Blackboard Demo Course

We have created a demo class for students to learn more information about using Blackboard.

This demo course is designed to acquaint students with different features of Blackboard. The demo course will allow you to see how most online courses are designed, how to find information in different content areas  and to introduce you to other features of Blackboard. Touring the demo course will allow you to see what taking an online course is like before enrolling in an online program. Be sure to follow the instructions in the demo to become acquainted with both Blackboard and online instruction.

We strongly recommend that if you are new to Blackboard, you complete the demo course before your class begins. Guests who are interested in learning how Blackboard works are encouraged to use the demo course as well.

To begin the Blackboard demo, click here to go to Blackboard* and use the following log in to access the course.

User ID: student

Password: demo

*Be sure to Logout of Blackboard if you are currently logged in with your JU account.

After logging in, click on the hyperlink on the right hand side of the page called Blackboard Demo Course. This will bring you to the announcements page and simply follow instructions.

If you would like to be added into the course with your own account and have it under your Course list send us an email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Please feel free to share this demo course with your students and let the CTL know your comments or if you have any suggestions.

January 23, 2013


Blackboard Tips, Tricks, and Suggestions for Faculty

Today we’ll begin sharing some things you can do in your Blackboard course to improve your course layout and generally make your course better and more informative.


  1. There is an online Blackboard Help & Support Site for Faculty & Students of JU which will help you use our Blackboard LMS, design and develop your course sites and help answer some of your most frequent questions.  You will also find several brief video tutorials:




  1. We have also created a Blackboard Demo Course that students and faculty alike can use to improve their Blackboard skills. Instructors are encouraged to tell all their students about this training course  and provide their students with the link to the tutorial. The demo course can be seen by going to this URL:

and use the following log in info to access the course.

User ID: student
Password: demo

*Be sure to Logout of Blackboard if you are currently logged in with your official JU account.

After logging in, click on the hyperlink on the right hand side of the page called Blackboard Demo Course. This will bring you to the announcements page and simply follow instructions.


  1. Encourage your students to update their personal information inside Blackboard. Tell your students to take special note of the email address that is listed as their email address inside Blackboard. They should take note of the email address listed on Blackboard as that is the one to which emails will go when the instructor sends out email and notifications from Blackboard to the students.


  1. Put a picture of yourself in the ‘Contacts’ section, and put personal information about yourself in there too. Getting the students involved in the course is crucial to its success, and letting your students get to know you better helps to get them involved. Especially in a totally online course. Getting ‘in- touch’ with your students is even more important in that environment.


This is by no means an exhaustive list, we will be sending out more tips, tricks and suggestions on a weekly basis and if you have additional suggestions that you would like to make, please let us know and we will endeavor to include them here. Feel free to send your suggestions along at any time!



January 30, 2013

QEP Hiatus


February 6, 2013


Do I have control over adding and removing users from my Blackboard course?

Yes, although you will very rarely need to exercise this ability when it comes to students. Adding a fellow instructor or TA is a lot more common.

To add a user:

Under Course Management in the lower left of your course site, click on Users and Groups, and select Users. Then click on the Enroll User button and select the Find Users to Enroll option.

If you know the username, type it into the text field, make sure the proper role is selected in the pull-down menu, and click Submit (NOT "Browse"). It is highly recommended that you use the username to add him or her to your course, as this is the most accurate way to identify the proper user to add. If you don't know the username, however, you can also choose Browse to search for the user by First Name, Last Name, or Email.

To remove a user:

If you want to remove a user from your course please send an email to the Blackboard administrator (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) with the username(s) you want to have remove from the course.

Note: While you can add or remove a user to your Blackboard course site, he or she is not officially enrolled or unenrolled in the course according to the Registrar's office. In fact, if you remove a student who is officially enrolled in the class, he or she will reappear the next day when enrollments are processed again.


What privileges/restrictions do Blackboard course roles have?

Each user can have only one role per course. These roles are course-specific, so a single user could be assigned the Instructor role in one course, but be assigned the Student role in another course.

