BbStarter Strategies

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Getting Started Overview

Welcome to the University of Windsor’s Blackboard Learn learning management system application. Please review the information in this guide to help familiarize yourself with the Blackboard Learn system and its many features.

Is your Edit Mode set to On?

Edit Mode Options
Edit Mode Options
  • To activate the customization functions in your course site, ensure you have set the Edit Mode to ON (see image to right). Otherwise, it will be like having the car in the driveway, without a way to make it start!

Checklist for a Quick Start

Review the Instructor Semester Checklist below to ensure you are ready to work with your course to start a new semester.

  • Check to see that your course shell has automatically been created under the Courses tab (at the top of the screen). Courses, when automatically generated, are set to not be available to students. If you are missing your course, please submit a Service Request at http://www.uwindsor.ca/bbhelp and provide details as listed in the Getting a Course site wiki article.
  • If you have a previous Blackboard site with contents you wish to reuse, visit the export and import from an existing Blackboard site articles from Blackboard's online help, or start fresh by adding new materials. Review for accuracy, visibility, correct dates and availability.
    • If you wish to import content from a previous CLEW site, visit the CLEW Import Tool article. CLEW materials will be available to copy into Blackboard until December 2018.
  • Add your syllabus to a content area to inform your class about learning objectives, policies, and important information.
    • Note - there may already be a "Syllabus" Content Area in your course shell where you can simply upload a file, or choose to use the Syllabus template to walk you through steps of creating a Syllabus in Blackboard.
  • Add or remove tools to be available in your course site. Be clear about what you are or are not using to avoid confusing students who are looking for materials in tools not being used.
  • Add members of your teaching team to including co-instructors, GAs, or TAs, who may assist with the site. Note: students registered in your course through the SIS will automatically be populated and maintained in your course site. You should not need to add or delete student enrollment. This short video will provide details on how to add a user like a support staff member, or a GA/TA. Add User video (4:32)

Find out what permissions are included in each role by checking out the UWindsor Bb Permissions and Roles article. If you have questions, please submit a Service Request at http://www.uwindsor.ca/bbhelp.

  • Send an announcement or send an email to your class to welcome them to your course and where to find the Syllabus or other important items.
    • Note - Announcements can be emailed to your class, only if you choose under Duration - "Not Date Restricted" and check Send a copy of this announcement immediately from the options.
    • All registered students will have access to a Blackboard Student Orientation online self-paced course from their Courses tab to help them get familiar with the system, but you still need to let them know how to find content in your course.

Accessing Online Help, Tutorials And Resources

help.blackboard.com is home to a wealth of resources for help with all your Blackboard related questions. Here you can find support organized by user types: Administrator, Instructor and Student, in the form of articles, videos and tutorials covering all types of topics and help that users may need. This site even includes help for mobile versions of Blackboard.

When visiting the site, be sure to select the correct Blackboard release that you are working on. For all UWindsor users, we are using the Learn: Original Experience (version 9.1 2014). If you forget, all information can be found at the bottom of the log in page, under Installation Details.

Logging into Blackboard Learn

Please navigate to blackboard.uwindsor.ca to access the login page (above). Use your UWin ID and password to log in. If you don’t have a UWin ID, please contact Service Desk at ext. 4440. You will need a UWin employee number first, which is issued by Human Resources at ext. 2047.
UWindsor Login
UWindsor Login

First Login

After your first login, you will be taken to the “Welcome Veil”. This will only appear on your first login. Here, you are given an option: visit the Global Navigation Menu. Review the material from the Global navigation, and click Close to exit the Welcome Veil. You won't see the veil on subsequent logins.

Global Navigation Menu

On the top-right corner of every Blackboard screen, you will see the Global Navigation menu. This Global Navigation video provides an overview of its function and features. Your User Name is your global Blackboard Identification relating to your user role, which designates your Blackboard experience, access and views. This is set by System Administrator only and uses the email address you provide as your unique identifier linking a user with Blackboard account. More about the Global Navigation features in this Blackboard Video.

Student Preview

Student Preview Button

A great feature offered in Blackboard 9.1 is the Student View. Located under the tabs towards the top, right corner of your screen, it looks like an eye, and allows you to switch your screen view from facilitator to student and back so you can see exactly what your students see. If you select "Keep the preview user and student data" upon exiting the Student View, you can also maintain "student work" if you are testing out a feature. This is handy if you want to see what the student experiences when completing an assessment, and show you what it is like to grade the assessment. More on the Student Preview is available at help.blackboard.com.

Request Course Site and the Course Creation Process

Blackboard Learn's course creation process is different than used with CLEW. You won't need to request a site anymore except in special circumstances when your course site isn't automatically generated.

Instead, there will be an automatic process whereby, once your course code is entered into the Student Information System (SIS), and you are connected to that course in the SIS as the Instructor of Record, a regular process runs and will automatically create a "Course Shell." This shell is not available to students by default until you make it available.

You will see this newly created course when you log in to Blackboard and review your courses. Courses are seen at the top of the Blackboard site under the Courses tab, or when you are on the Home tab, it appears as My Courses. Finally, it can also be seen from the Global Navigation drop-down list up by your name in the top right corner of the Blackboard site. The course will appear with a unique code, the course code, and the course name.

