Adding Content: Items and Files
Content for a course may include a syllabus, assignments, resources such as articles and readings, lectures and presentation, lab instructions and so on. Content can be posted to your site in several different ways – as text, as an embedded image or media file, as an HTML document, or as a file that can be downloaded, viewed and printed.
The first two content types, items and files, allow you to attach files. The ITEM option allows to add a description and add additional files, whereas adding a FILE will create a link to one file without the option for a lengthy written description. Students are provided with a link to the file.
Adding a Syllabus
All courses at the University of Saskatchewan are expected to provide a public syllabus. References for faculty include expectations of syllabus content at the U of S and "Academic Courses Policy on Class Delivery, Examinations, and Assessment of Student Learning" policy.
Instructors can create the course syllabus using a word processor like MS-Word. We recommend saving this as a PDF document to make available online.
Once this PDF version of the syllabus is created, you can easily make it available to the public as follows:
- Log into your course as the instructor or teaching assistant
- Select the "Syllabus" menu item in the course menu.
- Make sure "Edit mode" is set to "on" so you can modify the course
- Select the "Build Content" then "Syllabus" option.
- Choose the "Attach File" option
- Enter a name like "Syllabus for (your course name here)"
- Click the "Browse my computer for copyright cleared file" button
- Select the PDF file containing your syllabus and upload.
- Make sure the "Permit Users to View this Content" setting is set to "Yes"
- Select "Submit" to save the syllabus in your Blackboard course.
As long as you have left public access to your course enabled, the syllabus will automatically be made available to the general public through the Open Courseware system.
The Academic Courses Policy, states “Instructors must make the course syllabus available to Department Heads prior to the start of the course, and to students at the beginning of the course.” U of S Course Tools contains a syllabus tool that allows you to either import an existing syllabus (attach an existing file and recommended method) or generate a new syllabus (not recommend as this is not an exportable file).
Adding Files, Images, URLS, Audio or Video
To add an image:
- Select the image item from the Build Content menu
- Browse for the file on your computer.
- Choose the options for the file (dimensions, border, link)
- In an item or folder or any area of the course containing the content editor, choose the Image icon (beside the paperclip icon on the bottom, left row of icons in the content editor)
- Insert the image by browsing your computer
- Select the appearance tab after upload to adjust the alignment, dimensions and spacing. NOTE: Large images should be sized DOWN before uploading.
- Choose Insert (Update if you inserted the image then went back to right click / edit the current image).
To add a URL:
- Select the External (Web) Link from the Build Content menu
- In the Name Box, type a title for the web resource
- In the Description Box, type a description for the resource. This is a great place to tell the students important information about the resource or give extra instructions (even though the description item is optional)
- You may want to attach a document with the external resource.
- The item will have a default launch (open in new windowl) so no need to set this option - you will be prompted.
- Set any tracking or time release options.
- Click the Submit button to create the link.
To add Audio and Video:
The U of S uses Sharestream (storage for audio and video files) within Blackboard.
Mashups allow instructors to add content to a course that is from an external web site. This content may be used in a variety of ways within a course: a standalone piece of course content, part of a test questions, a topic on a Discussion Board, or as part of asn assignment. The content displayed in a course will still reside on the external website.
Mashups may be added as a content item OR added through the text (content) editor. Adding the mashup within the text editor means you can put mashups in places where users can interact with the content (test questions, discussion boards, and blogs).
The default mashup types include Flickr, Slideshare and YouTube. Other mashups may be added by the institution.
To add a mashup:
- Navigate to the content area of your course
- Select a mashup from Build Content
- Search for content
- Click preview to examine, then select
- Adjust the name of the item
- Set the options
- Attach any accompanying files
- Set options for viewing the mashup
YouTube MashUp on Mobile app
Some mobile devices do not display Flash. In order to ensure that the YouTube Mashup you have chosen will display properly on mobile devices, do the following:
- Select the YouTube content and within the Mashup Options, choose TEXT LINK WITH PLAYER.
- Select the SHOW YOUTUBE URL radio button
Adding Contact Information
A Contacts menu item may be added to your course where you can post information about yourself as the instructor, information about teaching assistants or guest speakers or others involved in the course. The contact information can include campus and email addresses, office hours, pictures and personal web sites. You may also choose to provide a link to this information from the Information page.
To create a contact:
- In the Control Panel, click Course Tools and select Contacts
- Clcik the Create Contact button
- Fill in the approrpiate name and contact information.
