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In this course, Patrick Crispen teaches the ins and outs of Blackboard 9 so that educators and trainers can get up to speed in the system quickly—even if they've never used Blackboard before. The course explores customizing a course site, managing users, and adding and organizing content, including multimedia. It also shows how to perform student assessments in the Grade Center, as well as how to communicate with students and encourage participation and collaboration.
As I mentioned in the last movie, this is your Course menu. You can customize this thing to your heart's content. You may actually from time to time want to add new items. For example, in the last movie I renamed Information as Syllabus, and then I deleted it. Let's add Information back to our Course menu. So to add a new Content menu item, make sure Edit Mode is clicked on. Remember, if Edit Node is off, you are in Student Node, and just as students can't make changes to your course, when Edit mode is off, you are locked out. But if Edit mode is on, you can proceed.
Make sure also that you are in the list view here in the menu-- you can do that with the first button-- and click or hover your mouse over this Plus sign in the top left-hand corner of the Course menu. You're going to see that you have several options. First one is to create a content area. This is a top-level folder that contains all of your course materials. You can have multiple content areas. In fact, I've seen people create course content areas based on content type like handouts, readings, assignments.
I have seen people create content areas by subject, behavioral theories, developmental theories, cognitive theories. Just to remember, these content areas are top-level folders, the sort of highest- level folders you've got. It's a way for you to organize your course content, give you easy navigation to that content. Less content areas is actually good idea. You can add folders within a content area to add future structure, and we'll talk more about that later. Also, note that you can create a new content area today, now, or pretty much any other menu item, and hide it from your students until you're ready to show it.
In this case, let's create a new content area. It's going to ask me for the name. We will create a name of Information. And do I want this to be visible to the students yet? Yeah, sure. I am going to click on Submit. When I click on Submit, it goes and adds it to the bottom of the Course menu. I can then click on the up and down arrows to the left of that item and drag it to wherever I want to put it. And that's how to add a new content area, a new content folder. I now have an Information content folder in which I can start building content.
That goes along with the content folder that was already there. I also have the ability, if I want to, to go and add additional things to my Course menu. I can add a blank page. Now a blank page is a single file so important that you need it to appear not in a content area but as a clickable link on the Course menu. That might be your syllabus or the honor code or something like that. A tool link is a link to a course tool, like the announcements page, the discussion board, the course calendar.
If you're going to be sending your students lots of email, let me give you a tip. I would add a link to the Email tool and hide it. It's going to be available to you but not to your students, and it's going to save you several clicks. Let me show you that. I will click on the Tool Link. Now, I am just going to call this Email, and I am going to choose Email. And I am not going to make this available to my users. It is going to be available to me. So, now any time I log in to my course, there at the bottom of my Course menu is a link to the Email tool. It's going to save me a couple of clicks.
I also have the ability here to add a course link. A course link is a shortcut to an existing item, area, or tool within your course. So if I want a link to a folder in a content area and I kind of want to make that now a top-level folder, I can link to that. An external link is a link to, well, an external web site. What you are going to do here is you type in whatever the address is, probably cut and paste it would be a better idea. But I am going to do lynda.com, type http://, and I am going to see, do I want my users to be able to click on this link today? I click on Submit and say Yes.
I really strongly recommend that your Course menu have at least one customizable external link. In fact, one of the things that I do in my course web sites is I have a link to the institution's honor code. This is an idea that I got from the University of Texas. This is a great way for me to ask my students, when they contact me and say, "I can't get into any content in the course," it's usually because they have hidden the Course menu. I can say, okay, over on the left- hand side of the page, do you see a link to lynda.com, or in this case, do you see a link to the honor code of the university? When the students say, no, I say okay, you've hidden the Course menu. Click on the Greater Than sign and that actually gets it back.
So it's a good troubleshooting tip there. I have the ability also, besides creating an external link, I can create a module page. Module page is really just a page that has a whole bunch of modules. In fact, your Course homepage is a module page. When you create a new module page though, you are creating a blank page. You'll need to add the modules one by one, and now you can see why I told you not to delete your Course homepage menu quite yet. A subheader is really just text. It's not clickable, but it's helpful information.
So, I can say, "Nice web site." And it's basically just a little subheader there under lynda.com that shows the students what it is. A much easier way I've seen a lot of other people do this instead is instead of having that little sort of subheader is they create dividers. A divider is a horizontal line that could be added to group your menu items. So I might want to add this horizontal rule, and I am going to have a horizontal rule here for Tools, Help, Email.
So, I am separating my content from my help and other tools available, so that's just a divider. Remember, each time you add a menu item, it appears at the bottom of the Course menu, drag it to where you want to put it. In the next movie, we will talk about customizing the tools that are available to your students.
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