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Blackboard Help

Express Theme

What is Express?

The Express theme provides your institution enhanced branding capabilities to allow both basic and advanced users with tools to completely customize the appearance of their site, course categories, and courses. Express places the branding power in your hands and provides the following benefits.

  • Access to dynamic information about users and courses
  • Ability to change appearance with and without advanced coding skills
  • Creation of templates that can be selected or have their colors altered by an instructor at the course level
  • Real-time updates to the branding and appearance
  • Site-wide templates for consistent site-wide look and feel, with personal touches at the department or course level
  • Easy-to-modify dynamic/drop-down navigational menus

Your administrator decides what your Express theme looks and feels like.


Turn Express on

Steps: Course administration > Edit Settings > Appearance > Force Theme > Express

To add the Express theme in your course, edit the course appearance in course settings. This forces your course to appear in the Express theme to everyone in it.

  1. From the Course administration block select Edit settings.
  2. Expand Appearance.
  3. From the Force Theme menu select Express.

Format your Express course

Steps: Course administration > Edit settings > Course Format > Format

The following formats work best in Express.

  • Flexpage: Flexpage allows you to create a flexible set of pages and sub pages where blocks and activities can be placed in any location on the page instead of being restricted to a right, left or center column. Flexpage courses let you decide if you want one, two, or three columns of data in a course and how wide.

    Advantages: You can control how to present the information for learners. | Disadvantages: Could be difficult to keep course page organized.

  • Folder-view: The folder view allow you to organize content into specific any type of category you want to create, including subject categories. Titles should provide the student a clear indication of what each section contains. For example, The Decline of the British Empire is a more descriptive title than Topic 6.1.

    Advantages: Clear experience for learners. | Disadvantages: Could be difficult for students to determine when projects are due.

  • Single Activity: Create a single page for specific type of activities and resources, such as for handouts, or reading materials. Create section titles that relate to the content type, rather than the file type. For example, a section titled Course Reading is more descriptive than PDFs.

    Advantages: Useful for sites with lots of files. | Disadvantages: Can distract from logic learning sequence.

  • Social Format: For courses that require discussion of topics, you can create your course based on the discussions. Titles should provide the student a clear indication of each discussion topic.

    Advantages: Clear experience for learners requiring discussion-based content. | Disadvantages: Could be difficult for students to determine when discussion comments and other projects are due.

  • Topic-based: Topic based courses organize content into specific subject categories. Titles should provide the student a clear indication of what each section contains. For example, The Decline of the British Empire is a more descriptive title than Topic 6.1.

    Advantages: Clearest experience for learners. | Disadvantages: Could be difficult for students to determine when projects are due.

  • Week-based: Structure a course by week if you don't have obvious themes. Time-based organization works will when there is a lot of interaction with students. It is not useful if you want students to re-visit the content as a reference later on.

    Advantages: Simple for teachers. | Disadvantages: A Chapter Title of Week 6


Add activities and resources in Express

Step: Turn editing on > Add Resources

You can add an activity or resource.

  1. Select the activity or resource you want to add.
  2. Edit the resource or activity and save.

Edit activities and resources in Express

Turn the editing on and make any changes as needed.

  • Move: Change the location of the activity, resource, or label.
  • Hide: Hide the activity, resource, or label.
  • Duplicate: Copy the activity, resource, or label.
  • Assign roles: Assign a specific user role to the activity, resource, or label.
  • Delete: Delete the activity, resource, or label.
  • Personalized Learning Designer: Open the Personalized Learning Designer.

Grade in Express

  • Use the Grader to view and grade submitted assignments and forum posts.

    Steps: Course Administration > Joule Grader > Show Activities Requiring Grading

    More on the Grader

  • View the Gradebook with a simple landing page of gradebook category and course totals.

    Steps: Course Administration > Grades > Joule Gradebook

    More on the Gradebook


Message students in Express

Steps: Course Tools > Participants

Visit the course participant list to message a student.

  1. Select Current Course and select Participants.
  2. Check the participants you want to message.
  3. Select Send a message from the Choose menu.
  4. Compose your message and send.