  1. Both Instructors and Teaching Assistants have full access to a site’s Control Panel. The only difference between the two roles is that instructors’ names are listed in the information available under the Courses tab and through Course Search.
  2. The Course Builder role has access to the Content Areas, Course Tools and portions of the User Management sections of the Control Panel. Course Builders can add users, but cannot remove them or modify their roles. Course Builders cannot use Course Copy
  3. The Grader role has access to the links in the Assessment section of the Control Panel, including the Gradebook tool.
  4. The Student role is the default course role. Students have no access to the Control Panel.
  5. The Guest role has no access to the Control Panel, nor any items under Communication nor Tools. Guests will not be able to access a Blackboard site until two sets of default settings have been changed.


February 13, 2013


Is there any way, as a faculty member, to see what the students see in my Blackboard course?


Blackboard does offer a way for instructors to see (kind-a) what students see, using the Edit Mode button. This button is located in the upper-right corner of each Course area and in any sub-folders. With Edit Mode turned ON, instructors will see many more options that allow them to access all editing and management functions for their course. With Edit Mode set to OFF, instructors can preview a “student view” of the course.


To turn Edit Mode on, simply click the Edit Mode button (located at the top right corner of your course page) so that it displays “On”. Click again to turn it off. By default, some content areas, such as Course Documents and Assignments, are hidden from students because they do not contain any content when the course shell is first created. You may not see these links on the navigation menu when you first launch your course unless you are in Edit Mode.


While Edit Mode Off provides a look at the course from the student perspective, the Control Panel will always be visible to the instructor and will never be visible to your students.


What we have found is that it can be a little bit tough to get a true "student view" of Blackboard.  In reality, the Edit Mode set to OFF will only give you something close to what the students see, but not 100%--you can't see what a student sees in "To Do" or "My Grades", for instance, since those are student-only tools.


Faculty can request a pseudo-student account and then add that account to a Blackboard course to preview course activities. This way you can be sure of how things are going to be displayed in your course for students.


For a true student view or student experience of your course, contact the Blackboard administrator, Arturo Cole (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), to request a fake student account. You can then login to your course as a fake student user and can move through the full student experience. This also provides the ability for you to grade a fake assignment and gain familiarity with the Grade Center.



X7972, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



February 20, 2013


Why do some students not get emails I send from my Blackboard course (Send Email Tool)?


When students say they are not receiving emails you send, first have them check their junk folder.  In most cases where email is not received, the student will find that their email client is sending Blackboard email to junk.

If that's not the case, is the email on record in Blackboard correct?  You can check by going to the Control Panel area of your course homepage, using the pull-down next to Users and Groups and choosing Users.  On the Users screen, search for the student in question.  Is the email listed correct? Or have the student check by logging in to Blackboard and clicking the My Places link in the right side of the top banner. 


From there they can click Personal Information/Edit Personal Information and change their email address, if necessary.


Today's BB Tip: Best Practice - Remove menu buttons and Blackboard tools that you do not actually use in your course.


Leaving buttons in your menu that are not used may cause your students unnecessary confusion. You can accomplish this by going to the Control Panel of your course, and then go to the Course Settings section, and clicking on Area Availability. From this screen you can then decide which buttons you want to enable/disable. You also have a limited ability on this screen to reorder your buttons to suit your needs.

Another best practice is to hide the tools you and your students are not going to use during your course. The Tools page is used to control what tools are hidden in the course.

If a tool is hidden in the Tools area, then students will NOT be able to see/access the tool at all, even if a link has been added to the Course Menu (and instructor can see/access). For example, even if you have an Announcements button on the left-side menu, if it's hidden in the tools area, then students will NOT have an Announcements button at all.

A good practice is to hide the tools that you are not going to use at all in your course so the students don’t get confused.

NOTE: As an instructor, you will still see the tools. If you would like a "fake" student account in order to see/view your course as a student, please send a request to the Blackboard administrator (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or read all about it in last week’s Web Savvy Newsletter.

