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MiniManual for Blackboard v. 6

by Ursula Hoffmann, with contributions from others

Table of Contents

| Bb Overview | Getting started | Adding content | Control Panel | Upload content to Bb | Customize: add a title banner, make some buttons invisible |
 | Communication | Discussion Board | Collaboration | External links | Tools | Staff Information | Open a file on Bb | Print a file on Bb | Download a file from Bb |
 | Complete BB Manual online |

What Bb is useful for:

Add a Bb component to a course:
Upload the syllabus, assignments, announcements. Students can check it or print it on their own time, even when they cannot meet the class.
Upload material such as images and schedule a class in a lab, instead of carrying screen, projector, slides to a not very dark classroom.
Use the Discussion Board to have students interact with you and one another.
If your students know about this, there is no excuse for missing class.
You need to schedule one initial class session in a computer lab to make sure all students can log into the course.
You may want to schedule additional sessions for special meetings.

Meet in a classroom one hour per week and in a lab two hours a week.

Use Bb for your course instead of classroom meetings:
You should meet your class at least once, at the start of the term, to familiarize your students with Bb and make sure they can all log in. A nice idea would be to have a digital photo of yourself and every student online. The rest of the course is conducted online.

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Every course you are scheduled to teach is on Bb. It includes a roster for all students registered at the start of the semester.
Whether or not you want to use Bb in one of your courses, log in -- see how to do that if needed -- and
Get a roster of the students registered in anyone of your courses -- very useful

See the windows in a new Blackboard course -- the course has a title, and you have full access as an instructor

The last image you saw was that of the Control Panel, aptly named, as it gives you full control over your course. It is only accessible to you.

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Where do you want to put it? Organize the course site, to make navigation easy for your students.
You can use the area called Course Information for a course overview and a syllabus, or you can upload both as HTML files into the area Course Documents.
You can put up assignments in Announcements or Assignments, or as a course document.
You can put all Course documents into the area Course Documents, or you can create subfolders under Course Documents, one for each week (Week1, Week2 etc.), or one for each major part or topic of your course.
You can reserve the announcements for important reminders, such as the date of  the next paper due or a test.
You can put external links into the main menu option 'External Links' or into a course document or into an announcement.

Try to organize this for easy use. Do not expect your students to click around in all menus and submenus every day. Therefore, for your course design, decide which options you do not want to use and make their buttons invisible -- see Customize below.

Much of this depends on how you want to use Bb in your course:
1. You meet your class on the first day only; after that all communication takes place online and sometimes in your office.
2. You meet your class regularly but also use Bb so students who missed a class can catch up or to show visual material online (this beats carrying a screen, slide projector, slides to the classroom and trying to darken the room), to have students interact with responses to questions posed in the Discussion Board area.
3. You can combine classroom and lab work by scheduling, say, a lecture hour per week in a classroom  and  two  Bb hours a week in a  lab.

Some people like to print information, others are happy to read it online. Announcements cannot be easily printed, Course Docs can. As can the booklist, syllabus, assignment sheet.
Some people like to work at home, others in the computer lab in school. At home, you need to download, sometimes very slowly, and you need viewers and software, such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint. Keep this in mind, and add relevant instructions.
You should schedule a Bb session with your class at the start of the semester, to help students get online. Sometimes, there is a password problem which someone on the Help staff can fix right away.

Also see Customize below.

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A. Creating content within Blackboard, such as an announcement: see a) below
    1. Use Windows Internet Explorer. Type data and format them in the textbox. Or cut and paste from another application.
    2. Use Netscape or work on a Macintosh: Type data and format with HTML tags, or cut and paste from another application.
B. Creating content for your course with an application on your computer: see b) below
    1. HTML documents created directly, e.g., with Netscape Composer, or created in another application such as Access, Excel, Powerpoint, Word and then converted to HTML.
    2. Non-HTML documents, e.g., Word doc, Excel xcl, Powerpoint pps, Adobe Acrobat pdf, or a media file of sound or video. The user must have the application, such as Word or Excel or Powerpoint on his computer, or a viewer/plugin, such as Acrobat Reader or Quicktime or Windows MediaPlayer. See viewers/plugins and software in the Lehman ITR.
a) adding content within Blackboard:
b) adding content that is on your own computer or on the web:
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Note: The Collaboration tools (Blackboard, Whiteboard) require a Java plug-in for your browser: 1.3.1-04 or higher. Uninstall any existing Java plug-ins before downloading and installing a new version -- from http://java.sun.com/products/plugin/

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Last revised: February 2005