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August 22, 2010

Top 5 Start of Semester Blackboard Tips

With the start of the semester just around the corner, many faculty members are in the midst of getting their Bb courses ready to go for the first day of classes. Here are the top 5 tips that everyone needs to know about Bb 9.1.

How to Export/ Import:

If you have material in an old Bb class that you would like to add to your current class, the quickest way to do that is to use the Export and Import functions found within the Control Panel. Help sheets, as well as a Jing screencast, explaining both the Export and Import processes can be found on the Faculty/ Leaders Blackboard Help page.

If your course Export file is in excess of 250 MB, you will be unable to import it yourself, and you will need to submit a request to RT.

How to Add Course Content:

If you are building your FA 2010 Bb course from scratch, chances are that you have a limited number of Course Menu buttons available. In order to add content to your course, you will need to create a Course Content Menu button (such as Course Documents, or Syllabus). Once you have that created it is easy to add documents, images, and other files. The “Build Content” button allows you to create folders, and attach many different types of files, including YouTube mashups. Quizzes, Assignments, and Safe Assignments can be added via the “Create Assessment” button. Wikis, Journals, Blogs, and the Wimba Classroom and Voice tools are added from the “Add Interactive Tool” button.

How to Make Your Course Available:

A Bb course must be available in order for students to be able to view any content.
By default all Bb course shells are unavailable upon creation; each instructor must make them available by following these simple directions (also available as a Jing screencast).

Managing Course Enrollment:

Faculty members do not need to manually enroll students in their Bb courses, and in fact should never do so. Students are automatically enrolled in the appropriate Bb course once they have officially enrolled for the course in SA. This automated enrollment process is updated multiple times daily. When students officially drop the course in SA, they will be made “unavailable” in the Bb course, and thus no longer have access to it.

In the past, some students have pressured faculty to manually enroll them in their Bb courses during the Add/Drop period. Occasionally students have become confused, and thought that since they had access to Bb, they were officially enrolled in the course. At the end of the semester after completing all of the coursework, those students did not appear on the official grade roster in SA, and therefore did not get credit for the course. Please remember that SA is the system of record for student enrollment- let it do the job for you!

Directions for enrolling an additional Instructor or Teaching Assistant in a course can be viewed here.

Enable Subscriptions in Discussion Boards:

Many faculty members on campus use Discussion Boards to engage students in course material or related topics outside of class. One useful feature is the ability to allow students (and instructors) to subscribe to either entire forums, or to individual threads within a Discussion Board. By enabling subscription, users no longer have to actively log in to Bb, and search through a Discussion Board to see if anyone has responded to a particular post. If they subscribe, they will be notified by E-mail whenever a new post occurs. This may prompt users to interact with each other to a greater extent.