February 27, 2013


Today’s BB tip: Add your Avatar in Blackboard


An Avatar is a personal image which can be used to represent the user throughout their online experience with Blackboard Learn.


Avatars are another tool to help us communicate with students in their ever increasing virtual world. Students like them because they are prevalent in computer and internet applications. Seemingly, they are everywhere, including: games, social networking, help screens, online instruction, chats, messaging programs, blogs, and artificial intelligence programs.


An avatar gives students a sense of instructor presence by providing a photo or other graphic that visually represents the instructor. Avatars helps to put a “face” to a person in the online environment and, in some cases, also they help users help to get to know a little bit more about their peers.


The avatar appears under in journal and blog entries, as well as other locations throughout Blackboard.


The avatar is especially useful if you utilize an Introductions Blog, where students will not only be able to read about their instructor and classmates, but also to “see” each other’s avatars.



NOTE: When choosing your avatar image, you may or may not wish to use an actual photo of yourself. However, for online classes it may help your students associate you, the instructor, with an actual person instead of just an online entity.


Adding an avatar requires finding a digital image that is no larger than 150 x 150 pixels (about 2” by 2”). You can resize an existing larger image by uploading the image to an online service such as and cropping the photo and editing the image size.

To make your Blackboard site more personal, or to help your students "put a face to a name" in an online course, you can upload an avatar that will display by your name in Blackboard.

  1. Log in to Blackboard.
  2. Click on the  My Places icon in the top right hand corner of the screen
  3. Click the Avatar Icon in the center of the left half of the pop-up window.
  4. Scroll to Personalize My Places and select it.
  5. Select Browse My Computer and select it. From there a pop-up window will allow you to navigate through your computer to select the Avatar you'd like to use.

Now you will see you avatar through out BB:

Bb Grading Café

Thursday 2/28, 9am-noon and 1:30-4:30 in the CTL

Friday 3/1, 9am-noon and 1:30-4:30 in the CTL

Monday 3/4, 9am-noon and 1:30-4:30 in the CTL

Tuesday 3/5, 9am-noon and 1:30-4:30 in the CTL


Gearing up for Mid‐terms? Have trouble setting up your Grade Center on Blackboard? Don’t know how to create and manage grade center columns? Please join us for our open "Grading Cafe." The Blackboard Administrator, Arturo Cole, will be glad to assist you on how to organize your Full Grade Center.


Faculty Learning Community – I have a problem

Thursday 2/28 at 12:30 in the CTL

·         I can’t figure out how to…

·         Why won’t my students…

·         How come Dr. So-and-so always… 

If you have found yourself asking these, or similar questions out of frustration, come and commiserate with your colleagues in this FLC.  In my experience, whenever 2 or more faculty start discussing a problem, solutions abound. 

Please RSVP to Beth (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for planning purposes.


Grapes of Wrath

Friday 3/8 at 3pm in the CTL

This week we will discuss chapters 6, 7 and 8 of Teaching for Critical Thinking by Stephen Brookfield.

Please RSVP to Beth (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for planning purposes.


SoTL in 10 minutes will be taking a hiatus next week in preparation and recovery from the site visit!  Daily announcements about CTL events will be provided.


March 6, 2013

SACS visit Hiatus…

March 13, 2013


Blackboard Tips, Tricks, and Suggestions for Faculty


Today we continue sharing some things you can do in your Blackboard course to improve your course layout and generally make your course better and more informative.


  • Require your students to put information in their ‘Edit Personal Information’ section inside Blackboard. Fostering ‘community’ in an online course environment is very important, so anything your students can do to get to know the other students helps to foster this.


  • Set ‘Virtual office hours’ for your course. That is… set aside a certain time period each week that your students know that you will be sitting in front of your computer if they need you. Most communication will probably be done via email messages back and forth, but having official office hours gives your students more direct access to you.


  • Create a Course Calendar that lists specific dates or ‘milestones’ in your course. This can easily be done by creating a Word document or using a web page editor (such as FrontPage or Dreamweaver) to create an HTML document with a simple table with rows and columns. You can then upload this Course Calendar document to Blackboard.

