From CUNY Academic Commons


Instructional Documents for Students

These sets of instructions (and instructional documents) help students navigate Blackboard, print linked files, create their HomePage, and so forth.

How to Create Groups on Your Course

A newly-created Bb course does not have a Groups button; you have to create one by adding a new Tool Link (in the Manage Course Menu screen) and then clicking the word Groups in the pull-down menu of the title box for this button.

Copying and Loading Images and Animated GIFS

This document also explains how to copy and load images or animated GIFs as banners or as images in textboxes–such as the one of me below:

Putting Directions in the Name of Link to File Box

The document explains how I get all my linked files to say “Click here” (instead of some confusing file name). I urge faculty to consider doing this. You can’t imagine how confusing and off-putting the lengthy, obscure title of most links look.
FAQ about Images in Documents That You Link to Items on Your Buttons


Bb Quick Tutorials on Bb 9 Features and Tasks

Blackboard 8 Quick Tutorials Library– How to use all of Blackboard 8’s tools..

DePaul University’s PowerPoints – Powerpoint presentation about the most salient features of Blackboard 8.

University of Illinois at Chicago’s Gradebook Tutorials -Animated tutorials about BB 8’s Gradebook.

Bucknell University Blackboard Tutorials

Online Resources that Provide Help for Faculty with Black Board 8
CUNY BB Faculty Help Sites

Baruch College Gateway to BB help

Hunter College BB Basics for students and faculty

Hunter College BB help for faculty

CUNY Grad Center BB Help

QCC Online Information and Assistance

York College BB Faculty Support Site:

York College BB Student Support Site:


VIDEO Changing Course Opening

YouTube Videos on Bb 8 tasks and features

Free Software to Open BB Course Zip File

You need to archive onto your own computer your active online courses a few times through the semester as a security measure and at the end when all work has ended. If you need to access its contents, particularly after the course database is no longer available through the university listings in BB, then you need something to open up that zip file used for the BB archive.
From the University of North Carolina comes a free program that extracts the content and organization from a Blackboard course “Export” (or “Archive”) zip file. Here is their text.
What is bFree?
bFree is a free tool developed by the IT staff at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that extracts the content and organization from a Blackboard course “Export” (or “Archive”) zip file. bFree creates either a web site or a folder hierarchy with the extracted information. The web site or the folders exhibit the same structure and names as the original Blackboard course. However, the site created by bFree is not an exact replica of the Blackboard site; certain parts of the Blackboard site (e.g., the Grade Center data, tests, blog content) are not extracted from the export/archive file.
bFree allows instructors to:
1. retrieve texts and other materials that would otherwise be unavailable outside of Blackboard
2. produce independent course web sites with the same content and structure of their present Blackboard course sites
3. preview and extract individual files and other content such as links, images, documents, discussion board forums (stripped of author identity), and wiki content
4. share the course materials or web site with others

The Hunter College Instructional Computing and Information Technology (ICIT) group has this and more in one of Hunter’s help documents:

This is available from a very rich source of BB info and assistance at 🙂

 Alternative Opening for the BB Site – A BB workaround

It is possible to have a BB site open in many different ways and to provide a good deal more to students upon the first opening than is currently available using the standard default “Announcements ” page opening.

You can have the main center frame of the BB site open with any item in the BB site, even files in hidden areas. That frame can open with a document or html page or video or audio or website. I have made it open to documents, websites and even a youtube video playing upon entry into the site. At the start of the course or any module (unit) of the course the opening center frame can display a text, audio or video file introducing the course or module.

How to do this? You need to realize two things.
1. You can set the course site to open where you want it to open.
In CONTROL PANEL you can go to SETTINGS and then go to COURSE ENTRY POINT. This will allow you to select from a drop down list any item from the COURSE MENU and have the course open to it in the center frame or open to it in a new window- your choice.

2. You can add any one of a number of things to the COURSE MENU and then have the course open to it (see 1).
Now you can add any one of a number of items.
Content Area
Tool Link
Course Link
External Link

Using Course Link you can open the site to any folder, file or document or DB forum anywhere in the BB course site.
Using External Link you can have the site open to youtube, wordpress site or page , or any other webpage with a url.

