Sunday, January 9, 2011

At a Minimum -- A Document Repository

  • Announcements
  • Syllabus
  • Faculty Contact Info
  • E-mail
  • video 3 minute video on how to set up a very minimal site

Potential: Customized, Adaptive, Online Course

  • Lectures (text, ppt, camtasia, video capture, video taped)

Getting Started

Accounts: userid and password
Every course has Blackboard site

  • unavailable by default
  • automated student enrollment – 24-48 hours after course is made available

To make your course available:

  • Course Control Panel > Customization > Properties
  • #3 Set Availability > Make Course Available (Yes)

Default Menu Items

Be sure to remove any links to tools or content areas you will not be using.

Note that students will NOT see empty content areas
Consider how you want to present content.
Break down by function

  • Lectures
  • Assignments
  • Quizzes
  • Discussion Board

Or in linear format

  • Modules
  • Weekly Units
  • with all content for each unit in one folder

Deviating from the Default Menu

  • Use contextual menus to show/hide, rename, or delete present items
  • Use plus sign at the top of the course menu to add a course tool, external URL or content area
  • Click and drag arrows to reorder.

Manage Tools

Consider making Messages unavailable.

  • Control Panel > Customization > Tool Availability
  • Use caution when making tools unavailable. If you don't know what it does, don't remove it.

Add Content

Text Documents
Accessibility - save documents as .rtf, or at least .doc NOT .docx
Consider posting shorter documents that will need frequent reference inside a folder in content area:

  • Go to desired Content Area
  • Build Content > Content Folder > Add name and submit
  • Click on folder name to open >
  • Add Item > copy and paste text into text box
  • Link original document as well to simplify printing
  • Submit
  • Pay attention to file naming and attachment guidelines.

Adding Other Content

Linked files:
Linking will then upload the files to your Blackboard space

  • Documents, pdf, rtf, doc
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Images, movies, sound
  • Links to tutorials

Be aware that media files take a lot of space which is limited in Blackboard.
If you will be using a lot of media files (Camtasia lectures, for example) consider placing them on the media server and linking to them in Blackboard (Add External Link).

Creating an Assignment in Blackboard


  • adds assignment to any content area
  • creates a grade center column
  • ties the assignment submissions directly to the grade center.

Discussion Board

Discussion Board

Entire courses can be taught with just discussion boards
Set clear expectations of participation by students and instructor.

Top 3 DiscussionBoard Forums

  • Introductions (if not done in a blog)
  • Water cooler
  • Questions about this course
  • Forming a Community of Academic Integrity

Pat Red's Discussion Board Grading Rubric

New Collaboration Tools in Bb9

Journals and Wikis and Blogs, Oh MY!
Journals are normally a one to one reflection tool, usually between one student and the instructor(s). While they can be shared with the entire class, there is only one author and only the instructor(s) can comment on them.
Blogs can be individual, Group or Class blogs. Blogs are usually a one to many resources. One student writes an entry and others can view or comment. Group or class blogs allow for several authors. A good use of the class blog is to use it for class introductions.
Wikis are collaborative web-sites. Many individuals can post and edit each others' posts. There is a contribution history available for grading purposes.

All of these tools are available only within your course and carry a higher security level than web 2.0 tools which can be seen by anyone with the corresponding url.
If you are interested in building a resource you wish to share with others on campus or others outside the University, you should consider other web 2.0 tools.

Here is a Cheat Sheet on Journals, Wikis and Blogs (pdf), created by Susan Smith, a grad assistant in the Professional Education Department at USM.

Please note: the titles of discussion board threads, journal, blog and wiki titles all need to follow most of the file-naming protocols as documents in Blackboard 9.1.

Course Copy

This process can only be used between courses on the same server. To copy course content from another server, you need to use export and import.

Log in to Blackboard (

Go to your OLD site (the one you want to copy FROM) click on

Control Panel > Packages and Utilities > Copy Course
Select Course Copy from the Course Options menu (bottom left)

One the next page, select Copy Course Materials into an EXISTING Course (NOT NEW)
Click on the Browse button (if it appears) to the right of the Destination Course ID box
Browse to your new site and click on the radio button beside the desired course.

If the browse button does NOT appear next to the destination Course ID box, you will need the course ID for your new course to type or paste into that box. The course ID will consiste of 5 numbers, followed by _P_112 for Spring of 2011. (e.g. 04902_P_112)
Click on all the content areas and settings that you want to copy (not enrollments)

Normally, you will select Course Contents and Grade Center Columns and Settings
Click Submit.

Archive your courses

Courses are generally taken down a year or two after they run.

· Control Panel > Packages and Utilities > Export/Archive Course

· Click on export, then select the course materials you wish to export.

· If you used the Assignment tool or Blackboard tests or surveys, you should be sure to include Grade Center Columns and Settings

· Click Submit

Wait a while for the process to complete. You will receive a notice from Blackboard saying that the export has completed. Then go into Control Panel > Packages and Utilities > Export/Archive Course, find your export package (a .zip file) and click on it to DOWNLOAD (do not OPEN) the .zip file to your own computer.

Avoiding the Pitfalls in Bb9.1

Most of the problems we have experienced with Blackboard 9 have been related to file naming, (including titles of blogs, journals, and discussion board posts).
The easiest way to avoid these problems is to follow filenaming and attachment protocols and to rebuild your course inside Blackboard 9.
We recognize that this can be an overwhelming workload for many of you, so the next best suggestion is to copy materials from BB 9 when possible and when you have to use imported material, check all of your links to be sure they open properly. The difficulty here is that student permissions and instructor permissions are different. It may also help to be sure all of the material you wish to copy is AVAILABLE at the time you copy it.
If you are having difficulty with these different permissions (e.g. you can't see your students attachments, or they can't see yours) you can request a student ID from the helpdesk. This will allow you to log in as a student from a different browser and see the problem items.

Student Resources

USM Online has a wealth of information for students taking online courses, or just using Blackboard. Two very useful pages within this site are:
The following link ( is a compilation of all the information in Student Services on one page. We created this so that you can include it in your site as a course menu link. This page will be kept up-to-date by our staff.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Recommendations for Students

Using Blackboard is intuitive for anyone familiar with web-browsing. Look for underlined words to follow links.
You can find tutorials and other guidelines at USM's Online Student Support site.
You will need the latest version of Quicktime Movie Player if your instructor uses videos online.
You can test your computer's readiness for online learning by logging into Blackboard and clicking on the Help, Tips, and Updates tab. More readiness info.
Blackboard 9.1 uses a new file management system that requires all of us to remember proper file naming and file attachment procedures.
In general, this means that filenames should contain only alpha-numeric characters (letters and numbers, no spaces, no punctuation other than a dot).
File attachments should be in .doc, .ppt, .xls, .pdf, or .txt format unless otherwise allowed by your instructor. Keep filenames short (under 30 characters).

Blackboard Support Resources

Blackboard Support Resources:

CTEL's Faculty Blackboard Support
University of Maine's Faculty Blackboard Support
Blackboard's Video Tutorial Banks:CTEL's Course Designers: Scott Kimball, Sue Goodrich, Barb Stebbins
CTEL's Online Learning Support Specialist: Shane O'Hara