Note: Blackboard has a feature called the Course Calendar that you can use for this purpose, but also, using a simple table enables your students to visually see upcoming events in the course easier because all the information is listed sequentially on the screen.


  • Use the Survey feature in the Blackboard Assessment Manager. By using a survey, you can gain feedback from your students on any topic that you want to ask them about. Survey questions are totally anonymous, so your students can share their true feelings and you can be assured of getting honest feedback. Some examples of the types of uses for surveys are: seeking feedback on the effectiveness of certain types of homework exercises, or seeking suggestions for course improvement.

Remember, this is by no means an exhaustive list, we will continue sending out more tips, tricks and suggestions on a weekly basis and if you have additional suggestions that you would like to make, please let us know and we will endeavor to include them here. Feel free to send your suggestions along at any time!



March 20, 2013


March 27, 2013



Turnitin is primarily a plagiarism detection tool, but can also be integrated into course activities to help students understand academic integrity in written assignments.


Turnitin generates ‘originality reports’ on student submissions, which can provide instructors with information about plagiarized sources, but the reports can also be used  to help students understand the proper use of quotation marks, how to cite sources properly, and how to paraphrase. As scholars in our own disciplines, we know that we need to acknowledge the ideas we build on from others; this is an important scholarly activity. If an intended outcome for written assignments in your course is to have students reflect on the nature of research or to represent the contribution that other scholars have made in the field, then Turnitin can be an integral part of effective learning activities to support these outcomes. 


To use Turnitin, instructors must add a Turnitin drop box to their Blackboard course

Students submit electronic files to the Turnitin drop box. These files are housed on the Turnitin server. The text in each student’s submission is compared to a large database of other students’ submissions that have been collected through Turnitin from many institutions and to textual material located on the web (for example, websites, electronic documents, and ejournals). Turnitin drop boxes can be configured so that only the instructor views the analysis of the submission (the “originality report”) or so that students can submit and see the analysis of their own work.


Turnitin creates an “originality report” for each submission

The originality report highlights the phrases and series of words that match text already in the Turnitin database, or on the web, and generates an overall similarity index percentage that represents the number of words that the program finds in common with database content and divides that number by the total number of words in the file. For example if the overall similarity index for a submission is 10%, then 10% of the total words in the document can be matched to sequences of words in the database. These words may be in one passage or may be in several, separate passages. If Turnitin is being used to detect plagiarism, it is important to check each paper to judge whether the overall similarity index that has been calculated is due to chance matches, matches to common terms or phrases used for an assignment (e.g. , the title of a key document, process, legislation, etc.) or intentional copying from a source that has not been cited. There are options to generate reports that exclude text in quotations marks and in bibliographies. Originality reports need to be interpreted on a case-by-case basis and any determinations of plagiarism require human judgment. Depending on the number of students in a course and the length of their papers, this process can be time consuming.


If you want to have a Turnitin account for your course

Instructors who want to use TurnItIn need to send the request to the JU Blackboard Administrator (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), who will add you as instructor in Turnitin. With the information an instructor can set up a course and create an assignment in TurnItIn.


Don't forget to read next week's Web Savvy Wednesday newsletter as I will share with you some ideas on how you can use this tool effectively in your courses.


Arturo Cole


April 3, 2013


How can you use Turnitin most effectively in your course?


Here are some considerations for the use of this online plagiarism detection tool.


