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Getting to know Blackboard

A.  Accessing blackboard 

You can access the blackboard application by opening a web browser and entering the following link: 




B.  Login into blackboard 

If you are login to blackboard for the first time you need to use your CaneID and password (Same login information as CaneLink or Outlook web).  

C.  Content Area 

Content Areas are the top-level containers that organize and store content. 

Build Content 

Items: A content item is any type of file, text, image, or link that appears to users in a Content Area, Learning Module, Lesson Plan, or content folder. 

File: Use the File content type to add a file that can be selected and viewed as a page within the course or as a separate piece of content in a separate browser window. Also, a collection of files or an entire lesson, including cascading style sheets (CSS), can be developed offline and uploaded into a course from a local drive and viewed in order. 

Audio: Select an audio file to play on the page. If AutoStart and Loop are both set to Yes, the audio file will begin playing when users open the page and will continue to play until they stop it or navigate away from the page. Include a transcript for those that cannot hear the audio file. 

Image: Blackboard Learn supports the following image file types: .gif, .jif, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .tiff, and .wmf. Select an image to show on the page. Set the height and width options to display the image at the right size, and include a description for those who cannot see the image. 

Web Link: A Web Link is a shortcut to a Web resource. Add a Web Link to a Content Area to provide a quick access point to relevant materials. 

Learning Module: A Learning Module is a collection of Content Items focused on a specific subject that students can navigate at their own pace. For example, a Learning Module about the solar system can include lecture notes, links to websites with pictures of all the planets, and assignments. Instructors can create a structured path for progressing through the items. The path can be set so that students must view content sequentially, or set to permit users to view the content in any order. 

Lesson Plan: A Lesson Plan is special content type that combines information about the lesson itself with the curriculum resources used to teach it. Default Lesson Plan sections include the instructional level, grade level, goals, and subject area of the lesson. Additional sections can be added to the Lesson Plan, arranged to appear in any order and optionally displayed to students. 

Syllabus: A Syllabus is an outline of a course of study. It can contain course information, goals, instructor contact information, assignments, class meeting dates, textbook information, and more. 

Course Link: A Link is a shortcut to an area, a tool, or an item. Add a Link to a Content Area to provide quick access points to relevant materials and tools. Options for Links affect the availability and tracking of the content items no matter where they are accessed.  

Content Folder: A Content Folder is a way of organizing content items. Content Folders and sub-folders set up a hierarchy to group related material together. 

Module page: Course module pages contain details about new content and due dates for the course you’re in. 

Flickr Photo: The search returns photos only. Enter search information below. Click Go to view the results. Disclaimer: The order of the search results are determined by the Flickr Service. For more information on Creative Commons licenses visit the Flickr Creative Commons Page

Kaltura: You can use Kaltura integrations to present rich media content in the Original Course View. You can use Kaltura to host and share videos, images, and audio files with course members. 

NBC Learn: For more than 80 years, NBC News has been documenting the people, places, and events that have shaped our world. Now, for the first time, NBC Learn is making these historic and current events resources available to faculty, instructional technologists, course designers, librarians, and students. 

Voicethread: VoiceThread is a cloud application that allows students to participate in conversations while looking at a multimedia items provided by the instructor, or by students. Instructors can upload, share and discuss documents, presentations, images, audio files, and videos. Instructor and students can then comment on the VoiceThread slides using one of the five commenting options: microphone, webcam, text, phone, and audio-file upload. 


Test, Surveys, Pool: You can use tests and surveys to measure student knowledge, gauge progress, and gather information from students. 

Remind your students that they need to use a wired connection when they take tests. Wireless connections are more prone to network issues. The stability of the signal depends on how long and how much bandwidth students draw, similar to 4G phone data connections. 

 Assignments: With assignments, you can create coursework and manage the grades and feedback for each student separately. You can create assignments in content areas, learning modules, lesson plans, and folders. 

D.  Course Tools 

Course Tools are communication and collaboration tools that enhance interaction between users. 

Achievements: You can use Blackboard achievements to create opportunities for students to earn recognition for their work. You designate criteria for issuing achievements to students in the form of both badges and certificates. 

Students can see which badges and certificates they have earned and what is required to receive additional recognition. They can gain insight into learning progression toward defined competencies. 

Students can publish badges to the Mozilla Open Backpack and transport evidence of their learning outside of Blackboard Learn. To learn more about Open Badges and Mozilla Open Backpack, visit Open Badges (available in English only).h badges and certificates. 

