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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.
To upload files from your computer to Blackboard, access your course, click on a content area-- in this case Information. If you have any subfolders, click on the subfolder. Make sure Edit Mode is on and then click Build Content and choose either Item or File. Now I'd love to pretend that we're all going to log in to Blackboard and create brand-new content within Blackboard. But the reality is we already have a lot of files on our computer that already exist and we are just going to upload them from our computer to Blackboard.
If you are going to do that though, there are some rules to remember. See, the Internet has some very specific file-naming rules. On your computer, file names can contain extra characters and spaces. On a Mac, your files may not even have any extensions. Unfortunately, that's just not going to work on the web. On the web your file names cannot have any special characters. If you have to hit the Ctrl or Alt keys to produce a particular letter or character in the name of a file, that almost always just won't work.
Also, shorter file names are always better than longer file names. And on a Mac, remember, before you upload a file from your Mac to Blackboard, or any web service, make sure you have the file extension, the .PPT or .PPTX, at the end of the file name. Talking about file types and file extensions, Blackboard out-of-the-box can support most common file types: .DOC, .DOCX, those are Microsoft Word documents; .PPT, .PPTX, those are PowerPoint files; .PDF is Adobe Acrobat file.
If you have a non-standard file type, like say .MCS file--that's a MathCAD file--that may not work on Blackboard until you first speak to the system administrator. The other thing to remember is just because you can put a file on Blackboard doesn't mean that your students are going to be able to open that file. Let me give you an example. Let's say I upload a Microsoft Word doc, a .DOC file, and a student downloads it, but the student doesn't have Microsoft Word.
Well, that's not an example of Blackboard being broken. That's just an example of the student not having the program necessary to open that file. Finally, you do need to be aware that many institutions limit the size of the individual files you can upload to Blackboard, and some limit the overall size of your course. The reason for that is, let's say I have a 100 MB movie file. Well, that file is going to take over 30 minutes to download over the fastest DSL connection. That's just silly.
Keep your files small. When in doubt, break it into chunks, or post it somewhere else like a streaming video server, and then link to it from Blackboard. And I strongly recommend you should contact your help desk for information about your institution's individual file-size and course-size limits in Blackboard. Now, before we get started, I've got a content area called Information over here. I want to rename that. That just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me. I am going to click Rename.
I am going to call this Course Documents and click on the green check box. That saves it. So now I have a Course of Documents folder. I'll click on Course Documents and I'm going to click into my Week 1 folder. So we've changed the name of Information to Course Documents, just to make it a little easier. To upload a file from your computer to Blackboard with Edit mode On, click on the Content Area, click on the subfolder, and then click on Build Content.
By the way, if you're on Blackboard 9, you'll see just to Create Item button. Blackboard 9.1, click Build Content, and choose Item. Now the first thing you need to enter here is the name of your file. In this case, I am just going to call this Week 1 Files. Scroll down a little bit. Now I can, if I want to, change the color of this name so the Week 1 Files appears in some different color. That's completely up to you.
And then I have a text box here where I can enter a description, instructions, a question. In this case, I am going to give the students some simple reading instructions saying, "Please carefully review the following files and be prepared to discuss them during class next Tuesday." And now I've got an option here. If I want to, I can attach files here in this text editor. Down on the bottom row I've got this button here-- it says Attach File. And if I click on that button, you are going to see that this process is similar to the process of attaching a file to an email message.
I am going to click Browse My Computer. On my desktop, I've got an Exercise Files folder. If you don't have this, you can just use any file off of your computer. And I am going to choose the cognitive_art PowerPoint presentation. Don't see the file extension here. That's fine, because on my PC the file extensions are hidden. I am going to click on Open. And it's going to say, okay, I'm going to take the cognitive_art.pptx file, I am going to upload that. If you want to, you can enter some alternative text here. This is for people who are visually impaired.
They have a text-to-speech reader, which is going to read pictures to them, the text that goes along with those pictures. In this case, we are just putting up words on the page, so I don't need alt text here. When the students click on this, do I want this to open in a new window? Sure, why not? I click on Submit. Now I'm not done. There actually is one more step here. If I close this window, click on X, I haven't actually attached this file. I have to click Submit one more time. So it gives me a receipt saying, hey! Guess what? I'm about to upload this thing, but I can't resize it-- it's just going to be a link. Is that okay? Sure. Click on Submit, and I can now add a link to my cognitive_art PowerPoint presentation. Let me hit Enter.