Preparing your students to use Turnitin:

  • On the course outline, inform students that Turnitin will be used in your course. You must also identify alternatives to Turnitin  for students. Alternatives could be one of: an annotated bibliography, a draft bibliography identifying and documenting all sources and submitted on a specified date before the due date for the assignment, or a “scaffolded” assignment where the student submits an outline of their paper in advance, and then at least one draft of the paper with their list of resources before the submission of the final paper with a bibliography.
  • Organize a trial submission to the Turnitin dropbox so that students have an opportunity to practice accessing and submitting to a drop box well in advance of the assignment due date.
  • Provide a rationale for the use of the tool in both the course outline and the assignment instructions (Ledwith & Risquez, 2008).
  • Make students aware of the citation conventions that exist in your discipline (Sutherland-Smith & Carr, 2005). You can also incorporate resources which will help students learn to use citations appropriately.
  • Discuss the concept of original thought with your students, remembering that scholarly papers are built on the scholarship of  others. If you are asking students to be highly original, then you may have higher incidents of plagiarism because students may be  reluctant to cite their sources properly (Johnson & Clerehan, 2005).


Using Turnitin as a learning activity:

  • Turnitin can be used as a formative or low-stakes assessment around paraphrasing or citation that allows students to review their results and resubmit their assignment after they have addressed their own mistakes (Ledwith & Risquez, 2008).
  • If students are going to look at originality reports of their own submissions as part of a learning activity, make sure that they are taught how to interpret the report; many students have reported that they didn’t understand the report that they received  (Whittle & Murdoch-Eaton, 2008).


Using Turnitin as a plagiarism tool:

  • To help avoid misconduct, clearly define plagiarism within the context of your discipline and how it relates to the assignment that is being submitted, and explain the extent to which students are allowed to work as a group (Goddard & Rudzki, 2005; Johnson & Clerehan, 2005).
  • Taking time in class at the beginning of term to discuss academic integrity and providing resources for students who may not fully understand plagiarism can reduce unintentional plagiarism (Ledwith & Risquez, 2008).
  • Scaffolded assignments where students hand in a series of documents that illustrate the construction and evolution of major papers for instructor feedback can help to document the development of the ideas in a paper and may deter students from plagiarism (Emerson, Rees, MacKay, 2005).
  • Recognize that the use of Turnitin may control plagiarism through the threat of detection rather than by instilling academic values in students (Ledwith & Risquez, 2008).



  • Emerson, L., Rees, M. & MacKay, B. (2005). Scaffolding academic integrity: Creating a learning context for teaching referencing  skills.  Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice. 2 (3a) 12–24.
  • Goddard, R. & Rudzki, R. (2005). Using an electronic text-matching tool (Turnitin) to detect plagiarism in a New Zealand  university.  Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice. 2(3a) 58–63.
  • Johnson, A. & Clerehan, R. (2005). A rheme of one’s own: How ‘original’ do we expect students to be? Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice. 2 (3a) 37–47.
  • Ledwith, A. & Risquez, A. (2008). Using anti-plagiarism software to promote academic honesty in the context of peer reviewed assignments. Studies in Higher Education 33 (4) 371–384.
  • Sutherland-Smith, W. & Carr, R. (2005). Teachers’ perspectives of anti-plagiarism software in raising issues of educational integrity. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice. 2 (3b) 94–101.
  • Whittle, S.R. & Murdoch-Eaton, D.G. (2008). Learning about plagiarism using Turnitin detection software. Med Educ.  42(5) 528–528.


Don’t forget to contact the JU Blackboard Administrator (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to have a Turnitin account for your course.

April 10, 2013

Blackboard Tip of the Week: Use the wiki function for sign-ups


Keep a digital record of students signing up for presentations, office hours, event planning and more by posting times in the wiki and allowing them to place names next to the preferred times.


How to create a sign-up sheet in Blackboard

An instructor may want to create a sign-up sheet to allow students to sign-up for office-hour slots, or to sign up for topics for an assignment, or for meetings with an advisor or conference seats, etc.


The best way to accomplish this is to add a Wiki to your course. A Wiki is a page or set of pages that can be viewed and edited/filled-out by students. Wikis are shared web spaces (web pages) that students and instructors can post material to and edit together collaboratively.


As the instructor, you can decide who in your class is allowed to edit and add content to a Wiki, and which participants in the class are allowed to view the wiki. You can use a Wiki to have students collaborate on a document, do a team project, produce a group report, or any other exercise in working together.


