control Panel, click on List/Modify User. Search for the person’s name and the screen will look similar to the following (see next page):

Click on Properties and scroll down to number 4 – Role and Availability.

Click in the circle to the left of Instructor and then click on Submit. The role has been updated.

Closing Comments

This ends the Basic Blackboard training. There is much more to Blackboard than this. We encourage you to play around and try out new things. And as time allows you may what to view the Intermediate, Advanced, and function specific tutorials.

Information

This entry was posted on April 10, 2006 by in Blackboard 8.

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