Customizing Elements of Your Course
The system allows for limited customization of your course view, including:
- The color palette of the default home page
- The menu font and background color
- Content view
- Course entry point
- Course banner
Customize the Default Home Page
You can customize the color palette of the default course home page (module page) as follows:
The remaining elements can be customized using the Customization menu on the Control Panel:
You can opt for either a list or folder view:
Default Content View
Select Course Entry Point and Select Banner
You can select any course menu link as the default entry point for your course. Once change, you and all of your students will see the selected page when you click on the course link from the MY Courses List on the My Institution tab. For example, you could link to your syllabus for the first week of class, then switch the course home page to announcements to ensure that students see any announcements you post during the term:
Basic communication with students
|Image, audio or video file||cc||Blank Page|
- In Edit Mode, access the Content Area from the Course Menu.
- Click on Build Content, then select Create > Item.
- On the Create Item page, enter the item’s Name and description or content if desired.
- To attach a file, click Browse to locate the file. Add multiple files using the Text Editor’s Attach File function.
- Under Options, Yes for Permit Users to View the Content Item is selected by default.
- Click Submit.
An item can contain text, a file, images, and other types of content. If text is entered, it can be formatted using the Text Editor.
The additional options in #3 above allow you to track the number of views and set release date and time restrictions (The basic building block of Adaptive Release). You should note that Track Number of Views enables recording and tracking of views of the content area, and not the individual item.
Edit an Item's Name or Availability
Select the Action menu immediately to the left of the item title:
You can add a file to the content frame by selecting File under the Build Content menu. This takes you to the following screen:
The title of the file and file icon now shows in teh content area. Students will see the pdf file when they click on the title.
Images, audio, and video files are added to the content frame in much the same way. Here we will go through the steps for adding an image and then detail the different options that are available for each file type.
In the Build Content menu, select image:
You will upload audio and video files in much the same way: selecting the file, naming it, and using the same standard options. The individual file options will allow you to do the following:
You can also add these files to other content items using the text editor.
A learning module is a specific structure in which you can organize content related to a specific week, text chapter or chapter set, major course theme, etc. A content area functions in much the same way as a module, so this structure is unnecessary unless you prefer students to view content in a specific sequence. The module is created similarly to other content – when you click on Learning Module under the Build Content tab, you will be prompted to enter a name, then a description in the text editor. The primary difference is in the settings that you can apply to a learning module:
To create a link to any other element in your course, select Course Link under the Build Content menu, then:
You may want to create a folder within content area to store specific items such as articles, supplemental readings, or an assignment set. To create a folder, select Content Folder under the Build Content menu:
A blank page displays content similar to a web link. You can also attach files to a blank page. Select Blank Page under the Build Content menu, then:
Adding Content to Your Course
There are a number of ways that you can add content to your course, and how you structure that content can vary depending on your subject matter, assessment methods, and teaching style.
Some instructors primarily use course menu links to create content, while others use content areas, or both. Further you can build content using the control panel and link to this content when structuring your course.
Add Content using a Content Area
The Content Area is the most flexible component that Bb Learn provides for building content in your course. You can also create assessments and tool links in a content area, and you can also display text book information for your course.
The content area mimics a folder or a learning module in that you can add several items in a content area (including a learning module or a content folder) and arrange those items in a form that is digestible for students. If you want to force students to view content in a sequence, it is more convenient to use the learning module tool than a content area.
The build content menu allows you to add any of the following content types:
• Items, which can contain text, files, and images
• Individual tool links
• External Links
• Multimedia (audio, video, slide presentations)
• Course Links
• Module Pages
• Tests and surveys
The Create Assignment and Add Interactive Tools Menus
Add Files to the Course Content Collection Area
You can add files or folders to the content collection area in two ways:
- Via the Upload dropdown menu
- By dragging and dropping files from your desktop or documents folder.
You can add additional files or remove a file you have selected any time prior to hitting the Submit button. You can also select from a number of file options:
The Content Collection Area
Online course materials and activities can be organized in a number of different ways. The framework and structure will vary depending upon the educational goals and instructional preferences of the instructor. Some major organizational categories include:
- Chronologically by week.
- By chapters in the textbook being used.
- By units or modules based upon subject-specific concepts or theories
- By complexity of the content or ideas being introduced.
- By some combination of the preceding approaches
The identification of a framework will allow you to organize a course map. Once you've done this, the next step is to create a folder and sub-folder structure on your computer that mirrors the organizing framework you have identified in your course map. The prep work building the course map will help you save time when building your course.
This folder structure will make it easier for you to find and keep track of your content. You can mirror this folder structure in Blackboard Learn's Content Collection area, which will make it easy for you to find and links to your various content files in your course. For example, if you have decided that you will organize and group the content in your course based on lessons organized by week, you should begin by creating a folder on your PC labeled with your course title, then create sub-folders labeled with each weekly lesson title within this folder.
