Blackboard for Faculty
This introductory course will walk you through all of the basics of using Blackboard as an instructor. You can view the entire series, or if you need a refresher on a certain topic, scroll through the playlist on the right.
Hi, Welcome to the Intro to Blackboard Series for Instructors.
Blackboard is a Learning Management System, and Brandman uses it to facilitate the online
learning activities for both our online and blended courses.
To access Blackboard go to Brandman.Blackboard.com and log in using your Brandman username and
We recommend bookmarking this website and creating a shortcut so you can more readily
access your courses in the future.
In this series, we will cover all of the essential topics ranging from Accessing and Navigating
your Course, to editing content and customizing the Grade Center.
When viewed sequentially these videos serve as an introductory Blackboard training that
we recommend all instructors complete prior to teaching their first course.
However, feel free to come back and view individual videos should you have specific questions
about Blackboard later on.
Let’s get started!
Once you log in to Blackboard, you will land on the dashboard.
The dashboard is a launching pad made up of customizable modules that provide easy access
to your courses and other helpful information and tools.
Under the Brandman University tab there are two main modules to be aware of:
My Announcements will display the most recent announcements posted by you in your courses.
And, My Courses.
This module will display every course you have been given access to.
These courses are sorted alphabetically and then grouped by those you enrolled in as an
instructor, teaching assistant and/or student.
This module can get pretty full depending on how many courses you’ve been enrolled
You can customize and manage which courses and what course information is displayed by
clicking the ‘S’ icon in the upper right-hand corner of the module.
We will go over more on the My Courses module, including when courses become available, in
a later video.
The modules can be moved by clicking the top and dragging to the desired area of the dashboard.
You can also minimize a module by clicking the arrow that appears just to the left of
the module title.
You will be visiting this page often so consider making it your own.
You can add modules by clicking the Add Module option in the upper left corner of the screen.
You can also change the color theme by selecting Personalize Page, located in the upper right-hand
corner of the screen.
As a helpful tip, consider customizing the My Courses module to display only your current
Course Links and use the Course List module to display more detailed information about
all of your courses.
If you have been granted access to your course, you will see a link to that course in the
My Courses module on the Blackboard dashboard, or from your Courses List under the courses
Typically, you will gain access to your course two weeks prior to the start of the session.
During those two weeks, you may notice that it says “not currently available” next
to the course link.
This means that the course is not currently available to students.
Courses are made available to student’s the Friday before the start of the session.
This gives you approximately two weeks to familiarize yourself with the course content,
make any necessary adjustments and make sure that everything is working properly before
students have access.
Click the course link to navigate to your course.
In this video, we will walk through what a typical course looks like and provide a brief
explanation of what everything is.
Each video following this one will cover the functionality of each section in greater detail.
First, we have Edit Mode in the top right corner of the course.
When edit mode is off, you will see things from a student perspective and you are not
able to make changes in any of the content areas.
In order to make changes within your course, always make sure that edit mode is on.
Toggling edit mode is as simple as clicking on or off.
Opposite Edit Mode is the Course Home link and the Course-to-Course Navigation menu.
Clicking the title of the course in the upper left corner of the screen will always take
you back to the Course Entry page.
Generally, this is always the announcements page.
The small grey circle with a down arrow, known as the contextual menu, always indicates there
is a drop-down menu that provides additional options.
In the case of the contextual menu next to the home link, we have the Course-to-Course
This menu lists your most recently visited courses as well as your other courses.
However, selecting a course from this menu will take you to the same location you are
currently in, but in a different course.
For example, if I’m looking at the Grade Center in one course and want to see what
the Grade Center looks like in the other course I’m teaching, all I have to do is select
that course from this menu and I’ll be taken there.
The section below the Home link is called the Course Menu.
Note that the course menu may vary slightly from course to course.
For this video, I’ll be going over the course menu structure that is typically seen in most
The Course Menu begins with the Start Here and Course Information buttons.
They contain resources and materials specific to the university and course.
Next, we have the links to each week of the course session that contains each week’s
Brandman courses are divided over eight weeks.
Each week contains learning objectives, materials, and activities specific to that week.
The weekly content areas are also where students access and submit all of their assignments.
After the weekly content areas, you will see the Discussion Board button.
Tools will take you to a number of learning tools that are available to you.
This page is really where your students access course tools such as the Send Email feature,
to communicate with you and their classmates.
Announcements will take you back to the Announcements page.
The My Grades link is for your student’s to view their grades.
You will not be able to view grades as an instructor through this link.
Instead you will use the Grade Center, which will be addressed in a separate video.
The Library link is available for you and your students to navigate to Chapman University’s
Leatherby Libraries for any academic resources you might need.
And lastly, the Help button takes you to the Brandman Tech Support page, should you or
a student require any assistance during your course.
Below the Course Menu is the Course Management Panel.
This is only available to you, the instructor, and will remain regardless of whether edit
mode is on or off.
Course Management contains the Control Panel.
Be sure to check out our other videos on Course Tools, Evaluation and the Grade Center.
