Preparing Your Course

Using the Control Panel

The Control Panel is an area that gives easy access to various course administrative settings that an Instructor, Teaching Assistant, Grader, Course Builder or System Administrator might need. The Control Panel is located underneath the Course Menu and is comprised of the following areas: Content, Course Tools, Evaluation, Grade Center, Users and Groups, Customization, Packages and Utilities, and Help.

Configuring Your Course Shell

The Customization section of the Control Panel provides instructors with several options for customizing the look and feel of their courses.

From the Properties page, instructors can control the functional settings of the course by modifying the Course Name, Description, Availability, Duration, and primary Language Pack.

From the Style page, instructors can control the colors and styles of page elements by modifying the Menu Style and Display, Content View, Course Entry Point (the course homepage), and upload a new course Banner image.

From the Tool Availability page, instructors can control which course tools are available to their students by selecting from a wide variety of tools and building blocks that have been installed by the Blackboard system administrators.

Editing the Course Menu

The Course Menu is located in the left column of the course shell and provides students a way to navigate through course pages. This menu can be customized depending on the organizational needs for the course and personal preferences of the instructor building the course, however, we suggest that you retain the default menu names as much as possible to provide a consistent interface experience for students taking multiple Blackboard courses.

Organizing Content

To maintain consistency for students across multiple Blackboard courses, we suggest that you organize your course content into the default Content Areas linked to the course menu as follows:

Course Information

Use for material that describes the course itself, such as a syllabus, course outline, or assignment schedule. May also be used for information about the instructor, such as a profile or office hours and location, or for general information that may be helpful for your students to know, such as tips about relevant academic resources, guidelines for participating in a distance learning course, or links to Blackboard support options.

Course Content

Use for educational materials. Items can be organized by week, module, topic, or other appropriate arrangement. Some instructors choose to place assignments and exams in this area as well, either as stand-alone content, or in-line with other materials from the same topic or time period.


Use for distributing and receiving assignments if you would like to present them to students in an area separate from the rest of your course materials.

Creating Course Areas for Content

Course areas are simply containers for your course materials. Course areas that appear on the Course Menu are called Content Areas. These primary sections can be subdivided into smaller course areas such as folders, enabling course materials to be organized by week, module, topic, or other appropriate arrangement. Thoughtful organization of course content benefits instructors and students both by making materials easier to find. Folders can remain visible for the duration of the course, or can appear or disappear (to the student) at predetermined times. Folders will always remain visible to instructors (when viewed in edit mode).

Instructors may also create additional content areas and blank pages from the Course Menu or remove links to unused content areas or pages as needed.

Building Course Content

Instructors can create basic course content directly in Blackboard, or upload pre-created files, including text and HTML documents, spreadsheets, slide presentations, audio/video clips, and graphic images, from a personal computer.

Instructors can also add hyperlinks (URLs) to direct students to specific online resources outside of Blackboard, or create a Mashup inside Blackboard using multimedia content from external sites like Flickr, SlideShare, or YouTube.

More advanced users may want to combine course materials into learning modules or lesson plans, but these features are not required for good content organization within a course.

Making Your Course Available

In order for students to be able to access your Blackboard course, you must first enroll your Registrar class list(s) via the ISU AdminTools in your Blackboard course to make it available. Courses may be made “unavailable” to students until instructors are ready to “go live” so that instructors have an opportunity to develop the course privately. This means that even if students are successfully enrolled, they will not be able to see or access the course when they log into Blackboard.

This can be done immediately, or you can schedule a future “go live” date, such as the first day of classes, by entering Course Duration dates. The availability setting is located in the course Control Panel, under the Customization section on the Properties page.

Manage Enrollment Using ISU AdminTools

ISU AdminTools are available in the Course Tools area in the Control Panel section under Course Management. ISU AdminTools establish a connection with the Registrar’s enrollment database to all instructors to:

Enrolling Course Builders, Teaching Assistants, Graders

Within your course, in the Control Panel (at left), click Users and Groups and click Users. On the Users page, click the Find Users to Enroll button.

NOTE: Do not do a Search. The Search function on this page only searches for users already in your course.

On the Add Enrollments page, type in the Username (ISU NetID – the first part of an ISU email address).

NOTE: If you know the ISU NetID, do not click Browse. If you do not know the ISU NetID, click Browse and then search the Blackboard user index by First Name or Last Name, for the individual you wish to enroll. Once the individual has been located in the index, check the check box and click Submit.

Select the Role. Select Enrollment Availability: Yes. Click Submit.