2 – Adding and Reusing Content

In the video above, we’ll walk you through the following things:

  • The default template
  • How to copy content from other modules
  • How to add a folder or a document
  • How to embed links and upload files
  • How to release content to your students

Let’s get started by looking at the general default template for modules. Many schools or disciplines have their own specific template, so don’t be surprised if your modules look a bit different. We’ll just go over this briefly to give you a general idea of what to expect.

1 The Default Template

At the top, you’ll see two documents that are hidden from students. One is for you, and you should read closely as it will give you a more thorough overview of the template, highlight key resources, and provide any additional information. This should be kept as hidden from students.

Below that is a welcome document that you should update and release to students. Below that we can see a sort of grey box that has an arrow on the far right – this kind of container is called a “Learning Module”, this can be a bit confusing as this whole page is your module, but we’ll try and make it clear when we are talking about the container.

Inside of this will be documents, some of which may require you to fill in information specific to your module, programme, or school. The Accessibility Statement is legally required to be in your module, and does not require any additional editing so make sure that you leave this content available to students.

Below that, you have the Assessment Area Learning Module that also has areas that will require you to add or edit existing content – be sure to leave the Academic Integrity statement as visible to students.

The Learning Module below that is for the Library Resources, and won’t require any editing!

Underneath that you can see the Video Channel (YuJa), for more information on this see our session on Using YuJa.

Below that are Learning Modules for weekly content, they would need to be edited for any specific titles and to update the week information. You can also see that by default, they are hidden from view and are in reverse chronological order. This is intentional as they can be released by date, and if they are in this order, students will always see the most recently-released week at the top.

At the very bottom of the page is a document for students to let them know how to get technical help.

2 Limitations and Folder Structures

If you are teaching a module you have taught before or you have materials you’ve already created and want to copy them into your new module, you can do that! Luckily the process to copy content between modules is straightforward, but there are a few things you’ll have to look out for.

The first thing to cover before we start copying content is the structure of modules and some intentional limitations you’ll see. There are two types of containers in a module – Learning Modules, that is what these top-level items are that have the grey bars. The other is a folder – those have these folder icons.

Learning Modules can only be the “top level” container. What I mean by that is it cannot be put inside anything else, either Learning Modules or Folders. Folders can be inside a Learning Module, but they can also exist at the top level.

You are also restricted by how many “levels” you can have. At the time of recording, nothing can be further than two levels, or clicks, away from this main content page. So I can have a Learning Module (this would be level 1) and then a folder within that (this would be level 2), but I can’t have any folders deeper than that. I can also have a folder as level 1, and then have a folder within that as level 2, but I can’t make any more folders within that.

We’ll cover how to create Learning Modules and Folders shortly, but it’s important to understand those limitations first as it is likely to have an impact on any copying you’re doing. If you try and copy a Learning Module within another Learning Module, you’ll encounter an issue. And the same is true if you try to put in a third level of container.

3 Copying Content from other Modules

Now, let’s get started actually adding content. First, let’s go to the Course Content area and find where we want to add content. Hover over the line where you want the content to go and click the plus sign icon. In the menu that appears, select “Copy Content”. This will open a side panel that will include all of the modules and organisations where you have a role of instructor, support, or leader (leader is for organisations). You can then either scroll in this list or use the search bar at the top to find the course that has the material you want to copy.

Once you find the module, click on the right arrow to begin finding the content you want. From here, we’ll go into the right arrow for Course Content and then we’ll see the items that are in the Course Content page for that module. If you want to copy over a whole Learning Module you can tick the box next to that item. If you only want items within a Learning Module, you can click the right arrow next to the one you want to go into. Here you’ll see the list of everything there, you can go into folders inside of this if you want, or you can just select a few items.

Once you’ve selected everything you want to copy, you can use the link near the bottom in this side panel that says “View All”. This lets you review everything you selected to copy. Once you are happy with what you’ve selected, click the button at the bottom of the page that says “Copy selected content”. It can take a bit of time to copy content, especially if you are copying a lot of items or large items, so you may want to come back to the module later to check on it.

Once this has finished, keep an eye out for a warning at the top of the page that says “Oops! An error occurred while copying your content. [number] items weren’t copied or contain exceptions” with a link to view the details of any issues. Be sure you open this link! Confusingly, what this error does not mean is that your content wasn’t copied. What it does mean is that the content wasn’t copied identically. If you open this link, you’ll see a clear and detailed list of any changes. Sometimes this will include groups or announcements, even if you weren’t copying group-related content or any announcements. That’s not a problem, we just just make sure you are aware of any changes to your content.

