The Blackboard User Interface
The default landing page for all courses is the Announcements page. There are several important areas to note, labeled below:
- Page Header
This area shows the My Blackboard menu a link back to your My CourseWeb main page, as well as a log-off button .
More information: A Primer on My Blackboard
- Viewing Tools
This area contains a couple of very useful tools for Instructors and other course builders. Clicking the Student Preview icon will enter Student Preview mode, allowing you to get a view of what student users see (this icon only appears if your course is available to students). The Change Course Theme button gives you quick access to a menu of different color pallets that you may use to customize the look of your course. Edit Mode toggles “on” or “off”–when it is “on” you may make changes to your course, but when it is “off” no changes can be made. Turning Edit Mode to “off” can also give you a quick approximation of what students are likely to see when visiting your course. For a more complete view of what student users will see, use the Student Preview feature instead.
More information: Student Preview
- Navigation Tools
This area can help you move within a single course, or between courses. Clicking the down-arrow next to the Home icon opens a menu that displays your other courses, or courses you have recently visited. Next to that is a ‘breadcrumb trail’ that will display exactly where in your course you are currently. In this example the user is working inside the Week 1 Folder, which itself is located within the Course Documents content area. To return to the Course Documents area, the user could simply click on “Course Documents” in the breadcrumb trail. This is a useful feature for courses that contain many folders and sub-folders.
- Course Menu Tool Bar
This area contains a few useful tools for managing your Course Menu and structure of your course. Placing your mouse over the plus sign icon opens the Add Menu Item menu, which allows you to add links and content to your Course Menu. Clicking the folder icon displays a pop-up window in which your entire course is represented as a file tree. This can be useful for getting a big picture view of how your course is structured, especially if you have a lot of different content areas and sub-folders. The refresh button does a refresh on whatever page you are currently working. (Doing a full browser refresh will automatically take you back to the Announcements page of your course, but using this internal refresh button will keep you on the same page after refresh.)
More information: How do I add a content area to my course menu?
- Course Menu
The Course Menu appears on the left side of your course window. It is the cornerstone for the organization and navigation of your course. You can create links on the course menu to present tools and materials to users, customize its appearance and rename or re-order the links. New links can be added to the Course Menu by using the Add Menu Item menu discussed above.
- Course Management Area
The Course Management area appears in the bottom left corner of every Blackboard course and will predominantly consist of your course Control Panel. Each item in the Control Panel consists of an arrow tab on the left, which will expand and contract in an accordion fashion when clicked. When the arrow points to the right, the menu item is closed, and when it points down, it is open and displays its contents below.
More information: Course Management Menus
- Action Bar
The contents of this area will change depending on where you are in your course and what you are doing, but it will always contain buttons that either open important menus or execute important actions. Buttons in the Action Bar that show a downward-facing arrow indicate that mousing over this button will open a menu with several options that you may click on and choose. Buttons with no arrow indicate that clicking the button will execute the labeled action immediately.
- Content Frame
This area is where all of your content, tools, and materials will appear.
Blackboard Icons and Symbols
Executing tasks and actions within the Blackboard user environment often relies on opening menus in order to select desired choices. These menus are typically indicated by the presence of a downward-facing arrow of some sort.
Often, icons that indicate that a menu is present can only be seen when the user mouses over a particular area. For example, in the Course Menu, you will initially see no icons indicating the presence of menus:
But, place your mouse over one of those menu items, and a downward-facing arrow will appear:
Now you may click this menu icon to open the appropriate menu:
Drag and Drop
While Blackboard does not allow for users to drag items off their computer desktop and into Blackboard, it does have some capability for users to re-position certain links or content items using a drag-and-drop interface.
When you add a new item to a content area, or a new link to the Course Menu, the new item always appears below the existing items. Users can move these items to another position in the Course Menu or content area by placing their mouse over the item that is to be moved, such that a yellow striped bar with a double-headed arrow icons appears on the left:
Placing the mouse over that yellow striped bar will turn the mouse pointer into a four-way arrow, which indicates that the item can now be “picked up” and dragged to another location within the content frame:
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