You need to NAME the new item. That name will appear on your Course Menu (the column on the left of the BB site – the buttons area) as an item in the list or as a new button, if you are using the buttons option for the menu.
You might name the new item as ” ANNOUNCEMENTS ” or ” VIDEO of the Week. ”
Then you set the course to open on that item following (1) above.

I change what appears in that center frame with each module(unit) or with each week. I generally am opening to an html webpage on my college website that has information pertinent to the course and updated regularly as part of my virtual presence in the class.

You can open to an html page with embedded items in it and this is much more than the standard default BB “Announcements ” supports.
It is a good idea to have it open with something that carries within it or on it the title and number of the course and section and the semester or the current date. If the media you are using does not permit those identifiers you can deal with the need in other ways .

If you do not have a webpage somewhere with what you want on it serving as the opening center frame you can workaround BB and create an html page stored in course documents in a hidden folder.

Open the item. It will have its own url appear. Capture that url address and treat it as if it was an External Link. Then proceed as given above.

Now you can have a much more attractive and rich course opening , even media rich, than BB supplies as a standard default..

Possible Savings for Students on Textbooks

You might want to share this with your students.
It is information to save on the acquistion of textbooks although it is already posted on the portal landing page, the portal log-in page, and the Blackboard home page.
pdf link:
html link:


You can make use of a feature of BB8 in the discussion board area that enhances communication amongst members and fosters interactions amongst learning community members. BB8 allows for members of the class to subscribe to a forum and then when anything isposted an email is sent out to the subscribers to their email address in the BB roster. The email can simply indicate an item is posted or it can contain the body of the post. This latter feature allows this feature to become a TWITTER for the class that permits more than 140 characters in the message. I have used it with 6BB classes at QCC and SPS with no problems at all and NO MISUSE.

How to do it?

Create a DB forum
Make forum available
Title forum
Allow members to subscribe
Include body of post in email

Then anyone entering the forum can subscribe by clicking on that option in the upper right. They get a confirmation and all is set.
I place this Twitter forum in a permanent position near the top of the DB

Here is my title and message to students. It has worked just fine.
Here is where you post information concerning items related to the course that may have appeared on TV or heard on Radio or a pod cast or a movie or a book or an article in a newspaper, magazine or journal or website. You can also post anything related to the course and people can SUBSCRIBE to this forum and receive your entire post in their email in a manner akin to TWITTER. ALL STUDENTS SHOULD SUBSCRIBE to this forum.

BB8 Discussion Board Oddity

There is an oddity in the BB8 discussion board area. (Well, yes, this is just one) BB8 opens the discussion board forums in either tree view or list view. If it opens with the tree view there is no option on the lower left for selecting all items. However if you click on list view and then click on tree view the option to select all will appear and remain in the tree view as well as the list view for the remainder of the time you are in the DB area.

 BB8 ODDITY with COURSE STATISTICS and “Select All” Feature

Some faculty have expressed surprise and discontent that when they check on COURSE STATISTICS in BlackBoard to look at the report for the activity for the class there are many names that appear for people who were never in the course or were not currently enrolled. This is probably due to requesting the statistics using “all users” instead of using “select users”. If you want the report for all current students and no others just use the select users option and highlight the entire drop down list. This will eliminate the appearance of unwanted and unrecognizable names in the report. 

Creating a Storage Area in a BB class site

You can create an area in a BB course site that is accessible only to the instructor. In that folder can be stored documents and files. Here are ony a few ideas for what can be stored. This supports faculty teaching online who travel and do not take their work computer with them. Files can include:
• Notes on the semester.
• Notes for revisions of the class site for next semester.
• Communications ot students.
• Templates with rubrics for assessment of student work.
• Repertoire of responses to student work, postings and questions.
• BANNERS for use in the weeks as the class progresses.
NOTE: It is inadvisable to sue this for large multimedia files.
• Go to Control Panel
• Go to Manage Course Menu
• Click on Add Content Area
• Name content area STORAGE AREA or something similar
• Enter Submit
• In Control Panel enter the Content Are you just created and place your items within it.
You can download them onto any machine with which your are working and then relocate them anywhere in your BB site.

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