If you do not have a course shell created, but you know you will need one, (and it is listed in the SIS) AND you are listed as the Instructor of Record, complete a Service Request at http://www.uwindsor.ca/bbhelp. Please provide the course code, section, semester, your UWin ID (and other instructors, or Departmental Support staff's UWin ID's) with your request. If you are just getting started (i.e. recently hired), ensure your department has submitted your UWin ID and Course Code to the Registrar to be included in the SIS. This will trigger a Blackboard course shell to be created within 24 hours.

See the Getting a Course Site wiki article for more information.

Organizing and Sorting your Course Sites

After a while in Blackboard, you will start to acquire a long list of course and organization sites. The organization of those sites can be tamed by using a customization setting that is available when you "hover" over the My Courses tab top right corner, or the Home Tab, Courses module top right corner. This short video shows how you can accomplish this in minutes!

Set Course Availability

Not Currently Available list

Courses come automatically set to "No" to prevent unintended issues, so you must activate them manually when you are ready.

Additionally, you will notice that your courses are unavailable when reviewing your list of courses in the Course tab as the "not currently available" text appears beside the name of the course.

"Set Available Lock icon"
Set Available Lock Icon
  • To the left of the Edit Mode function, you will see an Availability icon that appears like a lock. Toggle that icon to make the site available or not available to students. You will also see the (site not currently available) text beside the Course Title disappear once the site is visible to students.

Alternative Course Availability Activation Process

  • Navigate to the Control Panel (left side of your course site, below the course menu) and select Customization -> Properties -> Set Availability. Switch to Yes, and click Submit.

Customized Start or End Date

Customized start date settings
Customized start date settings

If you would like your students to have access prior to the Term Duration beginning date or extend past the default term end date, you need to add one more additional step to the above Alternative Course Availability Process (above).

  • Make note of the Term Duration dates as they are visible before you make any changes to maintain the correct date! - see Customized start date settings thumbnail image - right.
  • Then use the date picker tools to alter the Start Date or the End Date
  • Then click Submit to complete the process.

Student Enrollment - Add students, GA or TA or Departmental Support

Once your course site has been created, the student enrollment will be automatic and continue to be updated when students add or drop your course through the SIS. You likely won't need to touch the student enrollment. They won't see the site until the site has been made active (see above). A good rule of thumb regarding the automation process of students who add / drop a course is that today's adds/drops will be reflected in Blackboard early tomorrow morning, but possibly much sooner (probably within the hour).

If you do need to add someone to a site such as a GA, or TA, or departmental support ensure you know their UWin ID. Access this function through the Users and Groups link in the Control Panel. Instructions are available regarding adding users from the Manage Users article at help.blackboard.com. This short video will provide details on how to add a user like a support staff member, or a GA/TA. Add User video (4:32)

You don't need to delete users - just make their status inactive through the Users and Groups function above.

Students Who Drop Your Course

Students, once registered in a course who drop the course, are not removed. Instead, their status is changed to "Unavailable", but they are stealthed in the site so you don't see them anymore. This is done so that all work / activity they may have completed in the course, is retained in the course site. If students actually get removed them from the site, anything they may have submitted is also completely removed. Occasionally, some students mistakenly try to switch sections or are simply trying to adjust their courses in SIS and have on numerous occasions dropped a course inadvertently.

A good rule of thumb regarding the automation process of students who add / drop a course is that today's adds/drops will be reflected in Blackboard early tomorrow morning, but possibly much sooner (probably within the hour).

How do I access a Roster in my course?

Instructors can download their roster from the Grade Centre. Select: Grade Centre / Work Offline / Download / User Information Only.

Export or Archive your Completed Course

Once you have completed your course, have your grades in, and want to use materials again in the future in your next course shell, you can use the Blackboard Packages and Utilities features to export or archive or import materials.

To access, click Packages and Utilities from the Control Panel. Then, click the Export / Archive Course option. See below for descriptions of functions:

  • Export Course creates a package of course content that can later be imported into the same course or a different course.
  • Archive Course creates a permanent record of a course, including all the content and user interactions available at the time the Archive is created.
  • Export Common Cartridge creates a package that can be shared across learning management systems (you probably won't need to use this feature).

You must have the proper permissions to perform these operations You will receive an email from the system telling you when the files (.zip) will be ready to download. Save the files in a secure place for use in the future. Use the Export Course option if you plan on reusing the material in future courses. You will be able to select all or parts of the course you want to bring into the next course shell.

Course Copy and Template Sites

Template Sites

Instructors who wish to have a template site to develop and maintain, which would be used to copying forward into empty course shells can request one by logging in to http://www.uwindsor.ca/bbhelp. Indicate the course name you wish this site to have e.g. Research Methods Template Winter Semester and a suggested easily identifiable course id, e.g. RMTmyuwinidW. After this site has been prepared, you can simply use the Copy Course utility to clone it for the next semester you are teaching. You can request as many of these template sites as you need to maintain a pristine copy of your course for the next time you offer it.

