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Step 4: Customizing Your Course

Step 1: Request a Course

Step 2: Learn Blackboard

Step 3: Upload Content

Step 4: Add Materials

Step 5: Make Course Available

 "About This Course" | "Coursework" | AssessmentsGrade Center | Communication Tools | Study AidsGroups | Other Tools | Monitoring Student Performance | Customize Your Course


Course Shell Design

Faculty are encouraged to place all of their instructional materials into either the "About this Course" or "Coursework" content areas. "About this Course" should contain semester-long resources, like a copy of the syllabus, a link to the Contacts tool, textbook information, links to policies, and any other broad, overarching resources for the semester. "Coursework" should contain a series of folders (e.g. by week, chapter, module or project) into which all content items, assessments, and links to tools will be added.

A Week One Module folder within Coursework, for example, would contain all instructional activities for the week within a single folder: Readings, Assignments, Discussion Boards, Links to e-Reserves articles, Tests, etc. This approach to content presentation is expected to make building and managing content easier for instructors and locating content easier for students. Better content organization should eliminate the need to use announcements to outline for students where to look for course materials as they will simply be checking the Coursework link.

Jump to: Course Themes | Adding a Banner | Course Structure Templates | "My Blackboard" Tab


Managing Course Menu

The Course Menu appears on the left side of your course window. It is the cornerstone for the organization and navigation of your course. You can add additional navigational items to the course menu to present tools and materials to users. You can also customize the appearance and order of the links. Note that whenever content is exported from a previously taught course and imported into a new course shell, there will be duplication of at least some of the course navigational buttons. Instructors are advised to delete the duplicates in order to avoid confusion.

Follow the instructions under "The Course Menu" link within these instructions to rename, reorder, hide, show and delete course navigational links.

Course "Tools"

Rarely, if ever, will an instructor use every tool available in Blackboard. In order to avoid confusion and to display to students only the tools they will actually be using in the course, instructors should "hide" tools they are not using. When unnecessary tools are hidden, students who click on the "Tools" course navigational link will see and be able to access only those tools expected to be used in the course. Before you choose to hide a tool under the "Tools" navigational link, you must know that hiding a tool here will make any course "Tool Link' navigational item nonfunctional. In other words, if you hide the "Discussion Board," and/or "My Grades" tool here, the default "Discussions"and/or "My Grades" course navigational link(s) will work. Follow these instructions to hide and/or show specific tools under the "Tools" navigational button.

  1. With Edit Mode "ON," click on the Tools link in the course navigational menu.

  2. Click on the Hide Link button beside a tool to hide it from student view. Note that the icon for that tool will be grayed out, and the button beside it will be relabeled "Show Link." Repeat this process for each tool students will not be using in Blackboard. If you change your mind later, you can return to this screen and click on the "Show Link" button to display the tool to your students.

  3. With Edit Mode "OFF," view the page as your students will view it. Make sure that the tools remaining are just those your students will be using in the course.


Course Themes

Below are samples of a few of the Course Themes available in Blackboard 9.1. Themes can be applied to change the the color of course links, section and page headers, and thematic background wallpaper to the course. Learn more about Course Themes. You can see all of the Course Themes under Customization > Teaching Style > Select Course Theme. Otherwise, you can apply the themes without previewing them using the Bb 9 color theme wheel icon icon at the top of the screen. Please note that the very dark wallpapers can present issues with some of the building blocks in Blackboard in certain browsers where black text on a dark background become virtually impossible to read.

Bb 9 course theme biology

Bb 9 course theme music


Adding a Banner

Banners are a good way to "brand" your course. If you use a Course Pack in conjunction with your text book, you probably already have a banner included. If you do not, you can create your own. A banner is an image that appears at the top of the Planner page. Images should be no larger than 700 pixels (7 inches) wide and 100 pixels (1 inch) tall. The image should be a .jpg format with a resolution of 72 - 100 dpi.

Cooltext.com is a great website that allow you to create a banner quickly and easily.

Follow these instructions to add a banner.


Course Structure Templates

It is essential to know that the course structure links are added to your existing course navigation and do not replace existing menu items and content meaning. That means that you will end up with duplicate links for common tools or areas (Planner, My Grades, Groups, Discussion Boards, etc.) if you apply one of these Course Structures. For this reason, you are encouraged to review the options before applying a structure. There is no "undo" option available here. Once a structure is chosen, users will need to edit the course navigation remove duplicate and reorder newly added navigational items. Note that most, if not all, of these Course Structures reintroduce multiple navigational links, returning you to to multiple places to upload your content and your students having to check numerous links every day to make sure they haven't missed anything.

Below is a sample of the navigational structure of several Course Structure Templates. Learn more about Course Structures.

Bb 9 course structure templates

The templates can include sample content designed to encourage instructional design principles. Content examples include pedagogical information, instructions, and course items. Even if you have experience working in Blackboard Learn, the pedagogical information and content examples can give you ideas about tools or new approaches. Below is the option that will allow you to include sample content in the selected Course Template. Note that the template must be applied before the option to include sample content is available.

Bb 9 course structure details


Customizing "My Blackboard" tab

My Blackboard Global Navigation provides access to information about all of your academic courses in one convenient place.

The My Blackboard tab is the default landing spot when you log into Blackboard. It consists of a number of "modules" designed to deliver summary information to you about all of your courses.

Tools Module (A)

Tools panel
  • Announcements: Use this tool to view announcements from all course shells you teach.

  • Calendar: View the Calendar to events you have added from all courses you teach.

  • Tasks: Add personal tasks using the Tasks tool. You can also use this tool to keep track of work that must be completed.

  • My Grades: The My Grades tool is only for the students to view their grades. You as an instructor will have to use the Grade Center link within each course to view student's grades.

  • Send Email: Send email messages to other course members' SIUE email addresses. No record is kept within Blackboard of the email. It is strongly recommended that if you send an email through Blackboard, that you send yourself a copy. All further email communication will be conducted through SIUE email.

  • Personal Information: You can add additional personal information, but please note, you can not change your name or your SIUE e-ID password at this location.

Other Modules (B)

The other modules contain links that allow you to view cumulative information (e.g. announcements, calendar items, tasks) from all of your courses as well as to navigate to your individual courses through links in the My Courses module.

My Blackboard Tab





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