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Blackboard Collaboration Tools

Blackboard includes a number of tools that can facilitate collaboration in a course site. Faculty use these tools for online discussions, reflections, short writing assignments, group projects, course Q&A and more, and they are using these tools to increase student engagement, even in face-to-face classes.


Discussion Board

Campus Pack Tools

Blogs and Journals

Wikis

Groups

Discussion Board

The Discussion Board provides for threaded online discussion. The Discussion Board consists of three levels:

  • Forums: A collection of threads
  • Thread: A single ongoing conversation composed of many posts
  • Post: A single contribution to the conversation

Creating Discussion Board Forums and Threads

To use the Discussion Board, open the discussion board and click on Create Forum.

Give the Forum a name (required) and a description (optional).  Under 2) Forum Availability select when the Forum should be available for students.

Under 3) Forum Settings set up how the students can post to the discussion board.  Under the Grade section you can assign a points value, which will create a column in the Grade Center for the discussion board activity. However there is no way to automatically grade posts; grades must be manually entered by the instructor.

Click Submit to create the forum.

To access the forum, simply click on the forum title.

Once inside the forum, you can create a new thread by clicking on Create Thread. When you do this, you will be adding the initial post for a new thread. You can open existing threads by clicking on the Thread title.

Grading a Discussion Board

To grade threads:

  1. Open a gradable thread in the discussion board.

  2. Click on grade thread. This button will only appear in threads where Grade Thread is enabled.

  3. Click on grade to view all of a student's posts on the thread.

  4. To add a grade, click on Edit Grade under Thread Grade on the right side of the screen. Enter a grade and feedback (optional), and then click Save Grade.

    Edit Thread Grade

  5. To return to the list of students, click OK in the lower right corner.

To grade a forum:

  1. Open a gradable forum in the discussion board.

  2. Click on grade forum. This button will only appear in forums where Grade Forum is enabled.

  3. Click on grade to view all of a student's posts in the forum.

  4. To add a grade, click on Edit Grade under Forum Grade on the right side of the screen. Enter a grade and feedback (optional), and then click Save Grade.

    Edit Forum Grade

  5. To return to the list of students, click OK in the lower right corner.

Add a Navigation Button for the Discussion Board

  1. Click on the "+" in the top left corner of the button panel, and select Create Tool Link from the menu.
  2. Enter a name for the link. Under Type, choose Discussion Board.
  3. Set availability and Submit.

Campus Pack Tools

About Campus Pack Tools

The Penn Libraries license the Campus Pack blog, journal and wiki tools in Blackboard from a third-party vendor, Learning Objects. The blog and wiki tools in Blackboard were recently updated to the most recent release, Campus Pack 4, which includes new functionality and a new interface.

Personal Collaboration Space

Campus Pack 4 has a personal dashboard page for each user, accessible from the Campus Pack link under tools on the Blackboard welcome page. The dashboard features links to a user's Campus Pack tools across courses, as well as any Campus Pack content that is not affiliated with a Blackboard course site.

Blogs and Journals

About Blogs and Journals

A blog is a website that is designed to be frequently updated by instructors or by one or more students. Entries in a blog are usually displayed in reverse-chronological order.

Blogs can be used for short, regular writing assignments that students are sharing with classmates, such as reading responses or commentary on current events and trends.

Journals look similar to blogs but are private between an individual student and the instructor. Journal entries also display in reverse-chronological order. Journals are often used for personal reflections, either on course work or outside experiences, such as clinicals or practicums.

Please note that blogs and journals are separate entities in Campus Pack 4.

Creating a Blog

  1. Open the content area (such as Assignments or Course Documents) where you would like the blog to appear.
  2. Mouse over the Add Interactive Tool button to reveal the menu and select Campus Pack Blog.

    Create Campus Pack Blog

  3. Enter a title and description.
  4. Set grading options. You will be able to set preferences for availability and membership later on.
  5. Click Add.
  6. Set additional preferences for the blog by editing settings.

Creating a Journal

  1. Open the content area (such as Assignments or Course Documents) where you would like the journal to appear.
  2. Mouse over the Add Interactive Tool button to reveal the menu and select Campus Pack Journal.

