Setting Up a New Course in Blackboard

The articles linked in this Roadmap will get you up and running with a new Blackboard course, whether it’s your first time, or you just need a refresher. Each section contains links to articles and documentation to help you through the steps of building a basic course in Blackboard, from start to finish.


1. Introducing Blackboard
2. Adding Content
3. Assessing Your Students
4. Managing Course Users
5. Final Steps
6. Next Steps
7. Get Help

1. Introducing Blackboard

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

Because Blackboard is available to instructors, staff, and students 24 hours a day, from any location with an internet connection, it allows students to locate important course information and complete their coursework when and where it is most convenient, and instructors to develop and manage their courses from home or while traveling.

If you are new to Blackboard, these articles will introduce you to what Blackboard is, how it functions, and some important policies for using Blackboard here at Pitt.

  • Introduction to Blackboard: This short interactive module covers the most frequently asked questions about basic functionality, policies, and technical considerations for using Blackboard at Pitt.
  • Logging In and My CourseWeb: How to find your courses and navigate Blackboard’s front page.
  • The Blackboard Course Environment: Understanding the user interface of your Blackboard course.
  • Course Merge: If you teach multiple sections of the same course, you might want to consider merging these sections into one course shell.

2. Adding Content

The heart of your Blackboard course is the content that you provide. A well designed course in Blackboard has a predictable, understandable structure to its content, and has materials that are accessible to students with disabilities. These articles will help you add and manage course content.

  • Course Copy: If you would like to copy the content of an old course into a new course shell, this article will walk you through this quick and easy process.
  • Course Design Best Practices: A downloadable checklist and series of short videos about how to make your Blackboard course user-friendly for students of all abilities, and for yourself!
  • Creating and Managing Content: Uploading, moving and deleting a variety of different types of content and folders.
  • Adding links to the Course Menu: Creating a customized course menu that suits the unique needs of your course.
  • Announcements: The default landing page in every Blackboard course is the Announcements page. When you make an announcement in Blackboard, it will be visible to all students entering your course.
  • Accessibility Guidelines: Making sure that all of your content is accessible to all students.

3. Assessing Your Students

Blackboard 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.

  • Using the Assignment Tool: Creating, viewing and scoring electronically-submitted assignments.
  • Inline Grading for Assignments: Placing annotations, notes, and detailed feedback directly on electronically-submitted assignments for students to view.
  • Giving Tests in Blackboard: FAQs and Best Practices: Giving tests and quizzes online via Blackboard can be convenient for both you and your students, but there are several things you should know before you deploy your tests, so that your assessments run smoothly from start to finish. If you’re unsure whether or not to try giving tests in Blackboard, these Frequently Asked Questions can help you decide whether this tool will meet your needs.
  • Tests in Blackboard: Creating and deploying electronically-delivered tests and quizzes in your Blackboard course.
  • Grading Tests in Blackboard: Viewing and scoring tests delivered in Blackboard.
  • Grade Center Overview: Understanding how the Grade Center functions and how assignment and test grades are displayed.

4. Managing Course Users

Students, Co-Instructors, and Teaching Assistants are all users in your course. As the Instructor, you can view, manage, enroll or unenroll users in various ways.

5. Final Steps

6. Next Steps

Blackboard has many more advanced functions, such as collaborative tools, ways of controlling how and when students access to specific content, grouping of students for projects and assignments, and tools to help you track and analyze student progress. You may be interested in the following Roadmaps and articles related to these tools and processes:

  • Communication and Collaboration Tools: What’s the difference between a Blog and a Journal? How can you give students a platform for open discussion and debate? Blackboard contains several tools to facilitate communication and collaboration between peers and instructors. Pick the right tool for your course’s needs and learn how to set it up in this Roadmap.
  • Grade Center Road Map: The articles linked in this Roadmap will get you started working in the Blackboard Grade Center, whether you’re setting up your first course, or if you just need a refresher.
  • Getting the Most out of Panopto: Panopto is the University’s video recording, hosting and streaming platform. Panopto integrates directly with Blackboard and can offer you an easy way of creating instructional videos that can be viewed only by your students.

7. Get Help

  • The CSSD Help Desk is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week, 365 days each year at 412-624-HELP (4357). They are able to solve many common Blackboard issues.
  • The LMS Support and Consulting team oversees the administration of Blackboard, and 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. We provide 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 /

(2) Comments

  1. Hi. I was trying to grade my students but I cannot because the screen reader is activated. Can you help me to turn off the screen reader mode in order to grade?
    Thank you.

    • Professor Lopez,

      Click the dropdown menu next to the page heading (where it says ‘Full Grade Center’ at the top of the page) and select “Turn Screen Reader Mode off”.


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