Posted by: Ellie Kutz | January 15, 2013

Starting out with Blackboard Learn in Spring 2013?

Here’s what to expect.

1.  Getting your Blackboard Learn Course Site.  Requests were solicited last semester and new course sites have been created (at this point, no new Bb Learn sites can be created for Spring 2013, but you can still request a Bb Vista site).   For courses being moved over from Bb Vista, your edtech liaison has cleaned up the migrated content to make sure it is available on the Bb Learn site.  Once you’ve been notified that your course site is ready, you can log in at using your UMass email username and password.  If you are given a development section to work in prior to the semester start, it will be changed over to a “live” course section sometime between now and the start of the semester.  You will still be able to edit content and add to the live section after that changeover, as it will not be made available to students until a day or so prior to the first day of classes.

2. Working within a template.  Based on feedback from the Fall 2012 pilot users of Bb Learn, the edtech staff created a new, somewhat simplified, template for web-enhanced courses (the template for fully online courses will remain basically the same as in the fall).  The template is meant as a guide for structuring your course site; however, any of it can be deleted and/or a different structure added, depending on your teaching style.  The new web-enhanced template should make it easier for you to update and create course content, but you can easily activate more course options as you choose.


3.  Getting support.   All faculty users are enrolled in the Blackboard Learn 9.1 Online Training course.  Bb Learn Support for using Bb Learn will also be provided through face-to-face workshops  or through Atomic Learning tutorials. Your course site also includes links to supporting materials for you and your students through help on the left hand navigation bar of your new Bb Learn course.  If you need further support, please contact your edtech liaison for email help or to set up a one-on-one consultation.  The edtech staff will answer questions quickly as they arise.

4. Setting up your course.When you log in to Bb Learn, you’ll find a list of courses you’re enrolled in.  At least one will be a course you’re teaching, with a course shell that most likely looks something like the image above.  Another will be a Blackboard Learn Online Training course, which will guide you through key elements of Bb Learn.  However, this training is based on the online course template.  For web-enhanced courses:

  • Your course entry page may be a content page with icons (as in the image above), rather than the What’s New page of the online course template.  The What’s New page can still be accessed from the left-hand navigation bar, and you can change the point of entry to What’s New or to another page such as Announcements if you wish. One of the videos will show you how to do so.
  • For web-enhanced courses, prior content from Vista has been moved into the Course Materials folder.  Atomic Learning tutorials will show you how to create new content folders and add or move materials.

5.  Adding Atomic Learning Modules to support students’ learning.  A new building blocks feature in Bb Learn allows you to add content directly from Atomic Learning (or Flicker, Youtube, Slideshare, or Wimba Voice Authoring) to any content area of your course.   In any content area, under Build Content, choose Atomic Learning (under mashups).  A search pane will open, allowing you to search for tutorials and workshops.  If you choose Blackboard Learn 9.1 workshops, you’ll find a series of videos for students about being an effective online student, for example.  You can preview these videos, then select the individual ones you want to include in your course.


Once you hit the select button, Bb will create a folder on your content page that includes those videos.  [ If you check several videos under one topic, they’ll all appear with the same topic name if your template is set in icon mode.  To change to text mode (offering individual subtitles for each video), go to the page heading action arrow and select  text. ]

6. Sharing your questions and ideas.  A Bb Learn Faculty Exchange blog  has been created as a space where faculty can participate in an online exchange about teaching with Blackboard Learn.  Please share your questions, solutions, and strategies with others.  (Log at on with your UMass email username and password.)



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