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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.
Besides letting you set tool availability, under Course Management > Customization, you can also control how students can enroll in your course, choose if guests or observers can access your course, modify your course properties, including the availability and language, and even modify your course's style, including the course entry point in the entry point's banner. Let's look at each of these one by one. I want you to notice that here on the menu, I have got a button with two downward-facing chevrons. In Blackboard that always means more or edit. If I click on it, yup it's more.
But notice to the right, I have got these two Greater Than signs. And if I click on that, what it does is it takes all of these links that show here beneath Customization, it kind of opens them up on the right and makes it a little easier to see. That's kind of nice. So I am going to click on Enrollment Options. Now, don't be surprised if this doesn't appear on your version of Blackboard, and don't be surprised if you can't change anything on your version of Blackboard. That's actually pretty customary. It turns out that your Blackboard very likely is going to be centrally administered and supported, and it's going to be using some sort of automated course and user provisioning system that's tied to your student information system.
What that means is when a course is created at your institution, a course is automatically created in Blackboard. You don't have to do anything. When a user enrolls in the course in the student information system, that user is automatically enrolled in the course in Blackboard. There's nothing for you to do. That's actually the first setting here, Instructor/System Administrator. That's just basically saying, you know, the system administrator is going to take care of it. The instructor may be able to handle adding one or two students here and there, but let's keep this automated. Some institutions do allow you to have the students contact you and say, can I enroll in the course? Very few do, though, so don't be surprised if this is not available.
Self-enrollment is an option that allows students to enroll in the course. They would actually go into a course catalogue and find it. And then you can choose a start date and end date and even creating an access code that the students would need to enter to enroll in the course. Don't be surprised if all of these features don't work on your system. That's just because your system is more tightly integrated in a student information System than you had imagined. Check with your help desk to see what your institution's enrollment practices are. Now, let's talk about Guest and Observer Access and tell you why Guest and Observer Access isn't what you think it is.
A guest is someone who is not directly participating in the course. Unfortunately, on Blackboard there's no such thing as a guest student or guest instructor. For a guest student to be able to get into Blackboard and be able to do what a student can do, they have to be a student. For a guest instructor to get into Blackboard and do what an instructor can do, they need to be an instructor. So my recommendation is, before you change any of these, check with your help desk to see what your institution's practices are for having guests in your course. There might be some process that allow somebody to become a real guest student.
Guest is just someone who comes in the course and can only see a few things and not really interact with those things. Observers have even fewer options. Observers are someone who follows a specific user in a Blackboard course without actually interacting with Blackboard. Observers observe a student, not a course. Again, check with your helpdesk. They might be able to tell you how you can get guests in your course. Guest and Observer Access is just not the place to do it. The next thing I want to talk about is Properties.
Now, I've got to be honest. Many of these things in Properties are also going to be disabled. You might see it. But most institutions are not going to allow you to change your course name. They're not going to allow you to reclassify your course. However, they will let you make your course available or not available. Right now, this course is available to students, but if I click on No and then scroll down and click on Submit, I want you to see what happens. I am going to go back to My Institution homepage, and you are going to see that my course is unavailable. Unavailable doesn't mean that I can't get into it.
It doesn't mean that the course doesn't exist; it exists. It's just not available to students. Now, a lot of instructors choose to hide Blackboard courses from the students until the instructor is ready to make the course available. This gives you the time to prep the course in private, and some institutions also hide courses from their students after the end of an academic term, or year. So, to make a course available, once it is unavailable, scroll down. I am going to click on the Customization, go over to the right, click on Properties, and then I can make the course available here.
Setting the Duration usually is done automatically by your system. Same with categorizing courses. The last thing on this actually is kind of cool, is a Language Pack. Now, depending on what your system administrator has done, there may be different languages that are built into Blackboard, and you can actually change Blackboard so that it displays its interface within your course in that language instead of the default system language, which is usually English. So you could, if the language pack exists on the system, change your course so that all the menus and all the instructions are in Japanese, or in Korean, or in French, absolutely easy to do.
The big thing to remember is that if you go in and add content, your content is not going to be translated. This only is going to translate the interface, not the content that you have created. I am not going to worry about course files. I am just going to click on Submit. So, that's Properties. So, we have done Enrollment Options. We've done Guest and Observer Access. We've done Properties. Let's talk really quickly about Style. The big thing on the Style is the Style lets you play around with the Course menu. You can change it from being displayed as text, which is sort of a preview right here, or I can have a display as buttons.
There is a button library here. I can choose different buttons and I want to put onto the page. I can, if I want to keep this as Text, change the Background Color and the Text Color. We are not just changing it for me here, I am changing it for all students in the course. When the students get into the Course menu, the Course menu by default is going to show it's a list view--that's the view that we see here--but I could make it so that it's going to be a folder view as a default view, and I can allow or not allow both views. I usually leave this one alone. The Default Content View, when I get into a content area, do I want to have a little icon on the left side of each item, or do I just want to have text only? That's completely up to you.
You can set this now if you want. The Course Entry Point is the first page that students see when they enter your course. So let me give you an example. We've got the Course Entry Point here set as the Home Page. If I go back now to the homepage of the course, the course entry point, you are going to notice that it's this homepage with all these modules. I can, if I want to, change that to some other page. So, the first page that students see when they get into my course is not going to be the homepage. In fact, let me do something. We are going to go create a new Tool link.
I am going to call it Announcements. I am going to make it available to users. Click on Submit. I have now created a new Announcements page. It actually is the Announcements tool. You can drag this now up. It could be anywhere on the Course menu. Let's go back now to Customization because I want to show you how you can change the course entry point. I am going to click on Style, I am going to scroll down, and it's going to say, okay, what is the entry point for your course? And I can actually now make it Announcements. So my recommendation is, if you want to change your course entry point, before you go and delete the homepage, create a new entry point, be it Announcements, be it some sort of tool, don't point to the grayed center, don't point to some external web site because you don't know if that web site is going to be up and running.
It's got to be something within Blackboard that exists already. Announcements is a pretty good alternative. Most instructors choose either Home Page or Announcements. Last thing you can do here is you can actually go and add a banner. In fact, I've got a banner in the exercise files. I am going to browse My Computer and up on the Desktop, in the exercise files, I have got a banner image, and that banner image is going to show up at the top of the course entry point. I am going to click on Submit. It's going to upload those files. And let me show you, if now go to my course homepage, it's no longer the course homepage.
My course homepage is this page with a banner that I just added to my web site. Let me show it to you again. We get into the course through My Courses and instead of landing on the Home tab, which is still there on the Home Page, it opens up to Announcements. If I ever want to change that back, in fact, I'm going to right now, go to Customization, click on Style, scroll down and choose Home Page, and then click on Submit. So, besides letting you set tool availability, under Course Management > Customization, you can control how students can enroll in your course, you can choose if students or observers can access your course, you can modify your course properties, including the availability and language, and you can modify your course style, including the course entry point and the entry point's banner.
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