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Blackboard’s Visual Text Box Editor (VTBE) allows you to format text easily. This WYSIYG (what you see is what you get) editor displays items as users will see them in your courses. The VTBE also has the functionality to allow easy uploading of files, pictures, macromedia flash files, and compatible audio and video files.

Follow these steps to do it.
The VTBE will be available to you when you add or modify Blackboard content items. You will notice that HTML code displays when the VTBE first opens. The HTML code will be replaced with the formatted text after a short period of time. You can get a tool tip when you allow the mouse to hover over each VTBE icon. This is helpful when you are trying to determine what each VTBE icon does. The triangle on the left side of the toolbar will toggle to expand/collapse each respective row in the VTBE.

Note: If you do not see the VTBE you should make sure the VTBE is available in your courses. To verify the VTBE is available, you should go to [Tools] or [Course Tools] (located on the course menu) and select the [Personal Information] link. Then select the [Set Visual Text Box Editor Options] link.

Want more information?
Additional instructions on the using the Text Box Editor are available at blackboard.com.
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

You can embed a YouTube video in your course. When you embed a YouTube video you will see the YouTube video player with the video clip inside your Bb course. Alternatively, you can create an external link to a YouTube video by following the steps listed in Bb Tip #11. If you create an external link, you create a clickable link to the YouTube video. You will not see the YouTube video player inside your course. You only see the clickable link.

Note: YouTube is a third party website and we are not responsible for its content. You should read YouTube terms and conditions before using any videos. You can get additional information on copyrights in this article on Copyright Risks in Embedding YouTube Clips.

Follow these steps to do it.
In a separate web browser window (or web browser tab) find the YouTube video you wish to embed. Look for the text box labeled Embed. Click the [Embed] button (located in the video information to the right of the video). The HTML code for the video should be highlighted. Copy the embed link by pressing CTRL-C (or Command +C on a Mac). In another web browser window (or web browser tab) get into the [Control Panel] of the course you want to embed the YouTube video into. Click on the content area where you would like to place the video. Click on the [Add Item] button. Click the [Toggle HTML Source Mode] button. Paste the embed text you copied into the text box by pressing CTRL-V (or Command +V on a Mac). Click the [Toggle HTML Source Mode] button to toggle back to normal view. You should see your video in the text box. Under Options choose the appropriate options for content availability, tracking views and any date/time restrictions. Click the [Submit] button when you are done.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

Several reflection activities for your Service-Learning courses have been posted to BlackBoard (check the S-L Showcase section). If you would like more information about how to design activities to help your students reflect on their service experience, this section of the Campus Compact website is very helpful.

2

Links to outside web sites can be added to content areas as external links. By adding hyperlinks to your course you can point your students to web pages and Internet resources whose contents are not saved inside of your Blackboard course but are instead located on the Internet.

Follow these steps to do it.
To add a hyperlink to a content area, go to the [Control Panel] of the course you want to add the hyperlink to.

Note: If the content area you want to add the hyperlink to is not shown you will have to create it by modifying the course menu. Refer to Bb Tip #7 for instructions on “Customizing the Course Menu”.

Assuming the content area you want to add the hyperlink to is shown, you should click on the link for that content area in the [Control Panel]. Next select the [Add External Link] button on the toolbar. Enter a name for the hyperlink in the name field, the URL in the URL field, and enter a description or whatever information you want to appear below the hyperlink in the text box. Under Options choose the appropriate options for content availability, tracking views and any date/time restrictions. Click the [Submit] button when you are done.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

1

You can upload files such as lecture notes, tutorials and image files for your students to have access to inside of your Blackboard course.

Follow these steps to do it.
To add a file to a content area, go to the [Control Panel] of the course you want to add the file to.

Note: If the content area you want to add the file to is not shown you will have to create it by modifying the course menu. Refer to Bb Tip #7 for instructions on “Customizing the Course Menu”.

Assuming the content area you want to add the file to is shown, you should click on the link for that content area in the [Control Panel]. Next select the [Add Item] button on the toolbar. Enter a name for the item in the name field. Choose a color for the name and enter text you want to appear below the item name. In the Content Section click the [Browse] button to locate the file on your computer. In the “Name of Link to File” box, enter the name that users will see for the attached file and choose the “Create a link to this file” in the special action field. Under Options choose the appropriate options for content availability, tracking views and any date/time restrictions. Click the [Submit] button when you are done.

To minimize the number of problems your students encounter with accessing the files you should follow the tips for naming files. Additionally, you should use common file types, such as Microsoft Office documents, RTFs, PDFs, GIFs and JPEGs. File size should be kept to a minimum to ensure that documents are accessible by students on slower internet connections. If you are unable to reduce the file size, you should use the text box in the Add Item area to provide your students with information describing what the file is, how large the file is, and why it is important that they view the file. Providing your students with this information will let them know that they have to wait longer for the file to download.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

1

Every university course in Banner is automatically created in Blackboard. Your students are automatically enrolled in your Blackboard course. You can post your syllabus to your Blackboard course so that your students can have easy access to it.

Follow these steps to do it.
The following instructions assume that you have a copy of your syllabus in a file that you can upload into your Blackboard course. If so, you should get into the [Control Panel] of the course in which you want to post your syllabus.

Note: You have to post your syllabus in a content area. If the content area you want to post your syllabus to is not shown you will have to create it by modifying the course menu. Refer to Bb tip #7 for instructions on Customizing the Course Menu.

