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Using Course Structures

Last Modified
15:32, 23 Jul 2013

Build Your Course: 1, 2, 3...GO!

Even if you are new to online instruction, course structures enable you to create a course in a short amount of time. Use a course structure's course menu links, instructions, and content examples to jump-start your course organization and create a meaningful learning experience for students.

After completing three basic steps, your course will be ready for students.

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Step 1: Select a Course Structure

Before you begin, you can export or archive your course before adding a course structure to ensure you have an original version. To learn more, see Exporting and Archiving Courses.

A selected course structure's content is added to your course and does not replace existing menu items and content. You can delete unnecessary items.

Select a course structure on the Teaching Style page.

  1. On the Control Panel, expand the Customization section and select Teaching Style.
  2. On the Teaching Style page, in the Select Course Structure section, the left column displays all course structures in a scrollable list. Select different course structures to browse their descriptions and preview their course menus. In the preview, you can click a course menu link to learn the purpose of that item in the course structure.

    If the Select Course Structure section is not visible, your institution has disabled it.

  3. Decide on a course structure and click Use This Structure to select it. Your selected course structure is indicated by a green check mark at the top of the course structure selection tool.

    To revert, click Existing Menu in the course structures' list and click Use This Structure. No changes are made to your course if Existing Menu is selected.

  4. After selecting a course structure, the Include content examples check box is revealed. Select it to add content items and instructions as well as the course structure's menu links. If you do not include content examples, only menu links are added to your course.

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  5. Click Submit to import the course structure and optional content examples to your course. Click Cancel to exit without making changes to your course.

Alternatively, select a course structure in the pop-up Quick Setup Guide. If your Blackboard administrator has enabled it, the pop-up window appears each time you enter your course until you disable it at the bottom of the window. Or, you can access the pop-up window using the following steps.

  1. On the Control Panel, expand the Customization section and select Quick Setup Guide.
  2. Expand the Choose a Course Structure section. The left column displays all course structures in a scrollable list. Select different course structures to browse their descriptions and preview their course menus. In the preview, you can click a course menu link to learn the purpose of that item in the course structure.

    If the Choose a Course Structure section is not visible, your institution has disabled it.

  3. Decide on a course structure and click Use This Structure to select it. Your selected course structure is indicated by a green check mark at the top of the course structure selection tool.

    To revert, click Existing Menu in the course structures list and click Use This Structure. No changes are made to your course if Existing Menu is selected.

  4. After selecting a course structure, the Include content examples check box is revealed. Select it to add content items and instructions as well as the course structure's menu links. If you do not include content examples, only menu links are added to your course.
  5. Click Apply Changes to import the course structure and optional content examples to your course. Click Cancel to exit without making changes to your course.

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If you browse and select a different course structure from the list after clicking Use this Structure and opt to Include content example, the Include content examples for phrase does not update until a new course structure is applied.

Add only one structure to a course. Adding more than one course structure in the same course can result in duplicate menu items and content. To prevent this, create or request an empty course to experiment with additional course structures.

For detailed descriptions of each course structure, see Selecting a Course Structure.

Step 2: Include Content Examples -OR- Start Fresh

Including a course structure's content examples populates your course with items appropriate to the course structure type. The content examples are intended to be edited for your own use and are designed to inspire both experienced and novice Blackboard Learn instructors.

Sample Content
Include Sample Contents Content Included
Yes If you decide to include content examples, your course will contain:
  • Pedagogical information
  • Step-by-step instructions
  • Teaching tips
  • Links to video tutorials and Blackboard Help topics
  • Course material: content items, tools, assignments, tests, surveys, announcements, web links, and mashups.
Content examples are unavailable to students and have a distinct visual style that is removed automatically when an item is made available. For most course structures, the topic of oceanography is used for the sample items to demonstrate how items and tools can be used with your teaching method. You have the option to edit these items and make them available so students can view them -OR- delete them and create new items.

Users who are familiar with Blackboard Learn can include content examples to see samples of course material and explore new tools and features.

When you add a course structure to your course, a folder named "sample_content" is added to your course's storage repository, to course files or the Content Collection. The folder contains the files used in the course structure's examples. If you already have folders in Course Files or the Content Collection, the "sample_content" folder appears in an "ImportedContent" folder. If you add multiple course structures to the same course, additional "ImportedContent" folders appear.

No If you have experience using the features in Blackboard Learn and are comfortable building different types of material in your course, you can exclude content examples.

If you do not include content examples, the course structure's course menu links are added, but provide empty areas where you can create content.

If you want to include the course structure's content examples, select the Include content examples check box. If you have content in your course, the course structure's content appears also.

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Step 3: Create Content

After selecting a course structure, you can customize your course. The following checklist provides the essential tasks for preparing your course for students.

Change Edit Mode to ON to reveal editing features.

  1. Organize the Course Menu

    You can rename, reorder, delete, hide, and add course menu links as needed. Deleting a content area link from the course menu is a quick way to delete an entire area as well as the items within it. However, the content area and all items within it are permanently deleted. This action is final. If you are unsure, hide the content area instead.

    If a tool link on the course menu does not work, the tool is not enabled. You can delete the link or ask  your institution to enable it.

    If you did not include content examples, the course structure's course menu links provide empty areas where you can create content.

    To learn more, see Course Menu.

  2. Create Content Items, Tool Links, and Files

    After your course menu is organized, you can upload files from your computer, edit existing content, and create new content and tool links. Using a wide variety of content types and tools provides a rich, interactive learning experience for your students.

    To learn more, see Creating Content in a Course Area.

  3. Edit, Move, Copy, and Delete Content

    When you add a course structure with content examples to your existing course, the content examples appear in addition to the existing content and are unavailable to students. You can edit, move, copy, or delete any of the content.

    As you are building your course, if you are still developing some content or do not want students to see it, make it unavailable.

    To learn more, see Editing and Managing Course Areas and Content.

  4. Preview Your Course as a Student

    Be sure to preview your content as a student. In the upper right of your course, change Edit Mode to OFF to see the student view.

    If you include a link to a tool in a content area, the tool’s content must be made available before students can access it.

    If an item is visible that you do not want students to see, change Edit Mode to ON and make the item unavailable or delete it.

    If possible, log in as a mock student so you can experience the course exactly as a student does. Work through your course content and activities, and try out the tools. You may find something is not functioning as you want, helping you resolve issues before students encounter them.

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