Start of Semester Checklist

Table of Contents

Request a New (empty) Blackboard Course or a Copy of a Previous Course

If you want to build a new course from scratch, request a new (empty) Blackboard course or create copies of your courses from previous semesters by using the Course Request Form.

When requesting a Blackboard course, make sure to read the instructions carefully to match your course needs. During the request process, you may add instructors and designers, copy past course content, and identify the Registrar Sections associated with the course. You will have to add students at a later. You will receive an email confirmation once the Blackboard course creation process is complete. Once this email is received, check the destination course to verify success.

Check the Course Menu

Confirm that the Course Menu consists of the buttons or links that you wish to use and, if necessary, rename, modify, hide, show, or reorder the menu items. Course Menu items that do not contain any content are automatically hidden from student view but are visible to the instructor while in Edit Mode. [Course Menu Video Tutorial]

  1. In the upper-right corner, select Edit Mode ON.
  2. To add a new link to the Course Menu, click the “+” at the top left, and select the item you want to add.
  3. Rename, Hide or Delete links as necessary using the pull-down menu to the right of each link.
    If you remove a menu item, all information within that area is removed permanently.
  4. Organize your course menu using the drag and drop feature to move menu items up or down. For longer course menus you may want to consider creating Subheaders and Dividers by clicking on the “+” icon and selecting these features.

Turn Off all Unnecessary Tools

To simplify your class you will want to hide the links of all the Tools you will not be using. If you decide to use a tool later in the semester you may make it available at that time. Both course and communication tools are combined into a single Tools area in the Course Menu. [Also see Making Tools Available Video Tutorial]

  1. In the upper right-hand corner, set Edit Mode to ON.
  2. Select Tools on the Course Menu.
  3. Click Hide Link next to the tools that you are not using.
  4. To view the Tools that will be available to students, set the Edit Mode to OFF.

Customize Your Course Design

You may select a color and style for your Course Menu.

In the Control Panel, click Customization to open the submenu and click Teaching Style.

  1. On the Teaching Style page Select the Course Entry Point.
  2. The Select Course Theme option allows you to choose from a variety of color schemes and backgrounds.
  3. The Select Menu Style option allows you to modify the course menu colors and whether you prefer menu ites to display as text or buttons.
  4. You may choose whether to have the Course Menu Display as a List or as Folders.
  5. Select the Default Content View so the items within Content Folders display as Icon Only, Text Only, or Icon and Text.
  6. If you would like to display a banner on your course Entry Point (as selected in step 1), Select a Banner by browsing your computer.
    TIP: You may create a Banner in any image editing application—even in PowerPoint:

    1. Open a new PowerPoint presentation and select a Blank Content Layout.
    2. Resize the slide 7 to 8 inches in width and 1.5 inches in height.
    3. Design your banner using WordArt, Text boxes, ClipArt or digital Photos.
    4. Save the Banner as a JPEG, PNG, or GIF file.
  7. Click Submit.

Update Deadlines, Dates, and Materials

  1. Go through all course content and make sure all links and documents are current and reflect the current semester.
  2. Delete all files from the Content Collection that are no longer needed. [Content Collection Videos]
  3. Use Bulk Delete to easily get rid of information and materials that are not necessary.
  4. Update Dates Available and Due Dates for Quizzes, Assignments, Discussions, and other course activities.
    TIP: Use Edit or Edit Options (not Adaptive Release) for each item to set Date and Time Restrictions.
  5. Update Announcements and Calendar events if you use them within your course.

Make Sure the Course Name Reflects the Current Semester

Changing the course name allows users to easily identify the course they are looking for in a list of courses on Blackboard.

  1. To change a course name, please complete this form to submit a request to the ISU Solution Center.

Update Your Contact Information

The Contacts tool should contain information students need to contact the Instructor(s) and/or Teaching Assistants. This may include email, office location, office hours, phone, notes, and photo.

  1. There may already be a Faculty Information or Contacts link in the Course Menu. If so, click on it and edit your info.
  2. To add a Contact link to the Course Menu and enter your contact information:
    1. Click the plus icon (+) at the top left corner of the menu and select Tool Link.
    2. Name the tool Faculty Information or Contacts and select Type: Contacts from the drop-down menu.
    3. Check Available to Users and click Submit.
    4. Click on the new link in the course menu and click Create Contact, complete the template and click Submit.

Upload or Update Your Syllabus

A course Syllabus can be placed within any Content Folder and in the Course Menu.

  1. There may already be a Syllabus link in the Course Menu. If so, click on it to edit your info.
  2. If you do not yet have a syllabus within your Blackboard course follow these steps to add one:
    1. Within a Content Folder, mouse-over the Build Content button near the top and select Syllabus.
    2. You can either upload an Existing File, such as a PDF; or you can Create a New Syllabus directly within Blackboard.
    3. You can then add a Syllabus link to the Course Menu by clicking the plus icon (+) at the top left corner of the menu and select Course Link.
    4. Browse to find your Syllabus within the course hierarchy, make it Available to Users and click Submit.

Add Students to your Blackboard Course

  1. Use ISU Admin Tools to add students by mapping your course to the Registrar’s official enrollment database.
  2. Add yourself as a Demo Student so that you can login as a student and confirm that they can access the materials and activities you intend.

Post a Welcome Announcement

In your welcome message you may want to include the date/time of class, a brief course overview, Instructor and TA name(s) and contact information, any textbook information, as well as how you intend to use Blackboard.

There are several ways to post Announcements in your course. [Creating an Announcement Video]

From the Control Panel area:

  1. Click Course Tools.
  2. Click Announcements
  3. Click Create Announcement.
  4. Fill in the Subject and Message fields and select the appropriate Options.
  5. Click Submit.

If your course opens to a Course Module Home Page and there is an Announcements module:

  1. Click more announcements . . .
  2. Make sure Edit Mode is ON.
  3. Follow steps 3 through 5 (above).

Send an Email

Send an Email to your students once the course is made available. You may want to consider copying and pasting the Welcome Announcement into the body of the email.

  1. In the Control Panel, click Course Tools to open the sub-menu.
  2. Click Send Email.
  3. Select the Users.
  4. Type in a Subject and a Message and click Submit.

NOTE: Be sure to use the Send Email tool—not the Messages tool. Messages stay within the Bb course. Messages do not go out to users’ email, and notification of new Messages is easily overlooked.