6 Tips to Avoid Frustration and Increase Efficiency in Blackboard

Frustrated Computer User-By Mark Prestopnik, Educational Technology Instructional Technologist

If you are an instructor who hates wasting time, or having to redo your work, then these tips are for you!

1. Compose your Content in a Text Editor then Paste it into Blackboard

Composing your content in your computer’s format-free basic text application (i.e. Notepad, TextEdit) and then coping and pasting it into Blackboard’s content (text) editor to format has many benefits. If a phone call or other distraction pulls you away from your computer, you guard against the chance that your web browser times out, and whoop, all your work is gone. This will also prevent any ugly formatting issues that might occur if you copy and paste from MS Word that take a lot of time to fix. Do your work, save locally to your computer, and then copy and paste and edit within the Blackboard text editor if necessary. It might seem like extra work initially, but this routine will save you time and stress in the long run.

Learn more about using  Blackboard’s Content Editor.

2. Add a Course Link as opposed to adding files in multiple places

If you post your course syllabus or any other file or content in multiple locations throughout your course site, that is inviting error. When you go to update the content, to make a slight clarification, change a date, etc., you now must update that content in several locations throughout your course site. Can you even remember everywhere you placed that content? Instead, add a Course Link from the Add Content dropdown menu while in any content area. When adding a course link, simply select the destination and click submit. You’ll avoid version control problems, and the time sink of having to update content in several places.

Learn more about Adding Course Links to Blackboard. (Note: you must login to your Duquesne Blackboard account to access)

3. Set Your Grade Center Up Early

Don’t wait until you need to begin grading assignments and when course pressures dictate your time. Set up your grade center early and align it with your grade point allocation as outlined in your syllabus. As you know, grades are very important to students, and they expect to easily be able to discern where they are at in the course by selecting “My Grades” from the course menu in your course site. A neatly setup grade center will allow you to focus on teaching and grading throughout the term, and avoid fielding grading questions that result from a messy or incorrectly setup grade center.

Learn more about the Blackboard Grade Center.

4. Use Announcements Often

Announcements are a great way to remind your students of what’s going on in the course. You might say, “I just email them”. Well, when adding an announcement in Blackboard you can check a box to “Email Announcement”. This allows you to preserve a historical record of your announcements and blast all your students via email at the same time.

Learn more about Blackboard Announcements.

5. Hide or delete unused content areas and folders

No one likes to stumble around aimlessly trying to find something. Make your course site easy for students to navigate so they can find what they are looking for. If it’s difficult for you to locate something in your course site, chances are it is difficult for your students as well. Be sure to delete empty folders and hide content items from last year’s course you are no longer using.

6. Get Student Feedback

In closing, don’t be afraid to ask your students for feedback on your Blackboard course site. Students have been in many courses and have seen a wide range of course sites. They will let you know where your site might need a few adjustments to help them in their learning.

Educational Technology is here to assist you with all of your Blackboard needs. If you have any questions regarding anything mentioned in this post, or would like assistance in optimizing your Blackboard course site, please contact us, or attend one of our upcoming training workshops!

Resources
Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/73509078@N00/2468506922/.
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