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Blackboard Help

Instructor Features

The Blackboard Learn environment allows you to easily navigate, provide content, edit items, and change options that affect how users interact with the interface.

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Instructor Features in Your Course

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  1. Course menu: The access point for all course content. Instructors determine which links are available here. Learn more in the next section.
  2. Control Panel: The panel following the course menu is an instructor's access point for course management functions. You can manage the course style, course tools, and users from this area. Students do not see the Control Panel.
  3. Student preview: When student preview is enabled, you can review course content and validate course behaviors from a student's perspective. You are logged in with a student account, called the preview user account, and enrolled in the current course. To learn more, see Student Preview.

    Your institution may disable this feature.

  4. Edit Mode: When Edit Mode is ON, all the instructor functions appear. This includes action bar functions such as Build Content or the appearance of contextual menus. When Edit Mode is OFF, you are viewing the course as a student sees it. The Edit Mode function appears to users with a role of instructor, teaching assistant, course builder, and administrator.

    Your institution may disable this feature.

  5. Action bar: Rows at the top of the page containing page-level actions such as Build Content, Search, Delete, and Upload. The functions on the action bar change depending on where you are in your course. The action bar can contain multiple rows of functions such as on the main Grade Center page.
  6. Contextual menus: Many components in Blackboard Learn have contextual menus, such as content items, course menu links, or Grade Center columns. The options in the contextual menu vary depending on the component. Click the down arrow next to an item to access the contextual menu.

To learn about user interface features available to all users, see Navigate a Course.

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 create links on the course menu to present tools and materials to users. You can customize its appearance and order the links.

The course menu appears in a list view, which displays only the top level of course materials. You can choose buttons or text for your links. To change the style of the course menu, see Select the Menu Style.

Click the Display Course Menu in New Window icon File:en-us/Learn/9.1_2014_04/Instructor/040_In_Your_Course/015_Instructor_Features/new_window_icon.png to view the course materials as a directory tree in a new window. Users can expand the view to show the hierarchy of course navigation. 

Your institution can restrict options to maintain a consistent style for all courses. This can include making some tools unavailable or setting permanent course area names.

How to Create a Link on the Course Menu

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON and point to the plus sign above the course menu. The Add Menu Item drop-down list appears.
  2. Select the type of content to create.

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  3. Type a Name. Complete any other required text boxes, such as URL for Web Link.
  4. Select the Available to Users check box to allow users to see the link on the course menu. You can create content ahead of time, hide the link, and then show the link at the appropriate time.
  5. Click Submit. A link to the new content appears on the course menu.

Create an uncluttered course menu to maintain efficient navigation for your users, and try to limit the number of links included in the course menu. Use content areas to hold related items and give your course organization and structure.

Course Menu Components

The following table lists the types of content and tools you can include on the course menu. You can also include subheaders and divider lines to help visually organize the links for your users.

Course Menu Components
Type Description
Content area Content areas are the top-level course areas. They hold all of your course materials. You create, link, and manage them on the course menu. After you create a content area, you add content to it, such as online lectures, multimedia, tests, and communication tools. To learn more, see Create Course Areas for Content.
Blank page The blank page tool allows you to include files, images, and text as links on the course menu. Include blank pages on the course menu for critical information, as too many links on the course menu can overwhelm students. Remove blank pages from the course menu as soon as the information is no longer needed.
Tool link Create a link to an available tool in your course, such as the calendar or journals. You can also create a link to the Tools page.
Course link Create a shortcut to an existing area, tool, or item in a course.
Web link Create a link to a URL to provide quick access to a resource on the internet.
Module page Create a module page and choose the individual modules to include. The modules can be tools, such as a calculator, or the modules can display information, such as grades, alerts, and tasks.
Subheader A subheader is unlinked text. You can group related links under a subheader to help users find information quickly.
Divider A divider is a line that visually divides the course menu to help users find information quickly. After you create it, you can move it to the appropriate position.

Reorder and Manage Course Menu Links

You can organize and rename the course menu links to make them easier for students to use.

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  1. Use the drag-and-drop function to reorder course menu links.
  2. Alternatively, use the keyboard accessible reordering tool keyboard accessible reordering tool icon to reorder the links.
  3. Access a link's contextual menu and click Rename to change its title. Click Hide Link to make it unavailable to students. Click Show Link to make it available to students. If you Delete a content area, all content items within it are also permanently deleted. This action is final.
  4. With Edit Mode set to ON, an unavailable link title appears with a square with a diagonal line through it ( unavailable course menu icon ). Students do not see the link on the course menu.

