Frequently asked questions related to using Blackboard and eLearning tools:


How do I activate my course on Blackboard?

Blackboard courses are not activated in Blackboard. Once your School Office has set up the course, it is the role of the Lead Academic for each unit to activate the courses using their my.manchester portal. Click the image below for direction.

Courses that are ready to be activated will have an “A” next to them – select this to activate. You will need to decide whether to “Activate and roll forward” (bringing the content from the last year) or “Activate” (an empty course template). Select the appropriate option and click “Activate”. Within 48 hours of activating your course, it should appear in your list of courses on your Blackboard welcome page.

For further guidance on preparing for start of year follow the link to the summary of Start of Year elearning activites on the TLSO website. If you are still having problems activating your course – contact the eLearning Team via the Support Portal.

How do I edit my course?

Edit mode can be turned on and off from the top right corner of your Blackboard course page. This can be useful as a quick check to see what is open for students to view. Remember to switch back to edit “ON” to update any course materials.

If you are still having problems editing your course, check your access rights within the course or contact the eLearning Team via the Support Portal.

How do I keep my Blackboard course well structured?

Uploading documents into content areas within your Blackboard space with no structure can start to look overloaded and unmanaged. Using folders and making effective use of the areas in the content menu can help keep your course well organised and easy for the student to navigate. Using your courses file store or “Content Collection” effectively to manage your files and content will also help maintain a well-structured Blackboard course. This link to Blackboard guides will help you to copy, move, overwrite and organised the files in your courses content collection.

The eLearning Team also offer training in content management which you may be interested in attending. For more details on our courses, please search the term FSEELT with the Staff Learning and Development’s Training Catalogue.

Creating links in Blackboard can be a useful way to signpost students to external material and reading. Deep links can now also be used to send students to the exact spot with the Blackboard space rather that directing to the welcome page of the course.

To create a web link in the content menu:

The content menu sits to the left hand side of the Blackboard course and has it’s own grey task bar at the top. Click the plus button from the grey task bar and then “Web Link” from the list of options. A second box will appear to place the URL and Name of the link you are creating. Fill in these fields and click the box to make the link “Available to Users”. Once you have finished click “Submit”. The link you have created will appear in the content menu. (Click the image to enlarge it).

You can follow this process to create other links in your content menu – such as Tool Links, Course Links and creating additional content areas.

To create a web link in a content area:

Follow the guidance highlighted in this Knowledge Base article to help create web links in content areas.

To create other content items:

Information on creating other content items can be found in this Knowledge Base article.

Deep links allow you to direct students or staff members to a particular content area or item in your Blackboard course (provided they are enrolled on the course). On clicking the link, if the person is logged into Blackboard, they will be taken straight to the highlighted item. If they have not logged in to Blackboard, they will be asked to log in but will then be redirected to the area or item linked.

This function could be particularly useful for outlining to students where to find materials for their assignments or lecture notes. Click the image below for instruction.

How do I activate Guest Access in my course?

Setting up Guest Access can allow students who you think would benefit from seeing the material in your course, but who do not need take any of the assessment, the ability to view the material posted in the Blackboard course by granting them access. Students will not have access to tools such as assessments test or discussion boards but will be able to view your resources from lectures. This can be useful when PGT or PhD students are supporting in your course or need access to materials you post. If you are interested in using this facility please review the Knowledge Base article on How to allow Guest Access.  Once you have set this up and granted access to the students that need it, you could use a deep link to direct them to relevant material.

How do I upload PDFs?

Uploading files using the content collection allows you to upload several files at one time to be stored in the Blackboard space before posting them into a content area for students to access. This can be a useful way to upload all your lecture notes or PDF documents quickly and effectively.

To upload into the Content Collection:

To upload PDFs or files in this way, select “Files” from the control panel in your Blackboard Course and select the name of the course unit you are working in. You will then see all the files stored in the content collection for this course. From the grey task bar at the top of the content collection, click the “Upload” button and then “Uploads files”/”Upload Zip Package”. Choose the files from your computer to upload and read the options available before clicking submit. You files will then be stored in the content collection and are ready to post into the appropriate content areas. (Click the image below to enlarge).

To post documents from the content collection to a content area:

You can do this by creating a new “Item” in the selected content area, allowing you to give some description to the item and attach more than one file or PDF. Alternatively create a new “File” in the selected content area to display a single document with no additional comments or description.

Find the content area you wish to place the documents. Select “Build Content” from the grey task bar and choose the “Item” or “File” option (depending on which is most suitable). Give the item a name and click “Browse Content Collection” find the document you want to attach and click submit. You will see your document(s) has been attached. Make the post visible to user, review the other options and click submit. Your post with attached document(s) will appear at the bottom of the content area you are working in.  (Click the image below to enlarge).

You can also upload a document straight from your computer without using the content collection, by choosing the “Browse Computer” option and selecting the PDFs or Files you wish to upload.

How do I view my Blackboard course from a student perspective?

It can be useful at times to check your course from a student’s perspective. This can help you to see what is visible to the students and how they will interact with your Blackboard units. To do this you can click the “Student Preview” button at the top of the page. This temporarily turns your account into a student account – allowing you to view and access all the material in the unit as a student. (Click the image below to enlarge).

When in this mode you will have an orange banner at the top of the page from which you can exit preview or view the settings. The settings in this mode allow you to either store any data you create in preview mode or delete all data generated when in student mode.

How do I set up a Blackboard assignment to allow for multiple uploads?

When creating an assignment you can change the settings to allow students to upload their submission more than once. This can be very useful for students working on drafts or if a student submits the wrong file. To do this, start creating a Blackboard assignment from the “Assessment” button on the grey task bar at the top of your content page. After completing the name of the assignment and some instructions, scroll down to the “Grading” Section. In this section, select the link titled “Submission Details”. Under this subheading, you will see a drop-down box next to the title “Number of Attempts”. The from the options in the drop-down list, select “Multiple Attempts”. A new box will appear to allowing you to set a limit to the attempts, generally 3-5 submission should be suitable. Next you will see the option to select which score is used in the grade centre, select the appropriate option from “Score attempt using”. (Click image below to enlarge).

Once you have applied these settings, it is good practice to make students aware of these options using in the assignment instructions. Outline how many attempts they can have and how the attempts will be graded. For further information on these settings and how you can grade the appropriate attempts follow the tips in this Blackboard help guide.

Please note, if you are using the multiple or unlimited attempts along with the plagiarism checker, you may want to exclude the original source(s) when viewing the report (preferred), or consider excluding submissions from the repository database (this will mean that these submissions will not be in the database for future plagiarism checking).

How do I use Turnitin marking in Blackboard?

Students’ submissions can be marked online using the grading tools available within Blackboard and Turnitin. Marking online can be beneficial to both students and staff as the feedback process can become quicker and the quality of the feedback can be improved with the tools available. The following links will give you further guidance on using Blackboard Marking tools or alternatively Turnitin Marking tools. However if you need to mark offline and import grade back into the grade centre you may find it useful to read the Blackboard help pages on marking offline.

For further guidance on providing feedback and marking in Blackboard search the term FSEELT in the Staff Learning and Development’s Training Catalogue to book onto a training session. Alternatively book a bespoke 1-to-1 session via our website.