Ten Top Tips for a Successful Start to the New Academic Year

Blackboard Logo1. Do you have access to your “15-16” courses?

Most courses for the 2015/16 academic year have been ready on Blackboard since February and have “15-16” at the beginning of the course title. Blackboard takes its instructor information from the Student and Academic Administration Banner System. Any member of staff listed as an instructor for a course in Banner will automatically be made an instructor on the Blackboard version of the course. This information is provided by faculties themselves.

When faculties assign staff to modules in Banner they can state that those staff fulfil certain roles on those modules, the roles are:

Lead – Module Lead
Teach – Staff actively teaching module
Mod – Staff moderating assignments
Marker – Staff marking assignments

Being assigned the above role to a module in Banner will result in receiving instructor privileges in the corresponding Blackboard course.

Admin – Staff with other involvement

Being assigned the above role to a module in Banner will result in receiving teaching assistant privileges in the corresponding Blackboard course.

Where staff are given multiple roles on a module in Banner, Blackboard will use the higher of those roles.

If you believe you should have access to a 15-16 course but cannot see it in your My Courses list it is likely that your faculty has not listed you as having a role on that module in the Banner student record system. To remedy this contact the Curriculum and Timetabling Team (curriculum@southampton.ac.uk / x23506) and ask that they update Banner with the corrected information. You should provide your staff ID number. Once the changes have been actioned in Banner Blackboard will be updated within 24 hours.

2. Find out what’s new in Blackboard.

Did you know that you can embed Lynda.com courses in Blackboard?

You can find out about adding Lynda.com content to your course at the following web page:

Are you getting the most out of the new features added to Blackboard last year? Review our web page to find out about using Digital Badges, Avatars, the Retention Centre and more:

This year the University had advised that all assignment submission should be facilitated electronically where possible, find out about the e-submission features within Blackboard:

3. Have you “rolled over” your course materials?

Each Blackboard course begins life as an empty shell. If you wish you may copy over your course materials en masse from last year’s version of the course to this year’s. You can find out more by going to the Rollover section of our Blackboard web site:

4. Did you make your Blackboard course available to students?

The My Courses box shows whether a course is available or not

When courses are created on Blackboard they are set to be unavailable to students. This is so that you may prepare the course and then make it available when it is ready. You can easily tell if a course is unavailable to students, because the word “unavailable” appears beside it in your My Courses list. Remember to make your course available to students before you tell them to use it. To find out how to make your Blackboard course available check this web page:

5. Do you want to tidy up your My Courses list?

After using Blackboard for more than a year you may find that your My Courses list becomes cluttered. You can tidy it up and make it show only your relevant courses by following these instructions.

You can also now enable your My Courses list to show your courses grouped by academic year for easier organisation. Watch this animation to find out how.

students using Blackboard with wireless laptops 6. Have you let students know where to find help?

Students contact ServiceLine for help with Blackboard, but it’s worth letting your students know that there is a lot of help online for them too. Our web pages answer all common student questions, in particular how to print and download information from Blackboard.

Remember that there are lots of helpful resources for staff too:

7. Do you want to add a colleague or a student manually to your course?

The majority of Blackboard courses are populated automatically using information in the Student and Academic Administration Banner System. However there may be times where you wish to add a colleague or a student to your course manually. Read this web page to find out how to do this.

8. Want to take your Blackboard usage beyond the basic level?A composite used to illustrate the new features in BB

Blackboard offers a variety of features which grow with each upgrade. Many staff only use Blackboard to the extent of uploading their material and making their course available. Often “real life” then gets in the way and despite noble intentions time is not always found to explore some of the other features which could greatly enhance a course. As more and more features are added it can be hard to keep up and get a feel for “what’s possible”.

We thought it may be useful to provide a summary of features that some staff may not have used or even have been aware of before and show a list of useful features that do not involve simply adding content items, folders, and announcements. Each feature listed has a link to our step by step guide on how to use it.

We have also added a column to indicate which of these features you can use right now, and which features ought to be considered at a teaching team, academic unit, or faculty level before implementation, in order to offer students a consistent and congruent experience.

Want to find out about other elearning services at the University of Southampton?

Within the University of Southampton staff and students have access to a large number of services related to elearning. However not everyone knows what they are, what they do, nor where they can find instructions on how to use. We have put in the table below all the resources we can think of. This is limited to services provided by and supported by the University and does not include other services provided by third parties that anyone in the world could use such as Prezzi, Evernote, FreeMind etc.

9. Training

If you are new to Blackboard you may be interested in attending our introductory course, or in using our online training course. More information is available from our training web pages.

10. Be aware of automated security patching on the third Wednesday of each month 8.00 to 9.00 AM

iSolutions is introducing a regular automated patching regime where IT services will automatically receive the latest security patches and reboot themselves.

Blackboard currently has an “at risk” period every Wednesday from 8.00 to 9.00 AM where this time is reserved for carrying out maintenance. See http://www.southampton.ac.uk/blackboard/at_risk

The new patching regime as applied to the Blackboard service will operate on the third Wednesday of each month during the “at risk” period. At this time the Blackboard service may restart following a patch installation and Blackboard would be inaccessible during this brief time. Typically a restart can take 10 minutes from start to finish.

Bonus Tip

Connect with our social media accounts to find out more useful elearning information. We are the Managed Learning Environment Team and these are our social media accounts: