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Blackboard Basics for Instructors

Blackboard is an ideal way for you to stay connected with students -- whether they're located in another country or across the campus. This brief guide will help you to get started with this virtual learning environment.

My Blackboard Courses

All your NOVA Blackboard courses will appear in the My Blackboard Courses module on the NOVA tab. To access a course, click on the course title.

A course listing of classes that a professor teaches

Customize the My Blackboard Courses module by clicking the gear Gear icon in the upper right of the module. This will allow you to choose the courses and information displayed in the module including: Course Name, Course ID, Instructors, Announcements, Tasks and Calendar Events. You may choose to group your courses by term by putting a check mark beside Group By Term.

Courses remain in Blackboard for approximately one year after the conclusion of the semester. Near the end of the current semester, the next semester courses will appear.

Global Navigation and My Blackboard

The Global Navigation menu is located in the upper right corner of Blackboard. Click on the down arrow and you will find links to the User Menu and My Blackboard. The User Menu includes access to your Blackboard courses, Organizations and Settings. My Blackboard is accessed from the Global Navigation Menu by clicking the icons in the left grey column of the menu. My Blackboard contains the following options: Blackboard Home, Course Posts, Course Updates, My Grade (students), Retention Center (instructors) and Calendar.

blackboard global menu

For additional details watch: Global Navigation and My Blackboard (video)

Make Course Available

By default, courses are unavailable to students. This gives instructors an opportunity to develop content prior to allowing students access the course. Unavailable courses are designated with (unavailable) behind the course name. When you are ready, follow the steps below to make your course available to students.

  1. In the Control Panel, expand the Customization menu, select Properties.
  2. Locate the Set Availability Section; choose Yes beside Make Course Available.
  3. Click Submit to proceed.

Set Availability option

Now your students can access your Blackboard course. It is recommended as a best practice to make your course unavailable once the semester is over.

Navigating the Course Interface

Edit Mode Switch

Located in the upper right hand corner of every page, the Edit Mode switch must be on to access editing tools. When Edit Mode is OFF this is what the students see when they access your course, therefore hidden menu items, empty content areas and content that is set to unavailable will not be seen when Edit Mode is OFF. Click to change modes. Students do not have an Edit Mode option.

Edit mode switch

Course Menu

The Course Menu provides navigation for the content of this course and can be customized based on the course organization.

Course Menu

add Add menu item.

up and down moving arrow Reorder menu items using drag-and-drop.

edit Click to reveal contextual menu.

empty folder Content Area contains no content.

hidden menu Item is hidden from student view.

Control Panel

The Control Panel appears under the Course Menu. Manage the course style, course tool, course availability and the grade center from the Control Panel. Click My Blackboard courses icon  to expand the menu; click My Blackboard courses icon  to collapse the menu.

control panel

Hiding the Course Menu and Control Panel

The right column that contains the Course Menu & Control Panel can be hidden to create more screen space when needed by clicking on the arrow tab. Click again to make the column appear. The icons are visible when you point your mouse to the right edge of the course menu when expanded or the left edge of the course when collapsed.

Hiding course menu arrow tab

Adding Content in a Content Area

Content Areas are folders that contain course content. A Content Area without content (an empty folder) will not be visible to students. Edit Mode switch must be on to add content.

Add Content

Put your mouse over each item in the action bar to reveal the drop-down menu options.

  • Build Content: Use this menu to organize and create a variety of content. You can add text, files, audio, video, folders, Web links and much more to a Blackboard content area.
  • Assessments: Create relevant student assessments where students may submit coursework. Assessments include Tests, Surveys, Assignments and SafeAssignments.
  • Tools: Link to a specific area of a tool or the entire tools area such as Discussion Board, Blogs, Journals, Wikis and Blackboard Collaborate.
  • Publisher Content: Provide textbook information for your students.

Adding a Syllabus

To add a PDF or DOC syllabus to a Blackboard course, access a Content Area, put your curser on Build Content, and select File from the drop-down menu.

  • Select file Click Browse My Computer; select the File from your computer. Type a Name for the file which will appear in the content area as file link.

  • File options Optionally select Yes for Open in New Window to display the Syllabus in a new browser window. Select Yes to Permit Users to View This Content.

  • Standard Options Optionally select Yes to Track Number of Views and/or Select Date and Time Restrictions.

  • Submit Click Submit to upload the file.

Creating an Announcement

An Announcements page is a communication tool in Blackboard that sends notification emails to students (can be turned off) as it adds each announcement to the page. To create an announcement, click Announcement on the Course Menu, click the Create Announcement button on the Announcements page.

Create Announcement button

  • Announcement information Type a Subject and a Message in the content editor.

  • Web announcement options Choose Not Date Restricted or Date Restricted and select date/time restrictions. Optionally choose to Send a copy of the announcement immediately, which also overrides student notification settings.

  • course link Optionally click Browse to link to a course area, tool or item.

  • Submit Click Submit to proceed.

Editing Content

Edit and Delete options are available on the Contextual Menu of all Course Content. Point your curser at the Content Title to reveal the contextual menu icon. Click the contextual menu icon menu icon  to reveal the menu. Select edit from the Contextual Menu.

contextual menu icon

Creating a Welcome Page

A Blank Page can be used to create a Welcome Page on the course menu to greet students when they access the course.

Hover over the plus icon at the top of the Course Menu and select Blank Page from the menu that appears. Name the page, put a checkmark in the box to make it available to users and click Submit to add it to the Course Menu. Use the double arrow to the left of the menu item to drag-and-drop the menu item to the correct location.

Add Blank Page

  • Content Enter Content into the Content Editor such as text, files, images, audio/video clips, using the Content Editor functions.

  • attachments Attach files by clicking Browse My Computer.

  • options Select Yes to Permit Users to View This Content. Optionally select Yes to Track Number of Views and/or Select Date and Time Restrictions.

  • submit Click Submit to proceed.

When Edit Mode is ON the Blank Page will appear as an editable page. When Edit Mode is OFF the Blank Page will appear as students see the page.

Log Out

Don't forget to logout when you are finished. The Logout icon is located in the upper right corner of Blackboard.