Announcements: Announcements are an ideal way to post time-sensitive information critical to course success, such as: 

  • Due dates for assignments and projects. 
  • Changes to your syllabus. 
  • Corrections/clarifications of materials. 
  • Exam schedules. 

You can add, edit, and delete announcements from the Announcements page. When you add an announcement, you can also send it as an email to students in your course. This way, students receive the announcement even if they don’t log in to your course.  

Blackboard Collaborate: Blackboard Collaborate is a powerful all-in-one platform that offers you an immersive human experience through your computer, tablet, or mobile device anywhere, anytime. A fully interactive web conferencing environment and asynchronous voice authoring capabilities allow for greater engagement so you’re not missing a thing. 

You can use a robust tool set that allows you to web conference and connect with one student or your entire class. You and your students can collaborate using audio, video, and recording capabilities. You can also use private and public chat, a whiteboard, application sharing, a clip art library, and add and edit content at any time. 

With Blackboard Collaborate, you aren’t just replicating the face-to-face experience, you’re adding a personal touch to online collaboration. 

Blogs: A blog is a personal online journal that is frequently updated and intended to share with others. Most blogs also have a commenting feature, so that people can respond to one another’s thoughts. Blogs encourage students to clearly express their ideas. Blogs also address the need to expand various aspects of social learning. From the instructor’s point of view, blogs are an effective means of gaining insight into students’ activities and provide a way to share the knowledge and materials collected. 

In Blackboard Learn, instructors create and manage blogs, and only enrolled users can view and create entries and comments in them. 

Contacts: Use the contacts tool to add profile information about yourself and other staff for students. You can provide information about office hours, phone numbers, and other links to help students find the people who have important roles in your course. 

You can use folders to organize the profiles. For example, create a teaching assistant folder and assign all TA contacts to it. 

Course Calendar: Juggling competing responsibilities isn’t easy. The calendar displays a consolidated view of all your institution, course, organization, and personal calendar events. You can view events by day, week, or month. You can view and organize upcoming and past events into categories. 

You can use the course calendar to provide students with dates for course-related events. Course calendar events appear to all members of the course. Common entries include upcoming tests, due dates for assignments, or special lectures. Course items with due dates automatically appear in the course calendar. Only instructors may create course calendar events. 

Course Gallery: The course gallery is a searchable and sortable display of all Kaltura media content assigned to a course, and allows users to add new media (upload or record from webcam). 

Course Messages: Course messages are private and secure text-based communication that occurs within your course between course members. 

Although similar to email, you must be logged in to a course to read and send course messages. Messages activity remains inside the system, and you don’t have to worry about email addresses that may be incorrect or outdated. 

When you receive new course messages, a notification appears in the What’s New module on the My Institution tab and the Home Page. 

Both incoming and outgoing messages are saved in course messages in the Inbox and Sent folders. You can’t rename these folders. 

Course Portfolios: Portfolios are an invaluable tool in academic and professional development. They provide a powerful medium for users to efficiently collect and organize artifacts representative of work completed over time. Portfolios offer a means to demonstrate formative and/or summative progress and achievement. Portfolio authors are empowered with tools to effectively present their information in a cohesive, personalized format. 

Date Management: You can use the date management feature to update content dates when you copy or restore a course from a previous term or calendar year. Date types include due dates, availability, and adaptive release dates related to the course content. 

Discussion Board: Online discussions provide unique benefits. Because students can take time to ponder before posting ideas, you may see more thoughtful conversations play out. You can observe as students demonstrate their grasp of the material and correct misconceptions. You can extend your office hours by reaching students more often during the week so learning is continuous. 

Building a sense of community among students is crucial for a successful online experience. With the discussion board tool, course members can replicate the robust discussions that take place in the traditional classroom. 

Discussions can serve a range of purposes: 

  • An online meeting place for social interaction among peers. 
  • An additional medium for collaboration and the exchange of ideas. 
  • A medium to pose questions about homework assignments, readings, and course content. 
  • A way to demonstrate the understanding or application of course material. 
  • A record of discussion that members can review at a later point. 
  • A graded activity that demonstrates understanding or application of course material. 

Glossary: You can add a glossary of terms to each of your courses. Each entry consists of a term and a definition. You and your institution control if the glossary tool is available. 

