The Ultimate Guide to BlackBoard: 100 Tips & Tutorials

By Britney Wilkins

College professors and students have been using Blackboard as a platform for sharing notes, uploading class materials and taking tests for a while now, but there’s still a lot to learn. Elementary and high school students are getting in on the action, too, and developers continue to create new tools and accessories that make Blackboard better than ever. Read below for our list of 100 tips and tutorials to using all of Blackboard’s features.

The Basics

Before you can try out the new tools, you’ve got to make sure you understand the basics.

  1. Preparing Your Course: This guide discusses enrollment and the first set-up steps for your course on BlackBoard.
  2. Opening, Saving and Printing File Attachments on BlackBoard: Print out your uploaded notes and documents by following these instructions.
  3. How to Upload a Document to the Discussion Board: Add a document to the discussion board to prep your students for a class discussion.
  4. Checking Your Grades: Students will find a simple guide for checking their grades here.
  5. Assignments and Grading Papers: Manage your Assignments and Gradebook on BlackBoard more effectively when you consider these tips.
  6. Top 10 BlackBoard Tips for Students: Dartmouth posts this helpful guide on their site, with directions on how to search BlackBoard, customize your home page and more.
  7. BlackBoard Tips and Tutorials for Faculty: Find helpful articles and instructions for sending e-mail and posting announcements here.
  8. Tips for Deploying a Test in BlackBoard: Learn about timed tests and forced completion options in this tutorial.
  9. How to Use the Assignments Feature to Collect Student Work: Have students turn in assignments without having to print out papers with this method.
  10. Assignments: Learn all about managing and creating assignments here.

General Tips for Students

From sending e-mail to taking tests on e-mail, students will find these tips useful.

  1. Exam-Taking Tips: Keep these tips in mind when taking a test on Blackboard.
  2. Sending E-mail: If you’re already on BlackBoard, sending an e-mail through the system will save time.
  3. Blackboard Login Procedures: Remember these very basic login instructions whenever you want to access Blackboard.
  4. Taking Assessments on Blackboard: Here is another resource that gives advice for students submitting tests on Blackboard.

What Blackboard Can do for You

Why use Blackboard in the first place? Read these articles to find out.

  1. Why I Started Using Blackboard: This UT professor explains why she started using Blackboard to facilitate her distance ed. classes.
  2. Why Use Blackboard?: George Washington University lists several convincing reasons to use Blackboard.

Wikis

Blackboard wikis have caught on as a free, easy space to collaborate on school work. Read about ways to integrate wikis here.

  1. What is the Wiki Tool?: Get an overview of how wikis work with Blackboard here.
  2. How to Add a Wiki to Your BlackBoard Course: Use this feature as another collaboration tool on BlackBoard.
  3. Group Workspace: Stony Brook University gives a great step-by-step introduction to creating and using wiki tools on Blackboard.
  4. Using the Wiki Tool in Blackboard for Teaching: Discover new ways to use the wiki in your classroom and through Blackboard.
  5. Using Wikis Within Blackboard: Sections in this guide include "Getting Started with Wikis," "How to Add a Picture to a Wiki Page," "How to View Wiki Page History and Recover Deleted Pages," and others.

Collaboration with BlackBoard

Read below for information on student home pages, groups and more.

  1. Student Home Pages: This quick how-to gives directions for letting students share information with a home page.
  2. Using the Group File Exchange Area: Learn to take advantage of this feature here.
  3. Discussion Board: This popular feature is explained in more detail here.
  4. Creating and Managing Groups: Follow along as this interactive tutorial teaches you about BlackBoard groups.
  5. BlackBoard Organization: Get your club or other organization on BlackBoard and set up a Community tab.
  6. Archiving Discussion Board Threads: Save your threads for later use and class discussions by watching this guide.
  7. ePortfolios: Blackboard’s tutorial of ePortfolios includes a tour of how to save and share materials.
  8. Collaborative Web-Enabled File Storage: Discover how to manage and share files and folders on Blackboard.

BlackBoard Plus…

Blackboard works with other medium and online platforms, like Facebook and podcasting. Broaden your Blackboard horizons here.

