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Semester Startup Checklist

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Semester Startup Checklist

Semester Startup Checklist

It has been said the busiest time of the year for faculty members teaching traditional classes is the last week of school. On the other hand the busiest time for online faculty is the first week of school.

At BridgeValley our Blackboard LMS is integrated with our Banner system, which means that as soon as the next semester courses are entered into banner a course shell will also be created in Blackboard. The instructor of record and enrolled students will automatically be placed in Blackboard from the banner system.

Although the course is created and students entered, the LMS locks student access until the first day of the semester. Faculty will have access immediately and can start working with the new section as soon as it appears. Here are a few things online faculty need to do to get their previously taught online class ready for a new semester.



Before Your Class Begins…

  • Copy your Blackboard section (if you have taught your course in Blackboard previously and want to reuse the same materials for the upcoming term). Instruction to Move Content from Semester to Semester
  • Change the Syllabus
    • Using word make changes to the old syllabus
    • Save the updated syllabus as a PDF document
    • From the designer view go to where the old syllabus is deployed to students.
    • Click the action link to the right of the syllabus name and choose Overwrite File from the popup menu.
    • Upload the new PDF Syllabus.
    • Double check your course link to make sure the new syllabus is available to students.
  • Change all Due Dates
    • Change due dates in the course for all course tools such as assignments, discussion, Announcements, etc… (These dates reflect in the students’ ToDo list and will show up as past due if they are not changed.)
    • With the new Date Manager updating Due Dates is much easier.
    • Go to Control Panel> Course Tools> Date Manager
    • If you have never run date manager before you will need to click Run Date Manager> List all Dates for Review> Start.
    • Once the process is complete click Next.
    • Select the Pencil to the right of each item to change the dates.
    • Once all the dates have been changed click the Refresh button at the top right of the screen and Blackboard will send you an email with all the new dates.
  • This process will change dates for…
    • Calendar
    • Assignment
    • Quizzes
    • Discussions
    • Announcements
    • Selective Release items
    • and any other dated item
    • If a date is missing from the list of available items you will need to go to that individual item and add the date. After that is complete the item should appear in the date manager.
  • Hide/Reveal Selected Content
    • All items including exams, modules, assignment, etc. can be hidden in BB9
    • In the designer view click the Action Link beside the name and select Edit
    • Check to make sure Permit Users to View this Content is set properly to make it available or unavailable to students.
  • Check The Grade Book For Unwanted Columns
    • Sometimes a lot of unwanted columns appear in the grade book such as Totals, Weighted Totals, and extra Start Here columns
    • To remove them click on the Control Panel> Grade Center> Full Grade Center
    • Identify the column you want removed and click on the Action Link in the column header and select Delete Column
    • If there is no delete option, it means the column is attached to a tool such as discussion or quiz. In order to remove that column you will need to go to the tool and delete or edit the assignment. If you want to keep the assignment but remove the column in the grade book, you simply make the assignment not gradable.
    • You Can Now Delete The Column In The Grade Book
    • You can now return to the full grade center and delete the column.
    • To organize the order in which the columns appear to instructors and students
    • Go to the Full Grade Center and click Manage> Column Organization
    • Click the four headed arrow on the left of the screen and drag the columns in the order you want them displayed
    • Make sure to click Submit after arranging the order of column or you will lose the changes.
  • Check The Discussions For Previous Semester Post
    • Click on Discussions
    • You should see a list of Forums; to the right of each forum you should see Total Post. If there are post click on the Forum Title to enter the forum
    • In the Column title row select the checkbox to select all post
    • Click the delete button to remove unwanted post
    • This must be done for all forums that contain unwanted post.
  • Check Course Menu For Dual Tools
    • When copying a course from one semester to the next you will sometimes find dual tools on the course menu.
    • Most often Homepage, Start Here, Tools, and Help will be duplicated, but others may be as well
    • To remove click the action link beside the unwanted item and click Delete
  • Organize the Course List on the Blackboard Homepage
    • When you first log onto Blackboard 9 where you see your list of courses, on the My Courses Title bar module, click on the round icon on the right of the screen.
    • On the Edit Course List page you can hide courses by unselecting the course.
    • You can also change the order the courses appear on your home page by clicking and dragging the course up or down the list of courses.
    • When completed click the Submit button.
  • Review your course content and fix any broken hyperlinks, images, etc.
  • Update your course calendar. Many faculty use the “Calendar” tool to help students see important due dates. Others prefer to include that information on their syllabus or on a stand-alone web page. Regardless of location, busy students appreciate having this information!
  • Merge your course sections, if applicable. If you are teaching two sections of a course you can have the students to appear in one section. This process will keep you from having to maintain content in two separate areas. To have your courses merged please contact the Director of Digital Learning.


Next week I will cover tips for the first week of the semester.


Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

January 5, 2016 at 9:00 am

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