You can upload files and folders of files from your computer directly to Blackboard for later use. You can upload text files, PDFs, video files, audio files, and even web content files. This feature is useful if you want to add all of your course documents to the site and store them there, adding them to appropriate portions of the site when you need. You should organize the content collection area in a similar manner to your course structure on your hard drive. This will make it easier to find files for editing or removal.
You should note that there is a size limit on your course. To avoid exceeding this limit, and to ensure that students can access content from various connection types and speeds, you should use our streaming services to deliver video/audio files of any substantial size. To access the cotnent collection area, take the following steps:
You should create a folder structure that reflects the organization of your course; alternatively, you can create htis folder structure on your desktop and upload it to your course.
You can view the content collection area as a list (shown above), or you can view as thumbnails:
Add files to content collection
The Control Panel
Most tools can be created using one of two approaches:
- Create a content area and build the tool using the Add Interactive Tool menu
- Build the tool using the Tools link in the control panel, then link to it in a content area or on the course menu
The control panel is the blue menu structure immediately below the course menu on the left side of your screen. While you can always see this panel, even while viewing with edit mode off, the student never sees the control panel.
You have access to the following through the control panel:
Each of these links will be explained in more detail in later portions of this help guide. Here, we're primarily concerned with content collection.
The content collection area
Create Course menu Links
You can add links of various types to the course menu:
Create a Content Area Link
The Create Blank Page box looks exactly the same as that for Add Content Area
Create a Tool Link
Add a Course Link
Add an External Link
Module Pages, Subheaders and dividers
The Control Panel
The Course Menu
The course menu can be used to structure your course. You can use the course menu as the fundamental navigation component of a course, you can set up your course to primarily use the content frame and use the menu for peripheral, or you can create any combination of menu and content area designs that suit your course subject, structure, and teaching approach.
You can manage the course menu using the menu’s Create item function (A):
By right-clicking on the sign, you can access the drop-down menu of items (B) that you may add to your course menu. You can add the following menu items:
A frame that allows you to build various types of content, add assessments, or add tools to your course
Displays content similar to a web link, and also allows you to attach content files
A link to one of the available tools in the course (e.g. a wiki, blog, or discussion board)
A link to another part of the course
A link to external content on the web
A link to selected modules, this is structured in the same way as the default course home page
A navigation aid for a subset of course components
A line that separates menu items
You can also change the way you view the course menu and edit using the the following items:
|cc||add a menu link|
|Display the course menu as a list|
|Display the course menu as folders|
|Display the menu as a free-floating window that can be repositioned|
|refresh your view of the course menu to ensure it displays all changes|
|Open a window that allows you to reorder items|
The Blackboard Interface
When you log in to Bb Learn you will see the My Institution tab (Fig. 1 below). This page contains a set of Modules that display information of various types. The My Courses (A) module lists all the courses to which you have access.
The My Institution tab also contains the following modules:
B. Tools – view announcements, calendar dates, task reminders from instructors, and grades for courses in which you are enrolled. Also, send email to all members of courses in which you are enrolled.
C. My Announcements – displays announcements for courses in which you are enrolled. It may also contain announcements from your institution’s system administrator.
There are a number of optional modules that you can add to your institution homepage. The screenshot below illustrates:
D. My Calendar lists all instructors’ calendar entries for all courses in which a student is enrolled. Private entries are added using the Calendar link in the Tools Panel.
E. My Tasks list tasks for all courses in which a student is enrolled. Personal tasks are added using the Tasks link in the Tools Panel.
Personalize (F) allows customization of the page’s color theme. Color theme visible to user only.
Modules can be added to or deleted from the My Institution home page.
A module that does not have an “X” in the top right-hand corner cannot be deleted from the home page, all others can. For example, the tools module shown in figure 1 above cannot be removed from the My Institution home page, but My Tasks can.
Modules can be moved around on the My Institution home page. To move a module, mouse over it until the symbol appears (fig. 5), then click, hold, and drag the module its desired location (fig. 6).
The Blackboard foundations session introduces you to the structure and organization of blackboard Learn and provides detailed instructions on how to navigate the system, add content, set up tools for use in your course, and also provides information on best practices for organizing content and optimizing your files and system to circumvent common technology problems.
Session Learning Objectives
Upon session completion, you will be able to:
- Navigate the Bb Learn interface
- Identify and utilize the main features of the Course Home Page
- Add files to your course through the content collection area
- Add course menu links for specific purposes
- Add content to your course
- Modify your course menu
- Set the student entry page to your course
- Post an announcement
- Send messages and email from Bb Learn
- Use best practices to mitigate common problems encountered when using Bb Learn
Move on to The Blackboard Interface