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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.
Last chapter we focused on how to navigate your course site. This chapter we're going to show you how to customize your course site to make your course site yours. And the best place to start is with the Course menu. This is what your students click on to access your content, and for the most part, this is what you click on to add content. Unlike earlier versions of Blackboard, you don't go to the control panel to add content. To add Information, like say a syllabus, you'd probably click on Information. To add content like a PowerPoint presentation, probably click on Content.
Now the menu names may be different on your institution's version of Blackboard, but the concept is identical. How do you rename an item? For example, I've got Information here, and I might want to make the word Information be-- I don't know--Syllabus. To the right of the menu item's name, click the button with the two downward-facing chevrons. Remember, in Blackboard buttons with two downward-facing chevrons always mean either edit or more. In this case, we've got more. And we want to rename this, so I am going to click in Rename Link and type in a new name.
You want to type something short but descriptive. Don't get carried away. In this case, I'll just type Syllabus. And notice to the right, I've got two options. I can actually say, nope, I did it wrong and cancel it, or I can click on the green check box and it says Save. In this case, I click on Save. Now notice that it still says Information here. What I have to do is I have to reload the page. If I click on Syllabus, it now says Syllabus on the right-hand side. Now we've got these two items, Syllabus and Content. These are content areas that are empty.
By default, Blackboard hides empty content areas from the students. But if I were to go in and add content to it, these areas would be visible to the students. Some other tools are always going to be available, discussions groups, tools, help. I can actually show you that's true by turning Edit Mode off, and notice that I am now in Student Mode. Those tools show up. But what if I'm going to be doing a discussion and I decide that I don't want my students to actually get into discussions until week four of the course. Well, you can hide a menu and its contents from your students, but not from you-- you still have access to it.
What you want to do is, say I want to hide Discussions. I'm going to, to the right of the Discussions, click the button with the two downward-facing chevrons. I am going to choose Hide Link. Again, Hide Link doesn't delete it, all it does is it hides the students from being able to get into it until I'm ready to make it available. You can see that there is a new icon here saying hide link. This is different from hidden because it's empty. This is hidden because I say so. I don't want anybody to see this until I'm ready to turn it back on.
How do I turn it back on? Well, I just click on the button with the two downward-facing chevrons and click on Show Link. So we showed you how to rename a link. We showed you how to hide a link. Let's talk about deleting a menu item. To the right of a menu item that you want to delete--in this case I'm going to delete Syllabus. I am going to click on Syllabus, and I'm going to click on Delete. Now, a word of warning: there is no undo. If there is content in here, that's going to go away.
Well, technically these files are going to be in course files, but everything else you create in here is going to be gone, the links and other things like that. So when I click on this, anything that I've got that is in this folder and anything that points to this is going to be broken. Probably I want to be very careful in clicking on Delete. In this case it's empty. I don't have anything pointing to it. So I click on Delete. It's going to give you a message saying, 'You know, if you just want to make it unavailable, hide it. That's a better idea. Are you really sure you want to delete it?' Yeah, in this case I do. It's gone, and there it is.
So I've now removed my Syllabus, and we're back to the Course homepage. One point that I need to point out: don't delete the course entry page, in other words, the page you first see when you get into the course, usually Course home or homepage. You don't want to delete that yet. Later in this chapter, I'm going to show you how to change the first page users see when they access your course. Deleting the current course entry point without first setting a new entry point could cause the course not to work the way you think it should work.
So hold off on deleting the course entry point for now. Let's also talk about reorganizing our Course menu. To reorganize any item on the Course menu, click the up and down arrow to the left of the item. In this case, I want to have Tools above Groups. Click on Tools and just drag it to its new location, kind of a Web 2.0 interface here. Remember, this is your Course menu. Your institution has a default look and feel, but you can now customize this to your heart's desire. So that is how to rename, to hide, to delete, and reorganize the Course menu.
In our next movie, we'll show you how to add new items to your Course menu.
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