Blackboard Learn Basic Student Guide

How do you access Blackboard Learn?

You find Blackboard as a link in My BSU at Bowie State University Main Page, or you can copy the URL that will take you directly to the software; bookmark this page. To access, type the Username and Password that you use for BSU Email and Bulldog Connection.

Blackboard Top Page

In the center of Blackboard Home screen, you see “My Courses” panel, which displays all courses where you are student. You are able to change the view of this panel by using the settings menu -a gearwheel icon on top right of the panel. You may decide to group the courses by term, show or hide courses, rearrange, etc. At the bottom-right of your homepage, you have “My Communities” panel that shows all campus organizations you are afiliated.

An alternative way of accessing your courses and communities is the Global Navigation Menu, displayed on top right corner of screen, below your name. Click on the little triangle pointing down next to your name to see the drop-down menu that shows courses, organizations, messages, etc. Other Settings menu in this area allows updating information about you and uploading a picture (avatar) that will identify yourself in every course. In addition, you can change colors and font size to personalize your view.

How a Blackboard Course is Organized

Online courses are very diverse in terms of content and activities. However, they share certain elements of design; recognizing these elements will help you navigate a course almost effortlessly and do what is expected from you. First, let us take a look at the main course page:

Top view of Blackboard course

You can distinguish three major components marked with numbers: (1) the left panel or menu area; (2) the view panel on the right, where most of the information is displayed, depending of your selection in the left menu (in the example, the right panel is opened in 'Modules'). Then, each module (3) has an individual organization. In some courses, you may find "Weeks" or "Chapters" instead of modules. If the left pannel is not visible, hover your cursor over left border until you see an arrow that opens it.

The left panel or menu area

Course Menu The Menu Panel is usually divided in two blocks. The one on top is the Course Menu. It shows the course title, e.g. "Elem Statistics in Soci" in this case, and sub-menus for each major course component. There are a few conventions; for instance, 'Homepage' summarizes announcements and course activity. 'Blackboard Collaborate Lectures' is the gateway to an application called Blackboard Collaborate that allows watching interactive lectures with the instructor via voice and graphic communications (you will need a headset for this). 'Modules', sometimes also called 'Course Materials' is where the bulk of information of the course is; 'Assignments & Tests' is for completing assessment activities, and 'Discussions' is a common access tool to all discussion forums within the course.

The lower half of the menu provides access to elements such as 'My Grades' (summary of your grades and instructor comments), 'Other Tools' (a variety of learning and communication aids) and 'Users and Groups' (an a area for working in teams). The latter is not necessarily present in all courses. The names of these components may vary slightly from course to course but the functions are common, as determined by the software.

Common Operations in Blackboard Learn

In an online or hybrid course, your instructor will set up various materials that you can access and also activties that need to be completed within deadlines. Below you will see links to short videos and texts that explain some of the most common activities.