Contextual Menus

Throughout Blackboard Learn, items that are acted upon by a user have a contextual menu associated with them. You access the contextual menu by clicking the arrow next to an item's title. The contextual menu contains options for many components in Blackboard Learn, such as content items, course menu links, or Grade Center columns. The options in the contextual menu vary depending on the component.

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Common Contextual Menu Options

The following options are common to many items in Blackboard Learn. If an option does not appear, you cannot perform it on that item.

  • Open
  • Edit
  • Copy
  • Move
  • Delete

Other Contextual Menu Options

These options will vary depending upon the type of item and a user's role. The following list is not comprehensive.

  • Adaptive Release options
  • Metadata
  • Statistics Tracking
  • User Progress
  • Email
  • Manage
  • Grade
  • Mark as New

Control Panel

The Control Panel appears below the course menu and provides access to all course administration. Use the arrows next to each link to expand or collapse the area. The Control Panel is only available if you have one of the following course roles: instructor, teaching assistant (TA), grader, course builder, or administrator.

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The Control Panel is comprised of the following areas.

Control Panel Areas
Area Function
Files or Content Collection

Each course has its own Course Files area accessed in the Files section of the Control Panel. With Course Files, you have access to all files from a central location inside the course. Course Files is relative to the course, so only content for the course is stored there. Content is not shared across courses taught by the same instructor. To learn more, see Course Files.

If your institution licenses content management, the Content Collection is available through this area. With it, institutions have a common content repository where users can share content. Therefore, you can add content to your course from other courses and from your computer, and manage it through the Content Collection. The section heading Content Collection appears instead of Files in the Control Panel. To learn more, see Content Collection.

Course Tools Contains all the available tools that are added to your course. To learn how to control which tools are available here, see Course Tool Availability.
Evaluation Provides links to course reports, the Retention Center, and the Performance Dashboard. Use these tools to view information about student activity and content usage, and to be notified about performance based on criteria you create. To learn more, see Course Reports, Retention Center, and Performance Dashboard.
Grade Center Provides links to the Needs Grading page, the Full Grade Center, default smart views of the Grade Center, and any smart views you create. Smart views appear in an indented list in the Full Grade Center section. To learn more, see Smart Views.
Users and Groups List, enroll, edit, and remove users from your course. Create formal groups of students to collaborate on work. To learn more, see Course Groups.
Customization Control enrollment options and guest and observer access. You can change the properties of your course, such as its name, availability, and language pack. You can use the Quick Setup Guide and Teaching Style page to modify the appearance of your course. Change tool availability to control which tools are available in your course and which users have access to them. To learn more, see Enrollment Options, Guest and Observer Access, Course Properties, Languages Other Than English, Course Style Options, and Course Tool Availability.
Packages and Utilities Import, export, and archive a course, check course links, copy all or part of the course, and move selected files to Course Files or the Content Collection (when available). To learn more, see Import Course Packages, Export and Archive Courses, Check Course Links, Copy Courses, Move Files to Course Files.
Help Offers online documentation.

Paging Options

You can edit the paging options to specify how many items appear on a page in Blackboard Learn. For example, you can determine how many forums appear on the main discussion board page or how many items appear on the Needs Grading page.

The default is 25 items per page and the maximum number of items is 1,000 per page. Show All displays all items and causes the other controls to disappear. For performance, the items per page should not be greatly expanded.

Use the following steps to edit the paging options:

  1. Click Edit Paging.
  2. Type a number in the Items per page box. If the number is greater than the total number of items, then all items appear. If the number is less than one, then one item appears.
  3. Click OK.

Course Home Page

By default, a link to the course's Home Page appears in the course menu, but your institution can change this. It contains modules that inform you of course events and notifications. The modules function similar to the modules on the My Institution tab. You can use the links in modules to navigate to areas in your courses and add, delete, and rearrange modules. To learn more, see Modules.

Your institution can rename modules and determine which are available.

The Home Page is often the default course entry point, which means this is the first page students see when they enter your course. To learn how to change the page, see Select the Course Entry Point.

To edit the Home Page's settings, access its contextual menu next to the title above the action bar. For example, change the setting to enable users to personalize their Home Pages.

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