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Course Content and Design

Le Design
Copying course content from a previous course site into a current course site
Importing course content from an exported course package
Adding content to a course site
Moving items from one content area to another within a course site
A word on WYSIWYG
Course and file size
Exporting a course / saving a back-up copy

Le Design

Blackboard allows for an instructor to be able to express a little artistic flair and exercise some personalization over a course site. Course sites are created on a basic template. By all means, leave the design to those who think they have an eye for color and use the simple yet perfectly coordinated template design. If you are feeling adventurous, however, you can change the look and color of your course menu and add a course banner. To do this:

When selecting colors for your course menu, please consider those students who may have visual impairments - if you have trouble viewing the course text, chances are your students will also. Select text color that shows up succinctly on the background color.

Video Tutorial for Adding a Banner to a Course

Video Tutorial for Adding Color to Your Course Menu

Video Tutorial for Modifying the Course Menu

Copying course content from a previous course site into a current course site

If you "own" both the previous course site and the current course site, then you can copy content from the old into the new. Please remember that Blackboard course sites are proprietary and therefore if you are copying someone else's content without permission, you are in violation of copyright. If you wish to copy someone's old course site please submit a Help Desk ticket, as well as request the owner of the original course site to send an email to (preferably with the work order # in the email) containing their permission, confirming their approval to have the requestor of the Help Desk ticket added as an instructor to their old course sites, as well as the FULL COURSE ID. 

To copy content from an old course site into a new course site:

The key with course copy is to remember to be in your OLD course site, the one that contains the content you wish to copy into the new course. The copy process can take a while, particularly if you are copying a course site with a lot of content or large multimedia files; so, don't worry if you don't see everything in your new course straight away.  When Bb has completed the process, you will be notified by Bb that the copy has been successful. If, after 24 hours however, you still don't see all of the content you indicated to copy please send an email to so that the delay may be investigated. 

If you incorrectly chose to 'Copy Course Material into a New Course, in Section 1, you will still receive an email that indicates the copy has successfully taken place, but you won't see your content because you don't have the authority to create a "new" course. and even if Bb creates this "new" course for you, you haven't been assigned to it as the instructor.  This is why you must ALWAYS copy into an existing course.  It may be "new" to you, but the course shell must already exist, having been created by the Registrar's Office through Jenzabar.

Video Tutorial for Copying a Course

Importing course content from an exported course package

You also have the option of importing course content from an old course, which has been saved or exported, into a new course.

See above regarding the length of time course content copy/import can take.  Bb will send you an email once the process has been completed. Sometimes, however, the email is sent prior to total completion. You might also need to log out of Blackboard and log back in to see the information loaded in the new semester course site.

Blackboard limits Course Imports to files smaller than 250MB because their server is set to time out by the time a file larger than 250MB is able to upload.  One option is to only import certain items at a time, multiple times.  If your exported course file is larger than 250MB and you want to upload all of it at the same time we can contact Bb through a case submission to have them import it for you, but this does take more time and is dependant upon their availability.  This is all dependant on you having exported your course correctly.  This option does not involve Bb restoring any previous course that you neglected to export. NOTE: If your course is larger than 50 MB, you should contact to discusse clean up options.

Video Tutorial for Importing a Course

Adding content to a course site.

A good place to start is to think about what content area you wish to have in your course site. The content areas are now accessible soley through links in the course menu located on the far left-hand side of the course pages. To add or remove a content area, making sure you're in Edit Mode:ON, go to the blue-boxed addition symbol located in the upper-left-hand corner of the navigation menu.

Blue-Boxed Addition Symbol

Mousing over this symbol will give you a drop-down menu which has ''Create Content Area' as the first option.  Click on this. Name the content area and make sure you check the box to make 'Available to Users' if you want students to immediately have access to it. If you remove a Content Area that contains content (files, folders, items, etc) it will also remove all of the content contained within that content area from user view. Attachments, howvever, will still be located in the Content Collection under Control Panel. If you want to permanently delete the content, you will need to delete items from the Content Collection.