    Create Campus Pack Journal

  3. Enter a title and description.
  4. If you wish to create a grade book entry for the journal, enter one now.
  5. Click Add.
  6. Set additional preferences for the journal by editing settings.

Editing Settings for Blogs and Journals

Additional preferences can be set for blogs and journals after they have been created. These three areas replace the extended set-up process that was present in past versions of the blog tool.



  • Settings: Edit the title and description and set availability and appearance. Click Save at the bottom of the page when you are finished.



  • Permissions: Set roles for users and define what privileges they have in the space. This is where you indicate who can read (Viewers) and post to (Authors) the blog. The Owner role should be limited to instructors and TAs as owners can make substantial changes to the blog or journal setup.



    To make changes, click on the Viewer or Author tab. Delete users or groups by clicking on their name and Remove. Add users or groups by clicking on the group and (if needed) individual users. Click Save when you are finished.

  • Widgets: Add additional features such as viewer comments and ratings. The Available tab shows the full list of widgets you can add to the blog or journal. Click Add to use the widget.



    The In Use tab shows which widgets have already been added. On this page, you can modify or delete widgets from the blog or journal. Click Finish to save any changes to the Widgets settings.



Accessing Blogs and Journals

All Campus Pack blogs and journals are accessible both in the content area in which they were set up (e.g. Course Documents or Assignments) or by going through the Tools menu.

To access blogs and journals via a content area:

  1. Go to your course home page.
  2. Click on the content area (e.g., Course Documents, Assignments) in the course menu.
  3. Browse the sub-folders, if any.
  4. Click the View link for the blog or journal.

To access blogs and journals via the Tools menu:

  1. Click on Tools or Communication in the course menu.
  2. Choose Campus Pack Collaboration Space.
  3. Under Content, click on the name of the blog or journal you wish to access.

Contributing to a Blog or Journal

Once a blog or journal has been created, authors can post entries with text, hyperlinks, images, and embedded media.

  1. Open the blog or journal (see Accessing Blogs and Journals).
  2. Click the Add New Entry button in the sidebar.
  3. Edit the title, or click continue to use the date as your title. You can edit this field again later.
  4. Type directly into the space provided or select the icons at the top to paste text from Word (clipboard with W), insert a hyperlink (chain), add an image (tree), or embed media (filmstrip). See a complete list of icons in the visual text editor.

    Blog Entry page

  5. Click Save & Exit when done. This will post your entry.

A PDF handout with this information is available for instructors who wish to share it with their students in class or via their Blackboard site.

Enabling, Viewing and Adding Comments to a Blog

Enabling Comments

Comments in Campus Pack 4 are a widget that instructors can add to a blog or journal. To enable comments on a blog or journal:

  1. Click on Widgets.
  2. Look for the Viewer Comments widget. If it is already on the In Use tab, choose what type of comments is desired and click Finish.
  3. If Viewer Comments does not appear on the In Use tab, click on Available, locate Viewer Comments in the list, and click the Add button. Once Viewer Comments appears on the In Use tab, click Finish to save your changes.

    enabling blog comments

Viewing Comments

  1. Scroll down to the bottom of the blog entry. The Viewer Comments link in the bottom left will display the number of comments, for example "Viewer Comments (3)".
  2. Click on the Viewer Comments link to view comments.

    viewing blog comments

Adding Comments

  1. Scroll down to the bottom of the blog entry.
  2. Click on the Viewer Comments link.
  3. Click in the Add a comment... field to type your reply.
  4. Click on the Post button to post your comment.

    adding a blog comment

Searching Blog Entries

There are two ways to search Campus Pack blogs: by keyword or by using a filter.

Keyword Search

Use the Search this content item box to search the blog or journal by keyword.

Search by Filters

On the right side of the page, you can limit results by number per page, author, tags (if used) or date. Note that some of these options will only appear when applicable. For example, filter by author is only available when multiple individuals have posted entries on a single blog.

Wikis

About Wikis

A wiki is a website composed of one or more pages that allows people to add and edit content collectively. Your wiki starts off with one page: the homepage. You can add new pages at any time and link them together.

Wikis can be used by instructors to share information that needs more flexibility than Blackboard itself provides. They also are great for presenting collaborative group projects or creating a class knowledge base.