This main section to the right is called a content area.
The sections on the top and to the left are generally for navigating the course.
The content area is what you and the students will interact with most.
Above the content area is the Action Bar.
The Action Bar contains menus for adding content and to offer additional options in other areas
of the course.
Make note of how it changes as you navigate through the course.
If you do not see the Action Bar it’s most likely because your edit mode is off so always
make sure that you’ve turned it on when you enter the course.
Before moving on to editing content, take some time to familiarize yourself with each
of these sections.
Your course is predominantly made up of Content Areas. Things like Start Here, Course Information and the weeks are all individual Content Areas, accessible through the course menu. Content Areas hold Content Folders, Items, and other types of course content.
A content folder is used to group content together to create a special area for certain course material. For example, the Instructor Resources folder in Course Information or an Assignments folder in a Weekly content area.
An item is an individual section of text, links or embedded media.
This process will look slightly different depending on what browser you use, and whether you’re using a mac or a pc. For this tutorial, I’ll show you the basics of downloading and uploading using Google Chrome, on a Mac.
If the process on your computer is different than we present here, and you still need help, contact your AT.
In this video, I’ll primarily cover how to add Items, Folders, and Web Links. I will also briefly touch on adding Assignments and Tests from the Assessments menu. For more detailed information on setting up assignments and tests, view the videos later on in this series.
The first tool we’ll cover is Announcements. With announcements, you can post timely information critical to course success. This is especially useful since the Announcements page is set as the default landing page for your course, so it’s the first thing students see when they access their courses.
Discussions can serve a range of purposes:
An online meeting place for social interaction among peers. An additional medium for collaboration and the exchange of ideas. A medium to pose questions about homework assignments, readings, and course content. A record of discussion that members can review at a later point. And a graded activity that demonstrates understanding or application of course material.
This is the first of two videos on the Discussion Board and we’ll focus on how to actively participate in the forums and threads. The next video will cover all of the ins and outs of grading discussions in your course.
Most likely the developer of your course has already outlined how the discussions should be graded in your course. Reach out to the course contact if you have any questions.
You can assign discussion grades in a forum or thread. These grades are based on student participation, on the quality of their posts, or a combination of the two. Note that there may be a rubric attached to your Discussion Board where you can easily select specific criteria and apply it to the grade.
You can grade student contributions to a wiki or use it solely for course content review. In either instance, a student can contribute multiple pages to a single wiki and make unlimited revisions to pages submitted by any course member. You can also enable the group wiki tool to help groups share and interact.
You can view all changes to all pages in a wiki. You can view the changes at a high level, and you can drill down to see information about contributions by any individual.
Only enrolled users can view blogs in your course. Similar to journals, you can use blogs for a graded assignment or gather opinions and information without assigning a grade. However, remember that journals are intended to be a private form of communication.
In the educational environment, journals need to be more than just a list of what a student did. The writing experience is used to communicate the thinking process: the how and why for each activity and thoughts about the activity at its conclusion.
Each journal created in a course represents a single topic. Journal assignments typically come in two forms: As a single course Journal, where students receive one grade for multiple entries over the span of an entire course, or multiple journals placed in different weeks, each with their own topic and a grade for each of those topics.
For example, you can sort and filter the list, allowing you to grade the most urgent items first.
In the Grade Center, you can provide and manage your students' grades for assignments, tests, discussion posts, journals, blogs, and wikis, and for ungraded items, such as surveys or self-tests. You can also create grade columns for any activities or requirements you want to grade, such as special projects, participation, or attendance.
In the event that a student mistakenly submits the wrong document or you’ve asked the student to submit the paper again in a different format, the first attempt must be cleared, ignored, or an additional attempt should be given.
LiveText by Watermark is used in the School of Education and Nursing primarily for signature assignments. It is also used for professional dispositions inventory, fieldwork formative and summative assessments and course portfolios.
LiveText allows the university to assess our students based on our program learning outcomes. This is used for WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) accreditation, NCATE, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and CCNE, so we need to have this data readily available in order to demonstrate we are meeting our student learning outcomes.
For this reason it is vital these signature assignments are completed properly so we can adhere to accreditation standards.
As a best practice to promote academic integrity, all Signature Assignments for the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Business and Professional Studies are submitted as Turnitin assignments. Turnitin provides Brandman the ability to collect learning outcomes data to improve student learning and educational effectiveness.
Once a Signature Assignment is submitted to turnitin.com, an originality report will be generated, which provides a summary of matching or highly similar text found in a submitted paper.
Creating and associating rubrics save you valuable time during the grading process.
Remember, any major changes to course content need to be approved by your course contact. Also, make sure you reach out to your schools’ designated AT if you have any questions on editing test options.
By and large, most tests that you’ll encounter in your course will automatically be graded for you. Any test that solely consists of questions where the correct answer is already given at the time the test was created (such as multiple choice or true/false questions) will be automatically graded once the students submit the test.
However, if the test has essay or short answer questions, the test will appear as needs grading and you, the instructor, must evaluate and provide a score for those questions.