Uploading Contact Information to Blackboard
As an instructor, you will want to communicate to students how to reach you by your preferred communication method and at least one alternative method. Your contact information should appear in several different places within your course. The syllabus is one of those places. The Instructor area of your course is another. While the syllabus is the formal “contract” between you and your students, the instructor area is a place for you to consider going a bit more in-depth about yourself and your experiences and qualifications. While you may also post this in an introductory announcement and/or in discussion or blog postings at the beginning of the class, also placing this information under the Instructor button allows students to refer to it quickly any time they enter the course.
In this post, we will walk through how to customize the Instructor area of a course in the Statewide Template through showing you an example of an Instructor button in use at Ivy Tech and explaining how to duplicate what you see in that area. If you are not using the Statewide Template, the first section below walks you through how to create an Instructor button in your course menu and add the information that appears within the Statewide Template. If you are using the Statewide Template and/or already have an Instructor button, jump ahead to the second section of the document.
If your course does NOT have an Instructor button:
1. Log in to Blackboard at http://online.ivytech.edu
2. Enter your course
3. Look at the Edit Mode button on to top right hand side of the course; if Edit Mode is “Off”, click the word Off to turn Edit Mode “On”
4. Hover over the + button in the top left-hand side of the course menu until a drop-down menu appears
5. Click Create Content Area
Note: When you create this area, you should see a small grey box after its name in your course menu. This means that there is no content in this area. By default, students will not be able to see a button until you place content into the corresponding area.
8. Click the menu item labeled Instructor
9. Hover over the Build Content button and click Item
11. Place your cursor in the large Text box below. This is the area into which you will add all of your information. The Statewide Template includes the following text that you should add as a basic starting point:
Email (Ivy Tech email or messages):
Blackboard IM ID:
12. When you’re done editing, click Submit
The next section will give you a few examples of some exemplary Instructor Info areas and details on how to add these items to your own course.
Making your Instructor Information Stand Out
In this section, you will see an example of an Instructor button from an Ivy Tech course and we will walk through how to create a page that looks similar to this. It’s a good idea to make a sketch on paper of what you would like your Instructor area to look like and then you can plan how to create it using the Blackboard tools.
Example 1: Mr. Brett Creech, Online Technology Coordinator and Adjunct Faculty in the School of Business, Lafayette
Brett Creech has created an Instructor Info area that
- shows off a bit of his personality
- replicates the contact information found in the syllabus
- includes preferred methods of communication (Blackboard Messages and Office Hours), and
- includes a small amount of personal information about his background and a photograph of himself
Brett has used text formatting effectively to emphasize the word Messages (placing this in bold to make it easier for users to see) and has used columns to make the information appear in a cleaner format on the screen. Let’s look at how to use columns to control the appearance of information on the screen.
Controlling Layout with Columns
1. Log in to Blackboard at http://online.ivytech.edu2. Go into your course
3. Make sure Edit Mode is ON
4. Click the menu item labeled Instructor
5. Click the drop-down arrow to the right of the item title and click Edit
6. Since the template already includes information such as Title, First Name, etc., you can either delete that information if you plan to type in your own information or, click in front of the I in Instructor and hit the Enter key on your keyboard to insert a line of blank space
The layout achieved in the example above was done using Tables. You can’t see the borders of the table because Brett has set the border size to 0. We will use a border size of 1 to make editing your table a little easier and then will do a quick trick to make that border disappear. The steps below walk you through inserting a table with 1 row (horizontal) and 3 columns (vertical) just like Brett has done in his example.
With your cursor in the blank area where you want to insert the table:
1. Click the Create Table button from the second button bar
Note: These button bars can be hidden/shown using the small arrow buttons on the far left end of each button bar. If you do not see a button bar, make sure that the small arrows on the far left are pointing up, as shown in the image above.
2. A window will pop up on your screen; for the table we are creating that is 1 row by 3 columns
Note: Your instructor image can be an excellent way to connect with students on a personal level. A good size for images used in this way in the Instructor area is for the longest side to be no longer than 400 pixels. Most digital cameras and camera phones take images that are much larger than this. If you are unsure how to resize an image, your Online Technologies Coordinator can provide a handout on doing this. You will notice that you can set the width and height of your image after you insert the image (step 6) or by dragging the image to resize (any time after step 8).
6. Click Browse My Computer
7. Browse to where the appropriately sized image is stored on your computer, select the image and click Open
8. In the Image Options area, enter an Image Description for your image
9. Click Insert
10. Click Submit at the top of the screen to add your image
Turning off Table Borders
As noted above, Brett set his table border to 0 so that you can’t see the lines of the Table we created in the above example. You can turn your table borders “off” by setting the table border size to 0 in the code that
1. Click the Toggle HTML Source Mode button on the right end of the second button bar
2. You will now see all of the HTML code that drives the “friendly” version of the page you have been editing (i.e. the version the students will see)
3. You are looking for the word border in the table area – it should be right near the beginning of the text- Change the number in quotes after border from 1 to 0
3. Click the Toggle HTML Source Mode button again to return to the “friendly” view of your course
4. Make sure to click Submit when you’re done making your edits
Now that you have added your image, you can click the other two boxes of the table and enter the text as desired. A few helpful tips on making text appear correctly in Blackboard:
- Blackboard’s current text editor doesn’t always properly display text copied from Microsoft Word. If you don’t like the way text is appearing when copied from Microsoft Word, try this:
- Open Notepad on your computer first
- Copy from Word into Notepad and then copy from Notepad into Blackboard’s text editor
- Format the text using the text formatting tools in Blackboard’s text editor
- When you hit the Enter key on your keyboard, Blackboard will often insert what appears as a double space. To insert just a single line of space, hold down the Shift key while hitting Enter
- Enter all of your text first and then apply formatting such as bold, underline, and italics