Creating a Wiki

  1. Open the content area in your site (such as Course Documents or Assignments) where you would like the wiki to appear.
  2. Mouse over the Add Interactive Tool button to reveal the menu and select Campus Pack Wiki.

    create a wiki

  3. Enter a title and description.
  4. Set grading options. You will be able to set preferences for availability and membership later on.
  5. Click Add.
  6. Set additional preferences for the wiki by editing settings.

Editing Settings for a Wiki

Additional preferences can be set for wikis after they have been created. These three areas replace the extended set-up process that was present in past versions of the wiki tool.



  • Settings: Edit the title and description and set availability and appearance. Click Save at the bottom of the page when you are finished.



  • Permissions: Set roles for users and define what privileges they have in the space. This is where you indicate who can read (Viewers) and edit (Authors) the wiki. The Owner role should be limited to instructors and TAs as owners can make substantial changes to the wiki setup.



    To make changes, click on the Viewer or Author tab. Delete users or groups by clicking on their name and Remove. Add users or groups by clicking on the group and (if needed) individual users. Click Save when you are finished.

  • Widgets: Add additional features such as viewer comments and ratings. The Available tab shows the full list of widgets you can add to the wiki. Click Add to use the widget.



    The In Use tab shows which widgets have already been added. On this page, you can modify or delete widgets from the wiki. Click Finish to save any changes to the Widgets settings.



Accessing Wikis

Campus Pack wikis are accessible both in the content area in which they were set up (e.g. Course Documents or Assignments) or by going through the Tools menu.

To access a wiki via a content area:

  1. Go to your course home page.
  2. Click on the content area (e.g., Course Documents, Assignments) in the course menu.
  3. Browse the sub-folders, if any.
  4. Click the View link for the wiki.

To access a wiki via the Tools menu:

  1. Click on Tools or Communication in the course menu.
  2. Choose Campus Pack Collaboration Space.
  3. Under Content, click on the name of the wiki you wish to access.

Contributing to a Wiki

After you have created a wiki, you can add text, hyperlinks, images, and embedded media.

  1. Open the desired wiki and (if editing a page) the page you wish to edit.
  2. Click the Add New Page link in the wiki sidebar or the Edit link to the right of the page title.
  3. Type directly into the space provided or select the icons at the top to paste text from Word (clipboard with W), insert a hyperlink (chain), add an image (tree), or embed media (filmstrip). See a complete list of icons in the visual text editor.



  4. Save changes when done. This will post your content to the wiki.

A PDF handout with this information is available for instructors who wish to share it with their students in class or via their Blackboard site.

Site Navigation

Your page title will display along the right side under Site Navigation. For easier navigation, consider adding a link from the main page. To do this:

  1. Click on the chain icon to add a link.
  2. Select Link to an existing page.
  3. Scroll through the list and select the appropriate page title.
  4. Press Submit to create the link, and Save to save your changes.

Enabling, Viewing and Adding Comments to a Wiki

Enabling Comments

Comments in Campus Pack 4 are a widget that instructors can add to a wiki. To enable comments:

  1. Click on Widgets.
  2. Look for the Viewer Comments widget. If it is already on the In Use tab, choose what type of comments is desired and click Finish.
  3. If Viewer Comments does not appear on the In Use tab, click on Available, locate Viewer Comments in the list, and click the Add button. Once Viewer Comments appears on the In Use tab, click Finish to save your changes.

    enabling wiki comments

Viewing Comments

  1. Scroll down to the bottom of the wiki. The Viewer Comments link in the bottom left will display the number of comments, for example "Viewer Comments (3)".
  2. Click on the Viewer Comments link to view comments.

    viewing wiki comments

Adding Comments

  1. Scroll down to the bottom of the wiki page.
  2. Click on the Viewer Comments link.
  3. Click in the Add a comment... field to type your reply.
  4. Click on the Post button to post your comment.

    adding a wiki page comment

Viewing Wiki History

Reviewing history allows you to view all the revisions made to any wiki page, to compare changes between different versions of the page, and to revert to any previous version.

