As the campus moves from Blackboard 8 to Blackboard 9, much of our training is geared towards helping faculty migrate. Based on what we hear so far, students typically do not feel the change as much as faculty do, as most changes in the upgrade occur in the editing functions and tools which students do not have access to. Some students, especially freshmen, will not even be aware of the upgrade in learning management systems. However, some students may experience the differences in interface and some may have some difficulties in completing their course activities without some initial guidance. Here are some resources you might want to include in your course, preferably at the same place as I showed in the screen shot above:
- Blackboard Quick Guide: (http://ni.oc.edu/2011/06/quick-guide-to-blackboard-for-students/) The North Institute has created this generic student tutorial that covers the basics of Blackboard.
- Blackboard Videos: (http://ondemand.blackboard.com/students.htm) Blackboard did a very nice job of creating various video tutorials that teach students how to do different things in class, for instance, how to submit assignment, how to take tests, etc. Bookmark this page yourself for quick access in the future and share the link of specific videos to students. It would be especially helpful to post link to specific tutorial before an activity the first time it is being offered in your course (for instance, how to create a blog entry.
- Support Central: (http://support.oc.edu) If students have technical difficulties, encourage them to contact the Support Central at (405)425-5555 or submit a ticket by sending an email to email@example.com. The URL for the Support Central is: http://support.oc.edu. Please provide this link as well in your course.
Some additional advice to make it easier for students to use your Blackboard course:
- Place all generic content for your course, such as your syllabus, course schedule, textbook information, resources under “information”;
- Use “content” to post your weekly/daily content and modules. To make it easier for students to navigate, create “content folders” or “modules” to organize them. More and more professors on campus are starting to do this, which set students’ expectations to look for such content in well-organized sub-folders, instead of seeing everything throughout the semester in the same gigantic folder;
- Create a “Question and Answers” discussion forum for common questions in your class. There you can post answers to some frequently asked questions. You can also encourage students to answer some questions their classmates may have.
- If your course is taught online, you may consider recording a screen-casting session sharing with students how your course is conducted and where to find different content or activities. When you do so, please turn your editor mode off so that you are seeing what students see.