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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.
When you access a new Blackboard course, your course menu uses a structure that was set by either your institution or your department. At many institutions, you're completely free to edit your course menu. It's your course. You can move the items up and down the course menu, you can go and rename it, hide it, delete it, you can even add new items to your course menu. Blackboard 9.1 Service Pack 8 and later introduces an extremely powerful new feature called Course Structures which are predefined sets of course menu links, instructions and if you choose, even fake content examples to help you setup your course. Let me show you what I mean.
I have a course here with the default course menu, and if I scroll down and go to Customization, and then click on Teaching Style. This replaces actually the old customization style page, and before we get to the course structure, let me scroll down and show you what else is available here. You can set the Course Entry Point, the first page the people see when they get into your course. You can select the course theme. This is the second way to get to this feature. There's one more way we'll talk about in a minute.
You can also go and select the menu style, choose whether it going to be text or buttons. Remember all the dozens of hours you spent choosing the right menu button and background in previous versions of blackboard? That's still available. One word of warning. There is a known bug in Service Pack 9 where choosing to display buttons instead of text may cause the text to run off the page, so for now just leave it as text. For the Course Menu Display, it's really just saying do you want to have List View, Folder View, I usually just leave this alone.
Default Content View, in your course's content area you can choose if each content item should display an Icon Only, Text Only, or an Icon and Text. I usually just leave this alone and you can also upload a banner that's going to appear on the course entry page, but we're here to talk about these course structures. In Blackboard 9.1 Service Pack 8 and later there are 32 different built-in course structures you can choose from, divided into five categories. You can do it by activity, you can do it by communication, content, systems or even time. Let me scroll back up here.
Before you apply any of these structures, I want you to read the second sentence very carefully. The selected course structures content is added to your course and does not replace existing menu items and content. What does this mean? Well, if you apply a new course structure, Blackboard is going to take your existing course menu items; your menus, your files, your attachments, everything, push them to the bottom of your course menu and then add new items to the top of your course menu.
Blackboard is not going to copy any of your existing content into your new menu structure ever. You're going to have to do that by hand, and you're also going to have to manually edit or delete the course structure content you don't want. Because of this, before you even think about applying a new course structure to your course, make sure you are 100% certain you know how to manually edit or fix your course menu, because there is going to be a lot of cleanup work. Since we actually know how to clean up the course menu and we know that there's going to be some cleanup, let's actually just go here and click on Case Study.
I'm going to clean on Use This Structure, and there is check box here which gives me the option of including content examples. I'm going to choose that as well, and then scroll either to the top or the bottom of the page and click on Submit. Now it's going to say you've chosen to add a course structure to your course, do you want to continue? Well yep. This may take a few minutes to process to put all the files in a place, but notice that our course menu is now completely different, and all of our old course menu items are down here at the bottom of the page.
New course menus are actually at the top. Let me get in here to Course Overview, and since we chose to use content examples, notice that these items on our course menu have sample content in them from a fake course on oceanography. This content by the way is not visible to students. It's kind of a placeholder for you where you can then go in and edit this content and fill in what you want to put. I've applied a course structure and it turns out I don't really like this course structure.
I want to go back. Let me scroll down here and I'm going go back to Teaching Style and let's go and just use the Existing Menu, so click on Submit and nothing has changed. Well it turns out you can't undo course structures, and if I go back here to course structures and I go and add yet another course structure, Teaching Style, Expedition Based, and click on Submit, it's taken my original course menu items, pushed them down, added new items, and I have now made a really complex and confusing course menu.
Can you see now why I said the course structures is an extremely powerful new feature? You can do just some really great things with your course, but you can also make a huge mess if you aren't careful, a mess that would be really confusing for your students and may actually take a while for you to clean up. In fact, because of this, don't be surprised if your institution has turned Teaching Style and Course Structure off. Let me scroll down and close this, and let me show you one other thing. There is something called the Quick Setup Guide; this is another new tool in Blackboard Service Pack 8 and 9, that kind of rolls up a lot of Blackboard's customization tools and don't be surprised if your institution has turned this feature off as well.
The Quick Setup Guide lets you change your course name and description. A lot of institutions disable this. If they do, you won't even see this option. You can choose a Course Structure, this is the same as what we just did in customization teaching style. You can choose a Course Theme, so this is a third way to do that, you could also go to the Color Chips in the breadcrumb trail or just go to Customization Teaching Style, you can also learn more about your course. These are just particular Blackboard help files on tools and features. If I uncheck Hide Quick Setup Guide when I enter the course, this Quick Setup Guide is going to show up every time I get in the course, so leave that checked.
In this case, I'm just going to click on Cancel. That's a quick tour of the course structures and the quick setup guide. In our next movie, we're going to take a look at some of the new and improved assessment features in Blackboard.
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