4 How to Add and Edit Folders and Learning Modules

Now, in addition to copying content from existing modules, you may also have to add new content, so let’s look at how to add a folder.

If you hover over the lines between items, you will see a plus sign appear. Decide where you want the folder to be, hover over that line, and click that plus sign icon. Click “Create” from that menu and a side panel will open. In that side panel click on the first item, “Folder”.

You can click on the text at the top to enter the name of the folder and use the text box below if you want to add any descriptions. I’ll name this one “Oscar Wilde” and I’ll use the description to add the note that this will have the readings, notes, and lecture material relate to Oscar Wilde.

We’ll go over releasing content in more depth at the end of this session, but note that when you create items you can also decide if it will be visible or hidden to students. Remember to click save when you’re done.

If you want to change the name, you can click on the three dots and click “Edit” to return to the previous screen. If you want to delete it, you can click on the bin icon that says “Delete”.

 To edit your Learning Module, you also click on the three dots to the right and select “Edit”. We can see that this side panel looks nearly identical to the last, except for the “Forced Sequence” tick box. We’ll come back to that at the end when we talk about release settings.

If you want to create another Learning Module, you can only do that from this level. Remember, Learning Modules are always the “biggest” container, so you won’t even see it as an option to put inside of a folder or inside of another Learning Module. So in the main page, hover over the dividing line where you want the Learning Module to appear, then press the plus sign icon. Click “Create” and in the side panel that opens, you can select the Learning Module that is at the top of the list. From here, it will be the same as when you edited a Learning Module – you can add your name, set the visibility, add a description and again we’ll return to this sequence information later.

5 How to Add and Edit a Document

When you have an empty container like a folder or a learning module, the first time you go to add something you will see all of the options here instead of in the plus sign link. This is because there is only one place to add content!

Click Create and click “Document”. This will open into the content page in this folder. This is essentially a webpage for your content, so you can edit your title at the top, we’ve got the release settings at the top-right. This time we have the option for “Release Conditions”, but we’ll go over this at the end of the session and we’ll make this visible for now.

In the middle of the space you can see you can add content, add HTML directly, or upload files from your computer or Cloud Storage. One important thing to note about adding items from the cloud is that the upload will be a static file. What I mean by that is you can use this option to add items from your OneDrive, but if you change the file in OneDrive after you have uploaded it here, the changes will not appear. It will only upload the exact file as it is at the time you upload it.

However, let’s add some content directly by clicking “Add Content”. Now we have a typical “WYSIWIG” editor. This should look fairly familiar, but there are a few things specific to Blackboard documents that you should pay attention to. The first one is the very first icon – this controls if the text you are entering is a title, header, sub-header or paragraph. This is very important from an accessibility point of view, so make sure that you use these instead of simply making a header by making the text bold or a larger font. We’ll cover this more in our session on “Making your content accessible”.

The next several icons are the typical font controls, but if you click the three dots to the right of the underline icon, you’ll see options for adding a strikethrough, super- and sub-scripts and code snippets. A few icons past that, the “Paragraph” icon allows you to add and customise lists.

The last thing you that we’ll point out in this top bar is the plus sign icon at the far right. You can use this to enter Maths formulas, directly embed YouTube videos and, most importantly, if you select the “External App” you can add YuJa videos directly in this document.

After clicking on “External Apps”, select the last item in the side panel – “YuJa: Embed Media” and find and select the video you want to add. For more information on embedding YuJa videos, see our 101 on “Using YuJa”.

Next is adding an image; the easiest way to add an image is have the folder that holds the image open, then drag and drop the file directly into this box. Here you’ll have the ability to adjust the file name, add descriptive alternative text, and decide if students can view or download the file. Once you’ve filled out this pop-up, select “Save”, and you’ll see the image if you selected an option that included “View”. You can’t adjust image sizes here, so you will need to make sure your original file is the size you’d like it to be.

Click “Save” at the bottom to save the text and image you’ve created. Now you can see there is a line above and below this area, if you hover over this and click on the plus icon you can add another section of content.

If you have multiple sections of content and you want to move a section, you can hover over the section you want to move. If you do this, a set of arrows will appear in the top right-hand corner of the section. Click and hold on this icon, and then move the content where you would like it to appear.

To edit or delete a section, click on the three dots at the top right-hand side of a section and select the choice you’d like. Do note that you can only edit one section at a time, so don’t forget to save your changes before trying to edit a different section!

5 How to Embed a Link

Hover your mouse wherever you want the link to go and click on the plus sign, click “Create”, then click on the option for Link in the side panel. You can then title the link, copy and paste the exact URL add any descriptions and adjust visibility settings. Click “Save” when you’re done.