To view wiki history:

  1. Open the desired wiki page.
  2. Click the History link to the right of the page title.
  3. Select a version by clicking on the version's line in the table and click View to see that version.
  4. To compare versions, use the control key to select multiple pages and click Compare.
    • Green highlight indicates text has been added.
    • Yellow highlight indicates text has been modified.
    • Red highlight and strikethrough indicate text has been deleted.
  5. Click the Go Back button to return to the page history.

Monitoring Participation

By reviewing participation, you can access student contributions to a wiki by total pages edited, total views, total comments, total revisions or total words edited.

  1. Click on the Assessment link at the top of the page to view the activity summary for the wiki.
  2. To view details for an individual participant, click on the participant's name and Evaluate Participant.
  3. Click on Go Back to return to the list of contributors.

Groups

How to Create Groups

The Groups feature allows Instructors and students to create groups of students within a Course. These Course Groups have their own area on Blackboard to collaborate on course work. These spaces are equipped with tools that can assist in this collaborative process including file sharing and Group Assignments.  Additionally, blogs, wikis, and other resources can be created in the course site's main content areas and access restricted to a specific group. 

Instructors can create a single group or multiple groups in which students can be enrolled automatically, manually, or by allowing the students to enroll themselves. Instructors do not need to be enrolled in groups to access content or interact with group members, and if an instructor enrolls themselves in 10 groups or more Blackboard will produce error messages of "not implemented" when the course site opens. To avoid this problem, we do not recommend that instructors enroll themselves in groups.

Please note that not all the tools in Groups are currently available. Both the journal and the blog have been disabled system wide, so to avoid confusion, we recommend un-checking the boxes for blogs and journals when setting up Groups. If you wish to set up journals or blogs limited to member of a group, we recommend doing this through the blog tool.

users and groups

How to Enroll Course Group Members Randomly

  1. Click Users and Groups on the Control Panel;
  2. Click Groups;
  3. Select "Random Enroll" from Create Group Set drop-down list;
  4. Enter the Group Information, Tool Availability, Module Personalization Settings, and Membership preferences;
  5. Click Submit.
How to Enroll Course Group Members Manually
  1. Click Users and Groups on the Control Panel;
  2. Click Groups;
  3. Select "Manual Enroll" from either the Create Single Group or Create Group Set drop-down lists.
  4. Enter the Group Information, Tool Availability and Module Personalization Setting.
  5. Select the students to enroll in the Group.
  6. Use the arrow buttons to enroll the selected students in the Group. OR Click Select All to select all eligible students and then use the arrow buttons to enroll all eligible students in the Group. OR Click Invert Selection to switch selected students in or out of the Group.
  7. Click Submit.
How to Use a Sign-Up Sheet to Enroll Course Group Members
  1. Click Users and Groups on the Control Panel;
  2. Click Groups;
  3. Select "Self-Enroll" from either the Create Single Group or Create Group Set drop-down lists;
  4. Enter the Group Information, Tool Availability and Module Personalization Setting;
  5. Select Sign-up Options and Group Options if appropriate;
  6. Cick Submit.

How to Restrict Access to Content by Group

  1. Create the desired blog, wiki, or content item. 
  2. Navigate to the title of the item.
  3. Click the double down arrows to the right of the title for more menu options.
  4. Select Adaptive Release.
  5. Under Membership, select the group(s) you wish to have access.   
  6. Submit.  This item will display only to those who have access. 

How to Create Sign-up Sheets

The Groups tool can also be used to create just Sign-up Sheets (separate from creating groups via Sign-up Sheet). Creating just a Sign-up Sheet provides a space where students can sign up but does not provide any of the collaborative tools available to a Group.

  1. Go to Control Panel > Users and Groups > Groups
  2. Select Create Single Group or Create Groups Set > Self Enroll
  3. Under Group Information add a name. 
  4. Toggle the Group Available dot to "Sign-up sheet only"
  5. Under 4) Sign Up Sheet Options give the sheet a name and instructions (optional)
  6. Enter a number for the "Maximum Number of Members."
  7. Check the box for "Show Members" if you want the students to be able to see who has already signed up.
  8. If you selected Create Group Set to make multiple sign-up sheets, also enter a value for 5) Group Set Options > Number of Groups.
  9. Finally make sure there is a Groups tool button or course link in your site where the students can go to access the Sign-up Sheet.
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