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Updated Course Menu for Blackboard Original Course View Debuts in Time for Fall 2020 Course Requests

Starting July 10, 2020, you will be able to request Blackboard courses for the fall semester for any course that starts the week of August 24 (i.e., the start date in MyNIU is August 24, 2020). While course requests usually open 100 days prior to the start date of the course, this was reduced to 45 days temporarily to allow time for changes to course offerings in MyNIU. Here are a few new features and reminders for building your course in Blackboard.

Updated Course Menu in Original Course View

In keeping with the Flexible Teaching approach that incorporates practices to support student success regardless of course modality, the default menu in Original Course View has been updated with a few new areas. You can still customize your course menu to suit your teaching style and course structure, so this is just the starting point for your course.

default course menu in Ultra Course ViewWelcome Page
The Welcome Page is the new course entry point (if you leave it empty or delete it, the Home Page will be the course entry point instead). This is a great way to establish the first impression that students have of your course and help them focus on what to do first. Consider including a welcome message, a course intro video, and a checklist of how to get started. Check out this Getting Students Started checklist for more ideas of what to include on the welcome page.

Your Instructor
The new Your Instructor content area replaces the former Contacts link. Contacts was very restricted in what you were able to post. Your Instructor allows you to share more information, such as your contact information, office hours, and some details about yourself. Consider sharing photos, your professional bio, or information about your hobbies and interests. Sharing some basic personal information will help students feel more connected to you, even if you are not meeting face-to-face.

Media Gallery
This link directs students to the Kaltura Media Gallery for your course. If you are storing your course media in Kaltura, this will give students a single library of all of your videos. We still recommend embedding them directly in your weekly/module/unit folders for ease of access, but this provides another means for students to access these videos.

Ultra Course View


As you build your course for fall 2020, consider trying out the Ultra Course View. It has a cleaner, more modern design, easy-to-use workflows, and powerful new tools. In the last year, it has also been updated with many new features, like Journals, controlling visibility of correct answers on tests, and self-enroll groups. You can learn whether Ultra is right for you, try out Ultra, watch some tutorials on the Ultra experience, or attend an upcoming workshop.

Copy Materials Into Your Course

If you started building your upcoming course in a Shell due to the delay in course requests, you can easily copy your materials in to the Course, once you have requested it. Learn more about copying courses.

New Course Templates

Not sure where to start with building your course? We have new course templates that might help! The templates provide a structure and some prompts to help you build a course that is easy for students to navigate and provides support for them throughout the course. Interested in trying one out? Request a shell (so that you can make sure you like it before you add it to your course) and then reach out to us via the Ask a Question form to let us know you would like us to load the course template in your shell (be sure to include the course ID, like UNIV 300, for the shell!). The templates are available for either Original or Ultra Course View, so let us know which version you would like us to share with you.

Need More Assistance?

Check out the Flexible Teaching website for resources and support on face-to-face, online, and hybrid teaching, including strategies and technical resources to help you get started. You can also schedule a consultation or call or text our support hotline at 815-797-2477 to work individually with a member of our team online or over the phone. Attend an upcoming workshop or register for the final offering of our Online Course Design Academy, starting July 27, 2020.

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