Course Copy

To perform this function follow the steps below:

  • Determine what the site ID is for the site you wish to copy your materials to - this is called the destination site, and copy it onto your clipboard or into a word document. This is found at the top of the course menu containing numbers and sometimes letters, but not whole words.

Next, navigate in Blackboard to your course list to find the course that you want to use to copy the content 'from'. We will call this the source course.

  • When you are in this site, ensure your Edit Mode is set to On, and
  • then scroll down to the Control Panel, click on Packages and Utilities and then click on the Course Copy option. Once the course copy page comes up, you're going to the Select Copy Type option where you will choose the Copy Course Materials into an Existing Course from the drop-down list.
  • Then, scroll down to the Destination Course ID and now paste the Course ID (destination site above that you have on your clipboard or copy it from the word document we identified previously).
  • A simple choice is to scroll down a bit further to Select Copy Options and choose the Select All to copy the entire site and settings the material that you want to copy over.
  • Then if choosing Select All, scroll down to Enrollments – and make sure this is not checked off or you will copy in your student list from the source course.
  • Wait for the email indicating the copying has completed, then visit your destination site to update for the next semester.

Considerations when Selecting Areas to Copy

Some thoughts to consider when Selecting the Course Materials –

"Choosing a module in a Content Area to copy"
Choosing a module in a Content Area to copy
  • Announcements - After the course copy operation completes, your content will merge from your source site to the empty course shell. Therefore, you may want to consider deselecting Announcements for the course copy as unfortunately, there is no quick way to delete all past messages and announcements. You can always recreate an announcement one at a time by copying individually.
  • Content Area Choices - You can select specific Content Areas listed on your menu or copy all the Content Areas over to your new course.
  • Discussion Board Considerations - If copying the discussion board tool over, you can bring over the starter posts for each thread in the forum or just the forums with no posts. The starter posts will be anonymized, but upon opening the discussion board in the course, the instructor will have the option to set an author for the anonymized posts. If you had a lot of student content, this may NOT be desirable, as if you set yourself as the author, everything is attributed to you. Therefore, a better option might be to choose the Include only the forums, with no starter posts. If you are using the template version, however, without any student content, you might prefer the Include starter posts for each thread in each forum, where you have set up an initial post.
  • Assignments and Grade Centre Columns - If you want to copy Assignments or Assessments, you must select the Grade Center Columns and Settings option. The grade center columns and settings are attached to assignments or assessments. If you do not select the Grade Center Columns and Settings option, your Assignments and Assessments will be blank after the course copy is complete.
  • Default Grade Centre Columns - Your destination site will have an existing default Total and Weighted Total column with no configurations. If you have selected the Grade Centre Columns and Settings option above with the Course Copy, you will need to delete the default Total and Weighted Total columns, or you will have duplicate columns. This is especially important if you have configured your Weighted Total column in your source course.
  • Video Files - We recommend using a video streaming service such as YouTube or UView at the University of Windsor and copying the link to the video into your course site rather than copying actual video files. This is to prevent many unintended problems with large files, including that of time-outs when users try to download those large files.
  • Content and Links - To optimize file space and ensure existing content included in the source course gets copied, we recommend using the Copy links and copies of the content option This choice makes copies of linked files but ONLY those files that are linked to course content. Files within the course's home folder in the Content Collection that are not linked to any content are NOT included in the copy.
  • Bulk Delete - If you find that you’ve copied over an entire tool’s content that you don’t desire in the destination site, you can also use the Bulk Delete option found under the Packages and Utilities section in the Control Panel to reverse parts of an import. Then repeat with the correct choices. Careful though, Bulk Delete is just that! Everything you choose is GONE, and unavailable to retrieve again! That’s why the tool prompts you with a confirmation!

Closing Courses

Courses will be automatically closed to students by the first day of the next semester. You won't need to do anything to your course site to disable student access. If you have a special circumstance where you need to keep it open, please submit a Service Request and include the course details (name, section, number, your UWin ID, as well as the length you need it open for). The instructional team will continue to have access to the course site through the Courses tab, but it will appear as (currently not available) status.

Import Your Content from a Previous CLEW Site

Use the CLEW Import tool once you are in the new course shell to import materials from CLEW (specific tools only) into the new Blackboard course. To do this, go to the Control Panel -> Course Tools -> CLEW Import tool -> and follow the on-screen prompts for the course and materials that you wish to import. Review the warning/error/message after you are done to see if further follow-up is necessary. Review all content that has been imported for availability, links working, setting up further functions (i.e. Assignments). For more information on using CLEW Import tool, visit the [Blackboard Help Wiki] article.

Please don't get impatient! It may take a while to import your content. If you press the Submit button more than once, you risk having multiple copies of materials in your course site. If you experience errors on import, please submit a ticket with the details.

Continue to add materials to your site until you are ready to make it available to your students. See the other lessons on this site to help you with how to do that.

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We are constantly trying to improve the information in this Wiki.
If you notice any errors or omissions with this material, please advise the LMS Team or submit a Service Request at http://www.uwindsor.ca/bbhelp.