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Summary

This article discusses Best Practices for using Blackboard.

 

Blackboard can add substantial value to your course, especially when used well. The following are considered best practices by Rowan's Training & Instructional Support support team. Additionally, many of these tips apply beyond Blackboard.

Organization

  • Choose a consistent, predictable structure for your site. Instructors have a great deal of control over how they choose to set up their sites.
  • Consider giving students a tour of the site on the first day of class so they understand where course materials are located.
  • Let students know your expectations for use of the site, such as how often they should check for updates.

Content

  • Be sure to update any content that was copied from previous semesters and include date changes!
  • Compress PDFs and Power Point presentations (or convert to a compressed PDF) to make them more easily downloadable.
  • Use only alphanumeric characters, the hyphen and underscore (instead of blank spaces) when saving file attachments for Blackboard. Characters to avoid include commas, ?, @, #, $, %, &, *, !, (, ), ', and ".
  • Avoid copying and pasting into Blackboard from Microsoft Word, email or web browsers. Code from these programs has been known to cause many display problems in Blackboard. Instead, type directly into Blackboard or copy and paste from Notepad (PC) or Text Edit (Mac).

Video and Audio Files

  • Use the YouTube Mashup tool or links to external media servers to provide students with access to media content.
  • We do not recommend using Blackboard for audio and video files.
  • Blackboard does not support streaming media, so students have to download entire media files in order to view them. Depending on the size of the file and the strength of the Internet connection, these files may be difficult to upload and download, causing additional problems.
  • Contact Blackboard support for information on streaming video through Helix.

Tests/Quizzes and Surveys

  • Blackboard has the ability to create graded assessments (tests/quizzes) and ungraded anonymous assessments (surveys). Tests/quizzes can be useful for pop quizzes or as exam review materials.
  • Surveys can be a great way to get anonymous informal feedback about guest speakers or group projects.
  • We do not recommend giving large scale simultaneous exams in Blackboard. Large groups actively participating in tests at the same time causes a strain on our system and can lead to problems with test submission for students.
  • Make sure to give enough time to students (30 minutes minimum) who may be taking a quiz from home. Consider that students have a variety of types of internet connection and speeds as well when using images in quizzes as well.
  • Blackboard also does not have any native tools to prevent students from collaborating via outside chat programs or searching the web so there are some academic integrity concerns hence our recommendation quizzes be more of an informational study aid type than a course grade.

Administration

  • Our enrollment process makes the courses available to students two weeks before the banner start date of a course.
  • You can still control the availability of individual items and content areas.

Limits to Course Size

  • There is a limit of 500MB on for each course.
  • If you plan to copy content from previous semesters, we recommend reviewing your course files to remove duplicate copies, unused copies, or to move content such as video and audio to a streaming service like Rowan University MediaSpace.
  • You can also store, link to, or embed Powerpoint and other large capacity files from your Rowan University Google Drive account.


Please contact blackboard@rowan.edu if you have questions, need help copying/moving content, or if you need help viewing your existing course files.


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