In this case you would want to create a sign-up sheet on the first page of the Wiki with visible slots that the students can sign up for. The students can then come and sign their names in the slots by editing the Wiki page.


Example of the content of the Wiki:

Sign up for Office Hours on this page. To sign up, select “edit” on the right, and add your name to only one slot. Slots are taken on a first-come-first serve basis:


3:00pm _____________________________


4:00pm _____________________________


5:00pm _____________________________


6:00pm _____________________________


Here is a real example by Prof. Robert Hollister:

How to add a Wiki to your course site in Blackboard:

Below you will find  links to tutorials and brief video demos with instructions for how to set up a Wiki. You will want to create a page that all students in the course have access to edit and name it "Sign up sheet" or something similar:



Create a Wikis

(PDF | Video)

Adding Rich Content to a Wiki


Editing Wiki Pages



Arturo Cole

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



April 17, 2013


How can we effectively use Clickers in the classroom?

How might I use clickers?

Instructors generally use clicker systems to augment lectures. Here are some of the ways they have been used:

A physics instructor checks students’ comprehension of the material by posing questions at several points in every lecture, and asking students to click in their answers. The system immediately displays a graphic representation of students’ answers to the instructor, who uses it to determine whether he should slow down, repeat information, clarify a concept, provide an alternative example, pick up the pace, etc.

An engineering instructor delivers a mini-lecture and then poses a conceptual question using clickers. She quickly scans the display of students’ answers and if she notices that a number of students are answering incorrectly, she asks them to discuss their answers with the classmate sitting next to them. Then students are given the chance to modify their answers based on what they have discussed. After students have clicked in their final answers, the instructor displays the results, and discusses them with the entire class.

A philosophy instructor has redesigned his entire course around what Beatty et al (2005) call “question-driven instruction.” The instructor begins the class by posing a meaty philosophical question. He then puts students into small groups to discuss the question before asking them as a group to click in their answer. After they do, the entire class discusses the results, and then the instructor follows with a short lecture.

An art history professor with a large lecture class uses the clicker system at the beginning of class to give a short quiz on the assigned readings. The quiz accomplishes a number of purposes: it ensures that students come to class prepared; it focuses their attention and primes them for the upcoming lecture; it allows the instructor to quickly take attendance; and it encourages punctuality, since students who come late miss the quiz along with the points.


What is the pedagogical value of using clickers?

No technology automatically enhances learning; rather, it must be used thoughtfully and deliberately to advance the learning objectives of a particular course. For example, an instructor in a large or medium-size class might choose to use clickers to:

  • Elicit student participation and engagement to prompt deeper thinking about a particular question or problem.
  • Monitor students’ understanding of course content in real time, in order to identify and address areas of confusion and adjust the pace of the course appropriately.
  • Provide students with instant feedback on their comprehension to help them monitor their own understanding.
  • Spark discussion among students as they compare, justify, and (perhaps) modify their answers.
  • Efficiently deliver and grade in-class quizzes, to hold students accountable for readings and lecture material and assess basic factual knowledge.

Some of the things you can do with the clickers:

  • Find out what students already know about a subject
  • Find out if they read today’s assignment….and even WHO read the assignment
  • Find out their opinions on a subject….anonymously if you want
  • Check to see if they were paying attention in class today….or in a previous class
  • Give quizzes with immediate feedback about correct answers
  • Have quizzes graded and sent to a grade book
  • Play interactive games to facilitate learning key concepts


Some of the advantages of the clickers:

  • Immediate feedback to you and the students
  • Anonymity of responders when you want it
  • Several different kinds of questions
  • Increased student participation and paying attention
  • Increased student interaction
  • Fitting with their world of cell phones, text messaging, etc.


The Center for Teaching & Learning has two set of clickers (Turning Technologies brand) for JU Faculty to check out and use and we are offering a hands-on workshop on how to use them TOMORROW. Please read the full description on the right and RSVP for planning purposes.


Thanks, Arturo ||You are 1123468 visitor