Assuming the content area you want to post your syllabus is shown, you should click on the link for that content area in the [Control Panel]. Next select [Syllabus] from the drop down menu that on the right side of the toolbar and then click the [Go] button. Enter a name for your syllabus in the syllabus name field. Under the Syllabus option select the [Use existing file] button, [Browse] to find your syllabus file and click [Submit]. After you click submit you will be taken to the Modify Item form. The Content Information section allows you to change the name, choose a color for the name and enter text. Only the name field is required. In the Content section, you should see your syllabus file listed under the currently attached files and items. Under Options choose the appropriate options for content availability, tracking views and any date/time restrictions. Click the [Submit] button when you are done.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

Folders are useful for organizing and structuring content in a course Content Area. Folders are intended to hold collections of items. For example, you may add folders for each chapter or each week of the course to a content area. You can use folders to organize the content area by content-type (e.g. Assignments, Assessments, Group Projects, etc.). Once a Folder is created, you can add content and additional subfolders to it. All of the content types available in content areas may be added to a folder.

Follow these steps to do it.
From the [Control Panel] select the content area that you would like to create a folder in. Click on the [Add Folder] button on the tool bar. Enter a name for the folder. Choose the appropriate options for content availability, tracking views and any date/time restrictions, then click [Submit].

Note: Your course is created with default content areas. You can customize the course menu if you would like to add a folder to the course menu that is not listed by default. Refer to Bb tip #7 for instructions on customizing the course menu.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

8

The Course Menu appears on the left side of a Course and contains links to materials and tools within the Course. All Blackboard courses are created with a default course menu (e.g. text links on a green background and default content areas.) You can structure your course menu to fit your needs. You can personalize your course menu with your own wording, order, colors and styles.

Follow these steps to do it.
From the [Control Panel] select [Manage Course Menu] under [Course Options]. You should see a list of the items that appear on your course menu. To reorder the items, click on the dropdown arrow and select the desired order. To remove an item from the course menu, click on the remove button for that item. To modify a course menu item, click on the modify button and make the changes on the update area page for that item. To add a new area in the course menu, click on the appropriate toolbar button (content area, tool link, course link, or external link) and follow the prompts.

You can change the color and style of the course menu by selecting [Course Design] under [Course Options] in the [Control Panel]. From the [Course Design] screen, select [Course Menu Design]. You will be able to choose buttons or text for your menu style. Both of these can be further customized on the Course Menu Design screen. Click [Submit] when you are done.

You can choose how users can view the course menu by selecting [Course Design] under [Course Options] in the [Control Panel]. From the [Course Design] screen, select [Manage Menu Display Options]. You can choose to make the quick view or detail view available as the default view. You also have the option of making both views available so that users can toggle between them. Click [Submit] when you are done.

Want more information?
Step-by-step instructions are available [PDF].
Visit the Blackboard FAQs for additional blackboard information
or email or call Janice Florent: (504) 520-7418

Attentive readers may have noticed some changes to this space recently. We started this blog to promote our podcast, Teaching, Learning, and Everything Else. We used the blog as a handy way to index episodes and provide additional content such as pictures and links, but the main focus remained on the audio conversations.

Then, in the fall semester of 2009, we decided that we here at the Center for the Advancement of Teaching might have more to say on a variety of subjects, and that a blog might be the best way to do it. Thus was born CAT Food (for thought). We could have established it as an entirely separate creature from the podcast, but I thought it made more sense to simply expand the scope of our existing blog rather than maintain two different blogs going forward.

So, essentially, our podcast blog got bigger and changed its name. Teaching, Learning, and Everything Else is still chugging along, but now it's a topic which will be presented alongside such other topics as Blackboard Bits, Bytes, and Nibbles and Sociable Feast. It's my hope that this model best serves our primary readership, namely faculty in higher education. In particular we are dedicated to our faculty here at Xavier, but we believe much of this content may be of general interest to teachers everywhere.

If you were subscribing to the podcast in a feed reader, you probably didn't notice anything different except that the name of the feed may have changed. Now you know why. If you'd like to continue to focus on the podcast only, you needn't do anything. We now are publishing to separate feeds: one for just the podcast, and another that encompasses all the blog topics, including the podcast.

You'll find all the feed options listed in the sidebar from our main page. And if you don't have any idea what a "feed reader" is, don't worry. There's also an option to subscribe by e-mail.

It was some fun watching the Saints dismantle the Patriots last night. And now I'm doing the wave. No, not the audience wave — I'm not that big of a sports fan and I do still have my basic sense of human dignity. I'm talking about Google Wave.

Wave

Google describes Wave as "a personal communication and collaboration tool," and at first glance it seems to be highly flexible and powerful. Whether it will also be useful and successful is another question entirely.

It's a little hard for me to describe Wave, mainly because I haven't had much chance to play around with it yet. It's invitation-only at this point, and I only got mine a couple days ago. (Props to Nola Cherié King for hooking me up.) I hope to spend some time poking around at it and exploring its possibilities, seeing what potential it might have. This is just what I do, who I am, plus it's my job. In particular I'm wondering what application Wave might have in higher education.

Anyhow, I've now got a handful of invites (eight, to be specific) which I can pass on to any interested parties, and we can check this thing out together. I'm reserving at least half of them for people who are here at the University. So if you'd like an invite, use the comment form below, and make sure to put your e-mail address in the appropriate field (no one will see it but me) so I can send you the invitation. Google says the invites may be delayed but I got mine pretty much instantly. I'll send invites on a first-come basis, but you have to promise to do the wave with me at least once.

Cross-posted from b.rox