  1. How to Podcast Using BlackBoard: Posts podcasts as extra study materials and class discussion prompts by working with this tutorial.
  2. How to Add BlackBoard to Facebook: Impress your students by linking up BlackBoard and Facebook.
  3. How to Add a Blog to Your BlackBoard Course: Keep your students updated with a blog on BlackBoard.
  4. Link to e-books: This UT page shows professors how to link e-books to their BlackBoard page.
  5. Podcasting Tool: Learn more about podcasting with Blackboard here.
  6. Google Scholar Building Block: This in-the-works tool integrates Google Scholar with Blackboard, so teachers can search Google Scholar and bring up results for their students within Blackboard.

Testing

Learn about giving tests on Blackboard in this list.

  1. What is an assessment?: Learn how to design different types of quizzes and assessments here.
  2. Using the Pool Manager: Save questions that you’ll reuse over and over on different tests with this tool.
  3. Creating a test: Save time and resources by creating a test for your students on BlackBoard.
  4. Determining Grades and Exemptions: Manage test grades after you watch this tutorial.

Troubleshooting

For help with browsers, chat and other Blackboard problems, turn to this list.

  1. How to Empty Your Browser Cache: This easy trick may help solve some of your BlackBoard problems.
  2. Proper File Display: If other students or your professors can’t read your file uploads, use this guide to fix the problem.
  3. Turn Off Pop-Up Blockers to Use the Chat and Virtual Classroom: If you’re having a hard time finding your chat features, turn off your pop-up blockers.
  4. Modifying a user: If you’re having trouble accessing a part of BlackBoard, consider modifying your user information or status.
  5. Browser Tune Up: Your browser might be to blame if you have problems with WebCT and Blackboard.
  6. Course Link Checker: This tool notifies instructors of broken links in the Content Collection.
  7. Clearing an assignment attempt: Give students a second chance by letting them resubmit work with this feature.
  8. Reducing Large File Sizes for Blackboard: If you have trouble uploading a file, it may be too big. If that’s the case, use this guide to resize it.
  9. Known Issues with the Blackboard System: This guide goes over a few common problems with Blackboard, including assessment timeouts and incomplete assessments, and offers solutions.
  10. Bugs Reported and Response: Here’s a post with an older update on Blackboard bugs, but it still offers valuable tips on fixing announcements, WebLinks and more.
  11. Behind Blackboard: Visit the official support page for Blackboard for updates information and more troubleshooting help.

Student Hacks

These tips for students include information on home pages, assignments, chat help and more.

  1. Editing Your Homepage: Make the most of your student home page by following this guide.
  2. Browse courses as a guest: Get an overview of different courses on BlackBoard this way.
  3. BlackBoard Tips for Students: Visit this wiki for troubleshooting and student user tips.
  4. How to Hack Your BlackBoard Login: Check out this time saver for hacking your login information.
  5. Blackboard Assignments: Find assistance for submitting assignments, editing the course home page and checking your grades here.
  6. Chat Help: This mock-up of getting to a chat on George Washington University’s site will help Blackboard users all over.
  7. Synchronous Collaboration: Check out this site for help decoding Blackboard chats, visual classroom tools and more.
  8. Asynchronous Communication: Students will find help for subscribing to a forum, collecting threads, marking threads, flagging threads and more on this page.
  9. Using Tasks: Manage your tasks by watching this tutorial.
  10. Adding Files to Content System: George Washington University’s tutorial clearly shows students how to add to the content system.

List of Guides

Read these guides to access lots of information about Blackboard in one spot.

  1. BlackBoard Tips and Techniques: Eastern Washington University has compiled this list of popular FAQs for teachers.
  2. Tips for Using BlackBoard with JAWS 3.7: Check out this guide from the UNC website.
  3. BlackBoard Tips and Tricks: More advanced users can benefit from this programming guide.
  4. Important BlackBoard Tips: From file naming to discussion boards, get help with important BlackBoard questions here.
  5. Adding TAs: If you have a Teaching Assistant, give them access to your materials and controls here.
  6. e-reserves: Learn how to put materials on reserve for your students through BlackBoard.
  7. Integrating Library Resources into Your Blackboard Courses: This guide is specifically for the J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College library, but teachers from all over can use it as a general overview.
  8. James Madison University BlackBoard Support: Use this resource to help you learn about discussion boards, course content, gradebooks and more.
  9. The GW Blackboard Tour: George Washington University’s Blackboard Tour for faculty members also has lots of general Blackboard tips and information.
  10. Using Library Resources: Find out how to link to a library home page, subscribe to electronic resources and provide direct links to library catalogs here.

