Building a course that works well for students

In most cases there will be a separate Blackboard course site for each module. In some cases there may also be other types of Blackboard course sites such as programme-level or academic year-based course sites.

New Blackboard courses are created using a template.

Good practice

The following simple guidelines will make your Blackboard course sites easier to use:

  • Use folders to structure your content. Avoid students having to scroll through long pages to find what they’re looking for.
  • Don't embed content too deeply, i.e. folders within folders within folders. There should be a maximum of three clicks to get to content.
  • Be consistent in your use of titles for folders and content items. Make the titles meaningful so students know what they will find.
  • If a folder or content area is empty, hide it. It’s frustrating to click on something and find it’s empty.
  • Hide any tools that you will not use, for example when setting up Groups.
  • You can use Adaptive Release to ensure students only see content that is relevant to them.
  • Avoid large blocks of text since these are hard to read on the screen. Add plenty of ‘white space’ using lists, tables and pictures.
  • Long content items are hard to read on screen and difficult to print. If you have a lot of information it’s best to attach it as a file instead.
  • Be consistent in your use of fonts and colours to make your course sites easier to follow and look more professional.

Watch out for…

Be careful about copyright when providing learning materials. For more information see the Copyright information on the Library website.

When attaching files, use common file types to make sure students will be able to open the files (e.g. Microsoft Office files, PDF, mp3, mp4). In general, if a student doesn't need to edit a file then save it as a PDF, since this is more compatible with mobile phones and tablets.  Avoid attaching very large files which will take a long time to download.

Accessibility

Blackboard Ally checks the most common types of attached file and other content for accessibility issues. For more information, see the Blackboard Ally help page.

Here are some simple tips to make your Blackboard courses more accessible:

  • Follow the advice above to make your courses easy to navigate.
  • Use the accessibility checker in Microsoft Word to check for any potential problems before you save your documents. To use this, choose File > Info > Inspect Document > Check Accessibility
    Word accessibility checker
  • If you are using images to convey information, make sure you add an Image Description.
  • Include a transcript for audio files and captions or notes for videos.

See the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for advice on making online materials accessible to all your students.

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