by George Rosa
First, let me start with the real easy part (actually this is all really easy) – how to make a Blackboard course section available for your students to access:
1. Go into the course section that you want to make available to you students.
2. Go to the Control Panel by clicking on the Control Panel link under Tools in the Navigation Menu.
3. In the Control Panel, under Course Options, click on Settings.
4. In the Settings pane, click on Course Availability.
5. In the Course Availability pane, under Make this course available to users? Click the Yes radio button, then click the Submit button.
And that’s all there’s to it! Your course is now available to your students. Now, in the Control Panel, under User Management, click on List / Modify Users. In that pane, make sure the radio button Last Name is clicked, then click the Search button. All individuals enrolled in the section will appear. Everyone listed should see the course section in their own Blackboard home tabs. If a student does not see the course section in their Blackboard account, verify that they are properly logging into the CUNY Portal and Blackboard. If they have no problems other than seeing the section, refer them to the Student Help Desk in Room C595.
Course Availability/Unavailability is one of the most misunderstood features of Blackboard for faculty who are new to it, and it is probably the “problem” that we at EdTech encounter the most. Yet it is the simplest Blackboard feature to understand and control.
As an instructor, when you enter your Blackboard Home tab and you see (unavailable) next to the new course section, it means that you have not made that section available (accessible) to the students registered in that section. The students cannot see it when they enter their Blacboard account; however, it is available to you and you can enter it and configure it the way that best meets your teaching needs. When you feel it’s ready, make it available to your students.
Many who are new to Blackboard assume that their Blackboard sections are automatically accessible to their students, or that EdTech is responsible for making Blacboard course sections available. Also, we often hear complaints from students at the beginning of the semester that they can’t see their courses on Blackboard, because they assume their instructors are using the system when in fact their instructors are not. In truth, the Blackboard site that comes with every course section is set to be unavailable by default, and can be made available by the instructors themselves. This, I understand, was the result of a complaint by the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) that having courses available by default was tantamount to requiring all faculty members to teach online. It is best to have it unavailable as the default, so that you can reveal the section to your students only when you know that it’s ready. The important thing to understand is that you as an instructor should and do have the ability to make a course available to your students when you feel that the time is right.
To view Blackboard Video and Print tutorials, visit:
Blackboard 8.0 Tip: Using the Grade Center –
One of the most powerful features of Blackboard 8.0 is the Grade Center. On its face, the Grade Center is a spreadsheet where columns are created for grade items such as exams and quizzes, and where final grades can be calculated. But the Grade Center is much more. It can be used as the Control Center for a course that is being conducted through Blackboard. First, and most importantly, students can see their grades (and only their own grades) through their My Grades tool in Blackboard as the instructor enters the grades in real-time. Another powerful feature is that comments can be composed by the instructor and automatically sent to students under defined criteria, such as a warning if a grade goes below a certain percentage or a congratulations if it reaches a certain high level. Online tests, Assignments and Discussion Board forums can be synched to the Grade Center, and many other powerful features are available. All these features accomplish two important goals: streamlining the tracking of student performance by the instructor, and allowing students to follow their progress in the course easily and conveniently 24/7 without needing to ask to see the instructor’s physical gradebook.