If you plan to build a large glossary, you can upload a file that contains all, or most of the terms, and then update the glossary with more terms as needed. You can also add glossary terms one by one for a short glossary or when you want to add terms to an existing glossary. 

To create a glossary file for to upload, type the terms and definitions in spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft® Excel®. You must add one term and one definition per line, with the term in one column and the definition in the next column. Save the file as CSV (comma-separated values). Alternatively, use a simple text editor to create your glossary file. With one entry per line, separate the term from the definition by a comma or tab. Then, save the file in CSV or TXT format. 

After you create your glossary file, upload it with the glossary tool. You have the option to either update an existing glossary or replace it. 

Journals: Journals are a personal space for students to communicate privately with you. Students can also use journals as a self-reflective tool to post their opinions, ideas, and concerns about the course, or discuss and analyze course-related materials. You can create journal assignments that are broad and student-directed as your students reflect on the learning process and document changes in their perceptions and attitudes. Students can describe problems faced and how they solved them. You can also create instructor-directed journal entries that are more formal in nature and that narrow the focus by listing topics for discussion. 

Link Checker: The Course Link Checker allows Instructors to check the links to Content Collection items that have been added to a course. For example, if an item in the Content Collection is removed after the Instructor has created a link to the item in a course, the Course Link Checker will detect this and make the Instructor aware of the broken link. Depending on the situation, some broken links may be repaired; while others may not. 

When a link to a Content Collection item is added to a course, All Course Users are given Read permission to this item in the Content Collection. When the Course Link Checker is run, the only permission that is checked is Read permission for All Course Users. 

Respondus LockDown Browser: Respondus LockDown Browser is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within Blackboard Course Sites. While using LockDown Browser, students are unable to print, copy, go to another URL, or access other applications during an online test. Available for both Windows and Mac. 

Respondus Monitor: Respondus Monitor® builds upon the power of LockDown Browser, using a student’s webcam and industry-leading video analytics to prevent cheating during non-proctored exams. You won’t find a more cost-effective, student-friendly system for online proctoring. 

Rubrics: Rubrics can help ensure consistent and impartial grading and help students focus on your expectations. 

A rubric is a scoring tool that you can use to evaluate graded work. When you create a rubric, you divide the assigned work into parts. You can provide clear descriptions of the characteristics of the work associated with each part, at varying levels of skill. 

Students can use a rubric to organize their efforts to meet the requirements of the graded work. When you allow students access to rubrics before they complete their work, you provide transparency into your grading methods. 

SafeAssign: A SafeAssign originality report provides detailed information about the matches found between a student’s submitted paper and existing sources. Both instructors and students can use the report to review assignment submissions for plagiarism potential and create opportunities to identify how to properly attribute sources rather than paraphrase. When instructors create an assignment and choose to use the SafeAssign service, they determine if students can see the results of the report. 

The report identifies all matching blocks of text. Instructors and their students need to determine if the matching text is properly referenced. Investigating each match prevents detection errors due to differences in citing standards. 

The originality report displays the list of potential sources, and each source is highlighted in a different color. The report can display up to 30 colors to represent 30 different sources. 

Originality report information adapts to the screen it appears on, such as an iPad® or iPhone®. 

Send Email: The email tool allows you to send email to other people in your course without launching a separate email program (Outlook, Outlook Web). You can send email to individual users or to groups of users. 

Blackboard Learn keeps no record of your email, whether you send or receive it. Any email you receive from Blackboard Learn appears in your external email inbox (UM email). Keep a copy of important messages in case you need them at a later date. 

Tasks: You can use the tasks tool to organize projects and activities, define task priority, and track students’ task status. As an instructor, you add tasks to your course. You can allow students to manage their tasks from the My Tasks module or a tool link in your course. 

Tests, Surveys, and Pools: You can use tests and surveys to measure student knowledge, gauge progress, and gather information from students. 

You assign points to test questions for grading evaluation, but survey questions aren’t scored. 

Survey results are anonymous, but you can see if a student has completed a survey and view aggregate results for each survey question. At this time, you can create surveys only in the Original Course View. 

Pools are collections and groups of questions that you can include in tests and surveys in the Original Course View. 

Wikis: Wikis allow course members to contribute and modify one or more pages of course related materials, providing a means of sharing and collaboration. Users can create and edit pages quickly, while tracking changes and additions, allowing for effective collaboration between multiple writers. You can create one or more wikis for all course members to contribute to and wikis for specific groups to use to collaborate. 