I am going to do that one more time. Let me just go and get one more file. So I'll click on Attach File, Browse My Computer. I am actually I am going to go and I'm going to open the results_chapter and click Submit. Click Submit again. Remember, that second Submit is very important. I've now added this here. So, one way to attach files in a Blackboard course is in the text editor, click on Attach File. Another way to do this, and this is actually the old-school way, you can scroll down and under Attachments, you can also attach it down here.
I'm going to click Browse My Computer. Let's get a different file this time. I am going to click on Desktop, go to the Exercise Files, and I'll actually take the descriptive_statistics. Take that and it's attached it there. I am going to browse my computer. I am going to get one more file. Notice if I wanted to, I can just keep adding files left and right, up until I reach the file-size limit of my institution. So what's the difference between attaching something here in the text box and attaching something down here in Attachments? Well, what you'll see in a minute is that the things that we do in Attachments actually show at the top of whatever we create.
And the links that we have here are embedded within the instructions, or the information, that we give our students. It's completely up to you. I am kind of used to the old-school way. I still do Attachments. I am not use to attaching it in the body. Other people are absolutely comfortable with putting things into the text box editor. This is completely up to you. It's just a matter of taste. I am going to scroll down now and it says, do I want to permit users to view this content? That question is, do I want my students to be able to see this file? The answer is Yes.
I could say no right now, which means that students, when they get into Blackboard, won't be able to see anything in this particular item, all four files, until I turn this on later. But no, I am going to leave it on. Do I want to track the number of views? Sure, I'd like to come back later and see how many students have seen this. And then I could choose date and time restrictions. I can have it show up at a certain date and time and disappear at a certain date and time. The big thing to remember is when you're playing around with the Date and Time Restrictions always pair your Display After and Display Until.
In other words, if you have a Display After date, always set a Display Until date; if you have a Display Until date, always have a Display After date. In this case, I am not going to do that. These files are going to be available throughout the entire length of my course, so I am going to click on Submit. And what you're going to see there, you get to see the attached files. So the attached files show up right here under Week 1 files, and it shows the Excel file and the PDF. And then you get to see what we added in the text editor down beneath it. To see what this looks like from a student's point of view, if you click Edit Mode off, that's exactly what the students would see.
Let me turn Edit Mode back on, because I want to show you one other way to add files. So we've went in, we clicked on Build Content. If you got Blackboard 9, we just clicked on Create Item. Clicked on Item, and we did it through the text editor, and we also did it by Attach File, but I wanted to see that in Blackboard 9.1, there is a new option--it's called File. If I click on File, what this is going to do is this is going to take a file off of my computer, put it onto Blackboard, but it's not going to have any comments or any instructions.
Let me actually do that. I am going to browse my computer and in this case, let's actually go and take the JAWS_citylights, which is an MP3, and yes, you can have PowerPoint presentations, Adobe Acrobat files --you can use whatever you want. In this case, we'll do the JAWS_citylight. Notice it didn't even ask me for the name of it. This is what File does. File is just going to take the file off my computer and put it up there. I can change the name if I want to. I am not going to. I can change the color of the name or have it open up in a new window.
And then we get the standard options: Do I want my students to be able to see this right now? Sure. Do I want to track the number of views? Yup! Do I want to set Date and Time Restrictions? Nope. Click on Submit, and there it is. I now have a link to that MP3. It's not playing on the page. It's not embedded. The students actually have to click on it and download it. Now one thing to remember: we are not in this case giving students access to your computer. When you take these files and attach them or put them up into Blackboard, we're making a link to your computer.
What that means is that the files are safe. You can now turn off your computer and the students can still access the files. But it also means that if you make a change on your computer, you need to re-upload the files back to Blackboard. How do you go and do that? Well, to the right of any of these items that you've just uploaded, there is a button with downward-facing chevrons. Remember, in Blackboard, if you ever see a button to downward-facing chevrons, that always means More or Edit, and in this case I can go back to Edit. And if I click on Edit, it takes me back to the Editing Mode, where I can go and change whatever I want.
In this case, let me hit Cancel. The last thing I want to show you is that I have the ability now to reorganize this. Do you see the arrow, the up-and- down arrow to the left of any item? If I click and hold my mouse and drag, I can actually reorganize anything here. So I don't have to choose a number and say this is going to be first, this is going to be second. Just basically drag it to the order that you want it on the page. So, that's it. Remember to upload files from your computer to Blackboard, access your course, click on a content area, click Build Content, and then click either Item or File.
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