7 How to Upload a File

We already went over how to upload a file in a Blackboard Document page, but let’s add a file directly to your module page. Hover where we want the file to be, click the plus icon, and this time click on the option “Upload”. Find the file you want to add and then select “Open”. It may take a moment to upload the file, depending on how large it is.

Once the upload has completed, you will see a pop-up that will let you re-name the display name from the file name and decide if you want students to be able to access the file by viewing and downloading, viewing only, or downloading only. We recommend that you select view and download or download only.

The reason we strongly recommend using an option that includes “download” because that will allow students access to download the file in alternative formats using the Ally tool. If you choose “view only”, students lose access to these alternative formats, and it also doesn’t prevent students from saving or keeping your file as they can screen capture anything from your modules. One final note about uploading files – it can be helpful to upload the file in the original format that you created it in (for example DOCX instead of PDF). This can let students download the original file and change font size, colour contrast, and other elements that can help with accessibility.

If you want to record a video in PowerPoint, the best workflow is to add that to YuJa rather than your module page. You can find information on that in our 101 on Recording and uploading PowerPoint videos to YuJa.

8 How to Release Content

Now that we’ve covered how to copy or create new content, let’s take a look at the ways you can release it to your students.

From the main Course Content page, each item will have a link below it that explains how it is currently set – typically this is “hidden from students” by default. To adjust this, click on that link and you’ll see the list that includes “Visible to students”, “Hidden from students”, and “Release conditions”. The option for “Visible to students” does exactly what it says – that item is visible to students with no restrictions. “Hidden from students” is similar – students will not see it, but “Hidden from students” also has one additional useful aspect. If you have released marks early, you can use the “Hidden from students” for that assignment to hide the submission point and all marks and feedback from students. We’ll also cover this in the session on marking and feedback.

Now, let’s click on the “Release conditions” options to look at how we can further control release of content.

In the side panel that opens, we can see a few options that we can use to customise how content is release. The first section includes is “All members” or “Specific members or groups” and the second section includes “Date/time” and “Performance”. You can use these different settings alone or together, depending on your needs.

If you click the radial button for “Specific members or groups”, you can see two drop down-areas, one for individuals and one for groups. If you have already set up groups, you can use this drop-down to select which specific group you want to release the content to. We’ll cover how to set up groups in a dedicated session on that topic. You can also add individual users if you don’t want to set up a specific group. If you have a large class, you may not see all students in this scroll list, so you can start typing in a student’s name to find them. Do note that you can only add 100 people individually – this is a limitation of the software, but also makes sense as if you are adding more than 100 people you probably ought to be setting up groups instead. If you want test this release, you ought to make sure you have a PreviewUser account set up for the class, and be sure to include this account in the group or the individual user list. You can then go into the Student Preview Mode to make sure the release is working as you expect it to. For more information on the Preview User account and Student Preview mode, check out our first session on getting started in My Dundee.

One final note about the user or group release is that you can, and should, use this if you are creating an assignment that is only for some users. Anyone who is not included in the individual members or group set will not see the assignment or receive notifications about the assignment.

Now, let’s look the additional conditions. If you click the Date/Time box, you can decide if you want to release it and/or hide it on any specific dates. Do note that you can have this option enabled along with the user settings.

Below that is the tick box for Performance. This lets you release content based on student’s marks for a specific item. So, if you wanted students to only see the next Learning Module once they pass a knowledge check you have set up, you can do that! You will need to set up the knowledge check or assessment you want to use before you can set up this condition. Once you’ve got that item created, it will appear in the drop-down menu for “Marked Item”. Select what Item you want to base the performance release criteria on, and then there will be a new drop-down menu created that lets you decide what you want the threshold to be to release the content.

So those are the options for all content items in your module, but Learning Modules have one additional way of releasing content. Let’s go to a Learning Module and click the three dots on the right and select “Edit”. Here we can see an option for “Forced Sequence”. You should only enable this after you have finished adding and updating content to your Learning Module. Both the Learning Module and all of the items in the Learning Module will need to be visible to students – you can still use any user/group/date restrictions that you’d like, but the items cannot be set to “Hidden from students”.

Once you turn this on, it will force students to go through the items in order from top to bottom. This means that if you have three documents, then a PowerPoint file, then a quiz within your Learning Module, your students will have to open them in that exact order. Some of your students may want to go directly to the quiz, so you should warn them that they will not be able to open each item until they open the one before it.



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Updated on 09/09/2022

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