Tools and Building Blocks

Find out about new tools that other universities and developers are trying out to make their Blackboard experiences even better.

  1. Calendar Appointment Scheduler: This BlackBoard tool lets students sign up for appointments with professors or TAs.
  2. Advanced Group Management: This improved group management tool features an "all-in-one location" for you to create or delete groups and members, and customize group settings.
  3. Online Attendance: Instructors have several options for managing attendance with this tool, which also lets students review a summary of their absences.
  4. Document Unpackager: Teachers can upload a zip file with this tool.
  5. Power User Enrollment: With this tool, a teacher can "enroll multiple users into the course site all in one step…and also designate the role of the user."
  6. Who’s Online Portal Module: See who else is on Blackboard with this tool.
  7. RSS Module with Descriptions: Customize the manner in which you want your Blackboard headlines and descriptions displayed.
  8. Content System Website Tool: Create new websites for yourself or your courses with this tool.
  9. SafeAssign: Blackboard’s "plagiarism prevention service" monitors student assignments for stolen content.
  10. Turnitin Blackboard Integration Movie: Use Turnitin to monitor plagiarism and manage gradebook integration with Blackboard.

Clean Up and Management

Keep your Blackboard running efficiently by taking note of these clean up and management tips.

  1. Hide Your Old Courses: Remove old courses to help you stay focused on BlackBoard.
  2. How to Drop the Lowest Grades in the Gradebook: Set up an option for your BlackBoard gradebook to drop your students’ lowest grades by ungrading those assignments.
  3. Manage Content with BlackBoard’s Copy Tools: Share materials with other courses with this feature.
  4. Item File Clean Up: Use this Assignment Manager tool to clean up your queue.
  5. Displaying Courses: Customize, edit and add courses to BlackBoard.

Customization

Customize your Blackboard experience with these tricks.

  1. Create Your Own Display Option in the Gradebook: Add symbols, values and other customizable tools to your gradebook.
  2. Content Types: Learn about all the different content types that you can add to BlackBoard, like MERLOT, Rich URL, Learning Units and others.
  3. Customize Display on Home Tab: Here you’ll find different ways to customize your Home display.
  4. Glossary Tool: Create word glossaries for your different courses with this tool.
  5. Customizing Blackboard: Northern Illinois University has tips for teachers who want to customize their Blackboard experience.

Miscellaneous

From a Blackboard glossary to the control panel, turn to this final list for even more tutorials.

  1. Improvements in BlackBoard 6.3: From the syllabus builder to multi-language support, review these older updates if you’re having any trouble.
  2. Blackboard Glossary of Terms: Work your way through tutorials and set up with the help of this glossary.
  3. Post-Semester Course Options: Discover how to recycle course materials, copy a course or archive a course here.
  4. The Control Panel: Give yourself a crash course to Blackboard usability with these tutorials.
  5. Using Blackboard Building Blocks with Macromedia Flash MX Technology: Try out new Blackboard tools with Flash by reading this article.
  6. Blackboard TV: Browse this site for instructional videos and tips for using Blackboard more creatively.
  7. A Worm’s Eye View of the Blackboard System: Consider the points that Dr. Robin Dix discusses in this overview of using Blackboard.

Blackboard and eLearning Blogs

Check out these blogs for the latest information on Blackboard and other elearning platforms.

  1. Blackboard K-12 Blog: Blackboard isn’t just for colleges. K-12 teachers can find their own resources and tips here.
  2. Blackboard Developers Blog: Get the latest on new tools and accessories for Blackboard.
  3. Heath’s Blackboard Blog: Heath posts about new Blackboard tools, Blackboard wikis, and troubleshooting.

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