Three ways to Customise a Course

A typical Blackboard course contains many items located all in one place. It can be initially overwhelming or you may find it difficult to find items you specifically need for your course. However, a few simple customisations can help you to easily rearrange or access content based on your personal preferences.  

There are a number of ways you can customise the look of a module within Blackboard. This article includes 3 such options. You could:

Prerequisite

To be able to customise a course, editing permission within a Blackboard Learn environment is required. This is typically provided via the Instructor or Teaching Assistant role. The customisations discussed in this article do not require System Administrator access and are designed to be non-technical.

Adding Menu Items

In the Course Tour section, we had a look at the default course menu. However, it is really simple to add additional menu items, which are linked to content areas.

To add a new menu item, simply hover over the + symbol at the top of the menu and choose Add Content Area. Name it, make it available to users by checking the box, and drag the new menu item to wherever you choose (see animation).

You can access these content areas to add content by clicking on their titles.

Setting the Course Entry page

This section outlines the steps to create a customised Course Entry page for a Blackboard course.

By default, the Blackboard Course Entry/Landing page (the first content that a visitor to your course will see) is set to Announcements. You may decide to set a different page as the Course Entry, eg. a Welcome page, the Course Overview page, or any of your choosing. To make your chosen page the Entry Point of your Blackboard course:

  1. Navigate to your Blackboard Control Panel, and expand the Customisation section.  
  2. Choose Teaching Style from the expanded options.
  3. Scroll down to the section Select Course Entry Point, and from the Entry Point dropdown list, select your chosen "[Syllabus]" page. Click Submit.

Only pages with content will be visible to select from the dropdown list.

You may find that your new entry point is not shown immediately. Click the refresh button of your web browser. This will make the browser see the new entry point.

This page will now be the first page, visitors/Students will see when they enter the course.

Adding a Banner

This section outlines the steps to create a customised banner for a Blackboard course. The banner will appear at the top of the Course Entry page.

Why use a Visual Banner

Purposeful visual content can have a dramatic impact on communicating a meaning/context. A Course Banner can be used to personalise the design of your Blackboard course for students, for programme, or have it appear more in line with your school or college's branding/design. It can also assist with initial impressions, and enhance the Course site so that it appears more 'professional', welcoming, and up-to-date.  

The banner will be placed at the top of the Course Entry page, above the Content Area. 

Image Dimensions, and Format

The following are suggestions for a Blackboard Banner image dimensions and format:

  • The image can be created in any image editor (e.g. Photoshop, Powerpoint, or Canva).
  • The exported format should be either .JPEG, .PNG (larger than JPEG files, but of higher quality. With .PNG the background is also transparent).
  • Blackboard recommends banner dimensions of 480 x 80 px (for viewing on variety of devices). The image is centred across the Content Area. An alternative is using 1500 x 180 px as the maximum size for a Banner. The banner will stretch across the full width of the Content Area.
  • Images that are wider than they are high tend to work best for Course banners.
  • Blackboard is responsive, so the Banner will be resized on your device.
  • Image resolution should be 72 or 150 ppi/dpi (for web-only images).
  • The final filesize should be no greater than 2MB (to help with download speeds).
    • Enable a Compress File Size if your chosen image editor allows.

How to Add the Banner

Customising your Course Entry page by adding a banner is a relatively straightforward visual update. You can create your own, use an solo image, or use a open-source/free web-based Banner creator. To add an image as a banner to your Blackboard course:

  1. Navigate to your Blackboard Control Panel, and expand the Customisation section.  
  2. Choose Teaching Style from the expanded options.
  3. Scroll down to the section Select Banner, and Browse Local Files to select your preferred image, and click Open.
  4. Add some Alternate text that describes what someone who cannot see the image should know about it.
  5. Click Submit.

Your new banner will now be visible on your Course Entry page.

Selecting a Banner image file

Examples of Banners

The following examples were made using various graphical packages, including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Canva, and PowerPoint.

Examples of banners

For further information about module customisation, reference the Blackboard support site.