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Information Technology Services

Start of Semester Activities

ITS suggests the following start of semester activities involving Blackboard:

  1. Request your course shells online for the new semester as soon as you are listed as the instructor of record for them in Banner.

    • Course shells may be requested as soon as an instructor knows the course ID (i.e. ENG), number, and section number, and that information is listed in Banner.  Please allow 3 to 5 business days (excluding weekends and holidays) from the time a course is requested until the time it is created.  Don't wait until the last minute to make your request.

    • Blackboard course shells can only be created when there is an actual instructor of record listed in Banner for the course: the instructor cannot be listed as "TBA." Faculty are advised to check Banner before requesting their course shells to make certain they are indeed listed as the instructor of record for the course.  Any TBA issues must be addressed and resolved within the department, updating the instructor in Banner, before a course shell can be created.
    • Effective Spring 2013, ITS no longer copies content from previously taught courses into new course shells.  Faculty are responsible for exporting content from a previously taught course shell and importing it into a new course shell themselves.  See the instructions below, under Option A:  Export and Import Course Materials.
  2. Build your course by importing content exported from a previously taught Blackboard 9.1 course into your new course shell or by building it anew.  Note that the last six digits of the course ID provide the key to distinguishing the year and semester during which the course is to be or was offered.  The year comes first, followed by the semester (15 = Spring, 25 = Summer, and 35 = Fall).  Therefore, 201615 designates Spring 2016.

    Option A:  Export and Import Course Materials.  If you wish to replicate a previously taught course, follow these instructions to export content from the previously taught course and import it into your new blank course shell.  Upon successfully importing materials into the new course shell, you should check the import log (via the email confirmation that the import is complete, or on the Import Package/View Logs screen by clicking the linked name of the ImportFile...) for any warnings or errors.  Then, you must review and update the new course for the new semester.

    Be sure to:

    • Recreate all imported Turnitin Assignments, with new date settings, since imported Turnitin Assignments will not function properly in the new course shell.
    • Delete duplicate course navigational items.  Note that your copied navigational items will generally appear beneath the default course navigational items that were in the course at the time it was created.
    • Review the imported Grade Center, deleting any duplicate columns, removing columns for assessments that will no longer be used, creating columns for new assessments, and reviewing the Total and/or Weighted Total columns to be sure they are accurate for the new course.
    • Edit all imported Discussion Boards in order to 1) associate your name (rather than Anonymous) as the creator of any instructor created discussion thread prompts, and 2) to delete Anonymous threads imported from discussion boards where students could create their own threads.

    In addition, review and update:

    Option B: Build a Course Anew.  If you are teaching a course for the first time using Blackboard or have simply decided it is best to start with a clean slate, you will be building your course anew.

    1. Open your new course shell by clicking on the link to the new course shell to open it.  This will generate the folder that will hold all of your instructional materials for that course in the Course Content folder on the My Content tab.
    2. Add your syllabus, contact information, and textbook information under the "About This Course" content area of the course.
    3. Organize your instructional materials into folders, learning units or lesson plans by chapter, week, concept, etc., and add them under the "Course Materials" content area of the course.  Include links to the appropriate content, assessments, and tools to help your students meet the specified learning objectives. See the Blackboard 9.1 Tool Guide for assistance in choosing the right Blackboard tool.
    4. Review the Tools link in the Course Menu. "Hide Links" to those tools you will not be using.  Note that hiding a tool here makes it unavailable everywhere in the course.
    5. Customize the Course Menu. Add Tools and Content areas that you will be using and delete those that you will not be using.
  3. Activate your Student Preview in the course. This will allow you to see the course as your students see it, test Adaptive Release rules, and verify Grade Center settings.
  4. Make Your Course Available All Blackboard courses are set to be "unavailable" at the time of creation.  Students cannot see the course when it is "unavailable."  When your course has been developed and is ready for students to view, you must make the course available.
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