Once your course menu is set up with all of the content areas you desire, you can add content by going into your specified content area (Syllabus, Lectures, Assignments, etc), located in the Navigation menu.  Even if you've checked the box to make the content area visible to users, Bb only makes visible those folders that actually contain conent.  The moment you add content, even if it is only an item that says, "This is where I intend to place my future lectures," the folder will become visible to all users. 

To add content use the icon menu and click on the following:

Content Area Toolbar


Please be aware that you can post most types of files extensions into Blackboard; however, your audience must have the ability to read the file extension. If your students are having problems opening or viewing files that you have added to your course site, make sure that they have the relevant program installed on their computer to view/open the document. There are a number of free applications/plug-ins that students can download in order to view/open documents. Students may also be reminded that they can purchase Microsoft Office products at hugely discounted prices from the University Campus Shoppe.

Video Tutorial for Adding Items and Files

Video Tutorial for Adding Media Files (including URLs)

Video Tutorial for Adding New Pages (including Content Folders)

Video Tutorial for Adding Mashups

Moving items from one content area to another within a course site

Imagine you just added all your course items, Word documents, PowerPoints, podcasts, and now you realize that you've put them all in the wrong content area. Fret not! Blackboard easily allows you to copy and/or move content to another content area.

You can also move/copy an item from one course to another so long as you are the instructor or teaching assistant in both courses.

NOTE: Assessments, such as Assignments and Tests, and Interactive Tools, such as Discussion Boards, cannot be moved/copied in this fashion. To copy these item types, you must use the Course Copy feature located under Packages and Utilities in the Control Panel.

A word on WYSIWYG

Text Editor Icon Menu

The WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor appears with a menu that looks like that of a Microsoft Word document. You can type your text into it and format it. If you would like to copy and paste from a Word document, it is best to use the Paste from Word feature found in the Mashup icon (last icon in the last row). Using Paste from Word will help maintain the formatting from the Word document when it is transferred into Blackboard.

Blackboard 9.1 Text Editor provides information about all of the various icons and features available to you within the Text Editor.

Course and File size

While there is currently no limitation on the size or space used for a USF Blackboard course site, nor for files being added, it should be noted that courses should be no more than 50 MB total in size.

To determine the size of a file prior to attaching it in your course,

To determine the total size of your course,

Every time you attach a file, such as a PDF, Word document, PowerPoint, or video, to your course, it is saved in the Content Collection. When you delete an item from a content area that has an attachment, the attachment remains in the Content Collection. If you no longer need that particular file, you need to permanently delete it.

If you would like the same file to be attached in multiple areas of your course, attach it once using the Browse My Computer option during item creation. After the file has been attached once, you can use the Browse Content Collection button to attach it to other items.

Video Tutorial for Managing the Content Collection

Exporting a course / saving a back-up copy

Saving a copy of your Blackboard course site is not only helpful for use in future course sites but is critical for data maintenance and integrity. A Blackboard course site is proprietary; it only makes sense that you should ‘own’ a back-up of it, too. Be responsible for all the hard work you put into a course site. Be safe and save it!

The best time to export a course site, (and you can actually export a course site as many times as you wish, at any time) is at the end of semester when it is fully loaded with all the content, and you have the settings just so and the course site is ‘complete’.

To export a course site:

The nice thing about having an exported copy of your Blackboard course site is that you can then easily import it, or parts of it, into a new course.

NOTE: Export and Archive are both ways to save your course to your computer, a shared drive on the network, or a flash drive. These two storage options, however, are different in one significant way. A course export only saves the items posted by the instructor. No student work or grades are stored with an export. Exporting your course is a good idea if it is not one that you teach on an annual basis. An exported course can be imported back into Blackboard, much like a course copy.

Video Tutorial for Exporting/Archiving a Course


Frequently Asked Faculty Questions

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Distance, Instruction, & Educational Technology
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