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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.
By default, your Course menu has a link to Tools. If it doesn't, you can actually just go in here and add a Tool link, but in this case, I am going to click on Tools and notice that Blackboard has a bunch of tools and I might not need to use all of these in my course this semester. So, I can actually hide the tool that I don't want to use this semester. For example, if I don't want to use Messages in this course, if I click on Hide Link, what I am doing is I'm hiding that link from the students.
It doesn't actually disable the tool--the tool is still there. We can still access it down through the control panel. All this does is hide the tool from the students on this page, and students may actually still be able to find that tool somewhere else in the course. Let me show you. So, I have got Journals, Messages, My Grades. If I turn Edit Mode off, I get into Student Mode and notice that Messages is now disappeared from the page. Turn it back on, Messages show up. My recommendation is, go here and just turn off the tools that you don't think you're going to be using.
However, leave at least two tools on at all times. There is a colleague of mine who reported that they had some problems when they showed only one tool. So, again, all we're doing is we're hiding the tool from the students. To manage a particular tool's availability throughout the course, under Course Management, under Customization, click Tool Availability. Now, for each of these tools, there are four options. Option number one is Available. In other words, this tool can be used anywhere in the course.
Unavailable means it can't be used by anyone, including you, until you turn it back on. So, making something unavailable is actually a very powerful way to get rid of the tool, but it can lead to problems down the road. You need to make sure that if you uncheck this as being available, you really want it unchecked. Visible to Guests, well, you need to check with your help desk to see what your institution's policy on guest access to your course is. By default, many institutions don't allow guests to get into Blackboard courses, so this column may be moved for you.
Your help desk would be able to tell you whether or not that's a policy at your campus. If your institution does allow guests to come into courses, you can choose what tools the guests can and cannot see. Visible to Observers, observers doesn't mean what you think it is. It's not somebody observing your course. Observers are someone assigned to follow a specific user without interacting with Blackboard. Think a parent or an athletic department staff member tracking a single particular student's progress. So, you get to decide what observers can do, but it's not observers who are participating in your course, these are observers who are watching a particular student.
And then Available on Content Areas. For example, we've created an information area or a content area. Do I want to be able to add that tool there, is all I am saying. Now, I want you to notice that there are some grayed-out check boxes here. For example, the Adaptive Release, you can't make this visible to guest. That's actually have been disabled by the system administrator. Your system administrator can tell you a little more about that. The big thing to remember is turning off tools here, system-wide, through the entire course, causes some confusion, because what might happen is you might accidentally forget that you turned off Announcements, and then you try to go and make an announcement and it's like, where do the announcements go? My suggestion, only disable those tools that you know you will never use and when in doubt, leave it on.
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