All course members can use the wikis tool to record information and serve as a repository for course information and knowledge. A course wiki is a vast source of information compiled by course members. Wikis can help build a community of collaboration and learning by increasing social interaction during the exchange of information. 

Students use a wiki to collaborate on shared content from different times and locations. They can view previous changes, comment on content or changes, include new content, and revise existing content. Similar to the discussion board, you act as a facilitator instead of the provider of all course content. Unlike a blog, which can be quite personal, wikis require intense collaboration, where information is linked to and built upon. 

E.  Users and Groups 

Instructors can manage the users in their Courses. Some options for managing users may be turned off by the System Administrator. 

Groups: You can use the Course Groups tool to create an interactive online environment. On the Manage Groups page Instructors can build study or project groups. Instructors can also remove and modify groups from this page. The Instructor has the option of giving the group access to these features: 

  • Discussion Board 
  • Virtual Classroom 
  • Group File Exchange 
  • Group Email 

Users: This page enables Instructors to change a user’s role and availability within a course and update user profiles. Instructors can also send email to a user 

Find users to Enroll: Students are automatically enrolled into your courses based on the data feed from the Registrar’s office (CaneLink). If you would like to enroll someone who is not listed from CaneLink’s data feed, for example, your TAs, you can enroll them yourself manually 

Remove Users from Course (Not recommended): Instructors may remove users from a course using “Remove Users from Course”. When a user is removed from a course all of the information associated with the user (such as, Grade Center information, Assignment files) is removed 

F.  Packages and Utilities 

Bulk Delete: You may find it most useful to bulk delete course materials at the end of a course. You can select the materials you want to delete and keep the rest for use in the future. For example, you can delete students and grades from a course, but keep the content. 

You can’t recover materials you chose to bulk delete. 

Course Copy: The Course Copy Tool allows the instructor to copy contents of one course to an existing course. All copied information will add to the destination information, not erase it.

Import Course Cartridge: Course Cartridges enable Instructors to gain access to complete sets of teaching tools provided by academic publishers. In one central location, Instructors can find relevant, publisher-created materials. Once the materials are downloaded to a Blackboard Learning System Course, Instructors are free to customize the content by adding and deleting materials as needed to correlate with specific topics covered in the classroom. Course Cartridges can serve as supplements to existing online courses, or provide an excellent start for faculty who are just beginning to develop online teaching strategies. Instructors will benefit from the ease of use, variety, and professional quality of the materials available on Course Cartridges. Instructors download Course Cartridges from the Course Cartridge Repository and install cartridges into Courses through the Control Panel 

Note: Without a Download Key, it is not possible to add Course Cartridge content. The Download Key can be obtained from the publisher. 

Import Package: Instructors may use the Import Package page to upload information into the course. For example, if they have exported a course then may import the whole course package, or selected parts of the course through Import Package. Export packages, created with the Export Course feature, are .ZIP files that contain course materials, but not user data or interactions. Export packages are useful for storing content that may be used to teach the same course to different Students at a later time. To create a permanent record of a course, use the Archive Course feature. 

Note: Never upload an Exported Course package that has been modified since it was created and downloaded. Opening the .ZIP file and changing any of the files in the Exported Course package will result in unstable and unpredictable behavior when the course is imported. 

Export Course: The Export Course feature creates a package of the course content that can later be imported into Blackboard Learning System and used to teach another course with the same content. It is important to note that, unlike the Archive Course feature, Export Course does not include any user interactions with the course—it only includes the content of the Course. Therefore, Export Course is useful when course materials will be reused at a later time to teach a new set of Students. Archive Course is useful to maintain a record of a Course after it has been taught. 

Note: Export packages are downloaded as compressed .ZIP files and can be imported into Blackboard Learning System in the same format. Do not unzip an Export package or remove files from the package, otherwise the package will not be imported correctly 

Archive Course: Archive Course creates a permanent record of a course including all the content and user interactions. Unlike the Export Course feature, Archive Course is not useful when trying to create a package of content to be used at a later time or with another course. 

Archived courses are saved as .zip files with the following file naming structure: ArchiveFile_Course_ID.ZIP. These .zip files are stored and Instructors can access them for use in the future. Archiving a course does not remove it from the system. 

Updated on February 15, 2021

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