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Hey PAs, this guide is to help you out when it comes to getting the most out of Blackboard. Hopefully there will be information on here for everyone from the seasoned Blackboard user to the newest PA. We are going to cover some of the more common and useful tools that Blackboard has to offer specifically for the FIG classes. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me!

-Danny McGrath

Step 1: Edit Mode

Edit Mode is a slider located near the top right of the page. This gives you the opportunity to see exactly what your students see (Edit Mode Off) when they log in.

Step 2: Main Page

This is the first page your students will see when they log into Blackboard and view the FIG Class Page. By default, this also serves as the Announcement Page. Any Announcements you create will appear on this page for the convenience of your students.

Step 3: Announcements

By clicking on the “Create Announcement” button from the main page, you are brought to the Create Announcement page. This is most often used for text and/or link comments that your students simply need to read. Information about assignments or course content will be discussed on later slides.

Step 4: Time Options

Time Options give you opportunity to tailor your Announcements by date. You can create a future announcement that will not appear to students until a certain date and remove itself from view at a certain time as well. These options are available for all Announcements, Assignments and other items you post on Blackboard.

Step 5: Syllabus

By clicking on the Syllabus button on the left list you are brought to the Syllabus page. This is the most convenient place for you to post and make updates to your FIG syllabus for your students to view.

Blackboard actually contains a Syllabus Creator (Build Content -> Syllabus), but since all PAs have already created syllabi from this summer, it is easier to post your syllabus as a preexisting file. To do this from the Syllabus page, click on Build Content -> File and then you are taken to the Create File page. The Name option is the link students will click to access your syllabus. Clicking Browse My Computer allows you to post a preexisting file from your hard drive or flash drive. This post also gives you time options, setting when the post is visible to students. Not filling this section out simply displays the post indefinitely.

Step 6: Instructor Info

By clicking on the Instructor Info button on the left list you are brought to the Contacts page. This is the best place to post the contact information for both you and your CoFac. (be sure to double check with your CoFac to see what is the most appropriate way for students to contact them if necessary). By clicking Create Contact, you are brought to a page where you can fill out basic information such as name and email address or as in-depth as office hours and pictures. Feel free to be as specific as you would like, check out some of your own professors’ Blackboard pages as a guide if you are unsure.

Step 7: Course Content

By clicking on the Course Content button on the left list you are brought to the Course Content page. This is a good place to post anything that does not fit as an Announcement or an Assignment. Many professors post their class notes, web links and other useful files on this page. You may use this for posting links to websites mentioned in class as useful tools or posting your presentations so students can refer back to them after class. Building Content is very similar to the Syllabus page, but your posts will most likely be “Items” under the Build Content Button. The difference between Items and Files is that Items have text details associated with the post along with the option for file attachment. If you simply want to post a file with no surrounding information, then creating a File is your best bet. Creating an Item in the Course Content section gives you space to create a Name, Text which will serve as description for the post, File Attachment and the familiar Time options.

Step 8: Assignments

The Assignments page will be one of the most visited and used pages on your Blackboard site. By clicking on the Assignment button on the left list you are brought to the Assignments page. This page also gives you the freest range to create relevant posts for your students. One way to post an assignment is the same as described on the Course Content Page, building an Item with Name, Description, File Attachment and Time Options. Another option is using Blackboard’s Assignment Creator. By clicking the Assessments button followed by Assignment you are brought to the Assignment Creator Page. This is an expansion of the Item Creator Page, starting with Name, Description, and File Attachment, but it also includes useful tools that will help with Grading. These include the Points Possible box and the highly recommended option of Add Rubric. Adding a rubric gives you the option to submit a preexisting rubric file or use Blackboard’s Rubric Creator. Time options are included here as well, giving you the opportunity to post assignments ahead of time the will not show up until a certain time. Due Dates are also extremely useful, as Blackboard will automatically mark submissions after this time as “Late”.

Step 9: Send Email

By clicking on the Send Email button on the left list you are brought to the Send Email page. This is a very convenient place to send information to your whole FIG class at once, including your CoFac. Be careful when you use this feature though, it can be very similar to reply vs. replay all.

Step 10: Grade Center

By scrolling down to the control panel, you can see the Grade Center Button. Clicking Full Grade Center brings you to the main page you will be using for your FIG grades. Any assignments submitted on Blackboard from the Assignments page will sort themselves into the Needs Grading page to help streamline the process. You can still add in grades for non-Blackboard assignments, such as participation and worksheets.

Step 11: Grade Center - Creating Columns

Most Assignments should be added to the Grade Center as a Created Column. This gives you the opportunity to make a display name, total possible Points and pick options as to how the column will display for yourself and students. The Calculated Column button is useful for creating adjusting columns. Examples of this would be the Average Column for an updating class grade and a Total Column, which keeps a tally of the class’s total points. These columns do work for you by using information that you have already placed in other columns.

It is very important to keep your Grade Center as up to date as possible. Just like your own professors, your students are going to have questions about their grades and about the grades of specific assignments. Blackboard’s Grade Center gives you the chance to have many of these questions already answered.

Step 12: Final Thoughts

Blackboard can be as useful of a tool as you want it to be. There are many built-in tools and options that we have not covered that may prove useful for your specific FIG. If you have any Grade Center specific questions, please email me with my name in the subject. If you have any other questions or need additional help, please do not hesitate to contact me or your own SC. Good luck!

–Danny McGrath
I always found blackboard to be very user friendly if the instructor sets the board up correctly. :) It's when instructors get a little to creative with what they call things or have broken links and so on that it makes you want to pull your hair out. Nice instuctable.

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