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Getting Started in Blackboard

Contents

Overview
How Do I Log Into Blackboard?
Design Your Course
The Announcement Page
Faculty Information
Including a Syllabus
Adding Your Content into Blackboard
Setting up the Grade Center
Making Your Course Available to Students
Contact for Blackboard Assistance

Overview

CourseWeb is the University of Pittsburgh’s implementation of Blackboard Learn, an online
course management system licensed from Blackboard, Inc. Instructors at Pitt use CourseWeb as
an electronic extension of their classrooms. They use it to post course materials online, to
facilitate discussion between students via electronic message boards, to administer assignments,
tests and quizzes, and to post assessment feedback including grades.

Because CourseWeb is available to faculty, staff, and students 24 hours a day, it allows Pitt
faculty and students to locate important course information and complete their coursework
when and where it is most convenient. Courses can be developed from home on any computer
with an Internet connection. Students can upload their papers to instructors from home or their
residence hall room.

CourseWeb can be a useful tool for collecting and assessing student work outside the classroom,
as it includes features for assigning, collecting and grading assignments online, including
plagiarism detection capabilities. Assignments may be assigned to individuals or groups using a
variety of collaborative tools, including wikis, blogs, journals and discussion board forums.

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How Do I Log Into Blackboard?

1. Begin by opening up a web browser. We suggest using the latest version of Firefox.
2. Place your cursor in the address bar and type: http://courseweb.pitt.edu and log in with your PITT Username and Password.  If you do not know your username or password, please contact the HELP desk at 412-624-HELP (4357).

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Design Your Course

A well designed course in CourseWeb includes:

  • A structure that is easy to understand and navigate
  • Clearly stated learning objectives, required skills and expectations
  • Instructional materials, assignments and assessments that reinforce mastery of the learning objectives
  • Learning activities that engage students and motivate them to participate
  • Instructions and low-stakes “practice” applications of instructional technologies as preparation for higher-stakes applications of these instructional technologies

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The Announcement Page

The Announcements page is the landing page for your course. It is what your students initially
see when they enter your course. It’s a great place to tell your students when circumstances
dictate changes to your course on short notice. Examples may include weather or event-related
notices, changes in class location, changes to assignments, etc.

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Faculty Information

Faculty Information is a place where you can provide contact information for yourself and your
teaching assistants. You can provide a photograph, web link and short biographical sketch, too.

  • Under the Course Menu, click on Faculty Information.
  • Click on the downward arrow icon Action Item Button next to the contact you wish to edit and choose Edit from the drop-down menu.
  • Fill out the Profile Information including the Contact Name, Email, Phone, Location, Office Hours and Notes.
  • Under Options, choose Yes to: “Make the Profile Available”. In addition, you may attach an image of yourself by pressing Browse to find the image on your computer or flash drive. A personal link to your webpage may also become available to your students by copying and pasting the link into the Personal Link field.
  • Click the Submit button once you are finished.

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Including a Syllabus

The basic course template includes a syllabus checklist and syllabus template that you may use
as a guide for creating your own syllabus. Most schools require you to submit your syllabus as
an electronic document (Word or .pdf). Our recommendation is to create a syllabus document
and attach it to your course under this menu item. The following items are already included in
CourseWeb with the sample syllabus:

  • Academic integrity policy statement and resource link
  • Disability services statement and resource link
  • Copyright notice and resource links
  • Accessibility standards statement
  • Classroom recording statement

Your students will be able to see these items, unless you delete them. Your syllabus is often seen as a contract between you and your students. Students should be able to look at your course syllabus for answers to questions they may have throughout the term.

Your students should be able to preview the course structure, subject matter, skills and expectations just from the elements of the syllabus, itself.  As the instructor you should be aware that your syllabus represents you and may say much more than you might think. Attention to detail is very important.

Here’s how to add your syllabus (or any other document) to your course:

  1. Click on the name of the content area into which you want to add files. NOTE: There is already a Syllabus button on your course menu provided.
  2. Once inside the content area, notice the Action Bar along the top.
  3. Click on the downward arrow icon next to the Build Content button . This opens your options for adding content.
  4. Select Item from the drop-down menu.
  5. In Content Information on the Create Item screen, type a name for the item in the Name field and add any desired text.
  6. In Attachments, select Browse My Computer to locate your syllabus file on your local
    computer or flash drive.
  7. Click on your file name and select open.
  8. Click the Submit button.
  9. Your syllabus file will appear under the Syllabus Content Area

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Adding Your Content into Blackboard

Here are some helpful hints to guide you when building your course in CourseWeb:

  • Plan the organization of your course in advance of building it in CourseWeb. Knowing how you want to present your material to students ahead of time will save you the work of reorganizing files you have posted to CourseWeb. Group your course materials into folders and group those folders into content areas.
  • DO NOT compose lengthy course materials in CourseWeb text boxes. You should compose your materials in another application and attach the file. As a matter of good computer practice, it is wise to maintain a copy of material posted in CourseWeb saved to your local computer or backed up on disk or flash drive.
  • Your course is not visible to students by default. You will always be able to see your course materials, but you must take steps to make it available to students. If you have not yet made your course available to students you will see (unavailable) listed beside it in your course listings.

For more information on how to add content into your course, please use the following link:

http://www.etskb-fac.cidde.pitt.edu/faq/how-do-i-add-contentcourse-materials-into-a-content-area/

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Setting up the Grade Center

The CourseWeb Grade Center is the first place your students will look for their grades in your course. If they don’t find it there, they will try to contact you directly with e-mail messages,
phone calls and perhaps even text messages. You may avoid a lot of these interruptions if you post their grades in your course’s Grade Center. Placing a link to My Grades (the student view of the Grade Center) in the menu of your course will give your students a reason to visit your course more often. Once you have your course materials, a syllabus and a schedule in place for your course, the next logical step is to set up your grade center with each of the items you intend to measure your students’ performance with. You may even set up weighted grade calculations so your students have an estimate of their course grade as the term progresses.

For more information on the Grade Center, please click on the following link:

http://www.etskb-fac.cidde.pitt.edu/?s=Grade+Center

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Making Your Course Available to Students

By design, courses are initially created in a state unavailable to the students who are enrolled in them. This way, you may make any changes that are necessary before “turning it on” for your students.

When you are ready to make your course available, please follow the link to the step by step tutorial:

http://www.etskb-fac.cidde.pitt.edu/blackboard/making-your-course-available/

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Contact for Blackboard Assistance

At CIDDE, the Educational Technology Services team oversees the administration of CourseWeb (the University’s course management system), the operations of the Educational Technology Center (ETC) and the administration of technology training programs for faculty and staff. Our team partners with faculty to facilitate and enhance teaching and learning through the appropriate integration of technology. ETS provides individual and departmental consulting and training opportunities for faculty and staff.
Location: Alumni Hall, Room B23
Business Hours: 8:30-5:00 Monday-Friday
Contact Information: 412-648-2832 / etc@cidde.pitt.edu

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(2) Comments

  1. Hello,
    I am having my students use the Safe Assign draft function for my ENGCMP 0020 course, and I have set the function so as to make the Safe Assign originality reports student-viewable. Yet I am told by the students that they do not see any way to access the reports. Can you let me know what they should do to get their reports?

    Thanks,
    Martha Koehler

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