- Set the Options (browse for a profile image, a URL for a personal webpage)
To add Contacts as a link from a content page:
- From the content page, select Tools from the Build Content Menu
- Click More Tools, then Contacts
- Provide a description
To add Contacts as a course menu item:
- Click the + icon at the top of the course menu
- Select Tool Link
- Provide a name for the menu item
- Select Contacts from the Type pull down menu.
- Select the Available to Users checkbox so that users can see the information
Working with Equation Editor
The Equation Editor included in the text editor is accessible by clicking the button. Certain browsers are know to have issues with this editor. The recommended browsers (by platform) are:
- Windows: Internet Explorer (7 or higher), Mozilla FireFox (3.5 or higher), Apple Safari, Google Chrome. If the editor is not functional, perform a Java update by visiting www.java.com.
- Mac: Apple Safari (5.0 or greater recommended), Mozilla FireFox (3.5 or higher). If the editor is not functional,ensure that you have the latest Java update from Apple by selecting the Apple in the top, left-hand corner of your screen and selecting "Software Update...".
Editing using HTML
For simple edits, select the HTML option on the Content Editor.
If you do not want Blackboard to modify your HTML code in any way, the following procedure is recommended:
- Create your html file offline, using whatever editor you desire.
- Log into your course
- Select the "Content Collection"
- Select your course (it should be the top one in the content collection list)
- Upload the file to the course. If you prefer, you can use "Set up Web Folder" to set up a WebDAV folder for your course that you can mount as a network drive and then drag files into it as needed. Contact the service desk for more information.
- Link to this file from your course by using the option to "Browse content collection for copyright cleared file" instead of "Browse my computer for copyright cleared file".
- For any future changes, do not use the built-in editor. Edit the file offline and upload over top of the existing file (so the course links don't break). As long as you never touch this file with the Blackboard editor, the editor won't modify the file contents.
If you want to upload an entire "mini web site" of multiple files (including CSS files), we suggest creating a folder in the content collection for this mini web site, put all your files for the mini web site in that folder, and use relative links to link between the files. Then link to the main "index.html" file. That will guarantee that this will properly copy to new courses each year.
NOTES ABOUT THE HTML EDITOR IN BLACKBOARD:
The HTML editor adjusts HTML of the user. This is because the editor is intended for novice users don't understand how HTML works. It is used to embed HTML code into larger web pages (like a message in a discussion topic). If invalid html is used, like a starting <div> without the ending </div>, it could mess up the entire Blackboard user interface. The editor expects people to make mistakes and attempts to correct those mistakes, so modifying HTML is to be expected.
The text editor used by our version of Blackboard is TinyMCE version 3.5.8-100 (2013-03-26). See http://www.tinymce.com for more details. Since it is intended to work with any version of html or xhtml, it will attempt to use html code that is valid as widely as possible. For example, even though closing html tags are optional in HTML 4, they are not optional in XHTML.
Blackboard also has modified this editor for security reasons. For example,instructors can be allowed to embed HTML code that students are not allowed to embed. There are configurable "Safe HTML Filters" that uses an XML policy file to filter potentially dangerous HTML that students could use for cross-site scripting attacks, etc. For example, generally students are not allowed to add <iframe> or <embed> tags to html created by the editor. However, this html filter adds an exception to allow iframes for youtube content. Students can embed youtube videos, but not videos from other similar providers, because of this filter.
A NOTE ABOUT USING YOUR OWN CSS.
If you create your own mini web site as described previously, you can have your own separate CSS file and create whatever you want. If you want to use the TinyMCE editor, there is a "css" button right beside the "html" button. This lets you define additional style options that are rendered as inline styles in the HTML. Again, these may be subject to the html filtering and pretty print rules for the editor.
The TinyMCE editor is extendable. Blackboard has provided its own icons, selected which tools to make available, and has included the ability to plugin the "mashup" tools.
Blackboard also included version 2.3 of the Wiris math editor. See http://www.wiris.com/editor2/docs/manual for documentation. This version supports using MathML to store the equations and also supports cut and paste from MathML. It is implemented as a Java applet, which means Java must be correctly installed and proper permissions granted to run the Java applet before people can use it. It does not support LaTeX, but a LaTeX to MathML converter should work.
To RECORD a lecture (Echo 360), see instructions at capture.usask.ca
- Expand the Control Panel left side
- Expand "Customization"
- Select "Tool Availability"
- Scroll to find Matterhorn Lecture Capture and check the box
- Submit the change
Students may now access lectures from the Tools page in Course Tools.
Deleting, Moving and Editing Content
Use the options menu icon () beside any object to edit, delete, copy, set adaptive release options and so on.
View as Student
To see the course as a student, click the student preview icon beside the Edit Mode On/Off toggle button.