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  5. Blackboard – 2023 / 2024 Prepare for the new academic year

Blackboard – 2023 / 2024 Prepare for the new academic year

Staff Guide: This is a quick guide to finding and preparing your courses for the next academic year, including a new course checklist.

Find your 23-24 Blackboard courses

Select “Courses” from the menu on the left.

Screenshot of a Blackboard courses page with navigation and headings highlighted in red boxes.
Screenshot of a Blackboard courses page with navigation and headings highlighted in red boxes.

Your 23-24 courses should appear under the term “2023-24” but some may appear under different headings such as “Faculty of Medicine”, “Presessional” or “2023-24 BM….”.

You can use the search bar to find a course by name or ID, and you can favourite your most visited courses so they appear at the top of the page.


Blackboard setup and staff enrolments

Check your personal course enrolmentsCan you see all the courses you expect to be teaching on, and do you have the right level of access?

If you are teaching on a course and need instructor-level access, please contact your faculty CQA team and ask them to add you to the modules in Worktribe/CRUMS. This will update your access in Blackboard.

Guide: Staff access to Blackboard
Request new coursesMissing any non-standard courses?

Teaching courses are automatically created from information in Banner and Worktribe. You may need to request new course sites for non-standard courses only.

Guide: Different types of Blackboard courses and how to request them
Personalise BlackboardWant to change your notifications and course list view?

Check your notification settings and organise your list of Blackboard courses so you can easily find your “favourites”.

Guide: Update your notification settings
Guide: Find and organise your list of courses in Blackboard: Favourites

Blackboard Course checklist

User Management

Check staff and student enrolmentsAre colleagues, teaching assistants and students appearing correctly on the course?

There should be no need to manually add students to a course. Students and teaching staff should be enrolled via Banner enrolments.

The course role of Instructor and Teaching Assistant is reserved for staff directly teaching students.

Guide: Blackboard course enrolments and how to add users with the appropriate course role
Do you need to merge course enrolments?Are you teaching the same content across two courses?

You can merge multiple Blackboard courses into a single “Parent” course where teaching is delivered. Module Leads can now use the Blackboard Course Manager app to view, create and remove merged courses.

Guide: An overview of merged courses and how to manage and request them
Create GroupsDo you need to release content to groups of students, or use marking groups?

Use groups in Blackboard for sign-ups sheets, for students to use collaborative tools together, or for staff to use as marking groups.

Guide: Getting Started with Groups

Organising your course content

Re-use course contentWant to copy content from one Blackboard course to another?

Do not “roll over” Turnitin Assignments. Create these new each time.

If you have uploaded learning objects such as SCORM, Articulate and zip files please make sure you copy over the “entire course home folder” during rollover.

Guide: How to copy (rollover) content from another course
Check viewing permissions for Recorded Sessions and other video contentUsing videos from a previous year or course?

A new version of Panopto will be released in June. Please do not provision your Panopto folders for 23-24 until July 2023.

Videos that are embedded in your course content or in the “Recorded Sessions” area may need to be “rolled over”. This ensures that the correct cohort of students have viewing permissions even for older content.

Guide: Rolling over Panopto videos
Review the course menuCan students find their way around the course?

Make your course easy to navigate – try to stick to the standard course menu so students have a consistent experience between courses. Make sure students can find their marks, groups and discussion boards by adding “Tool Links”.

Guide: Edit your course menu and navigation
Guide: Create a tool link in your course menu
Check the information in the Module ProfileWhat is the “Module Profile” page and why has it been added to your Blackboard courses?

A “Module Profile” page is included as part of the 23-24 course template. The Module Profile page displays module information held in Curriculum Manager (CRUMS/Worktribe) and is automatically populated.

Contact: Your Faculty CQA office to update information in the Module Profile.
Add content to Module InformationWhat is the “Module Information” page and why has it been added to your Blackboard courses?

A “Module Information” page appears in your 23-24 course as part of the standard template. This is a blank page we recommend you add module-related content to. You do not need to duplicate information already found in the Module Profile. You could include:

• the kind of feedback students may receive
• timetabling information
• student groupings
• list any specialist equipment that students need
• link to online module evaluation
• link to the NSS
• Netiquette

Guide: Blackboard Baseline
Add Staff informationWhat is the “Staff Information” page and why has it been added to your Blackboard courses?

A “Staff Information” page appears in your 23-24 courses as part of the standard template. Use this page to add contact details of key staff members.

Guide: Adding or updating Staff Information
Create and link to your Reading ListWhat happens to your Talis Reading List and how to make changes to it?

Talis Reading lists will be “rolled over” on 6th June. There is no need to make a copy of your 2022/23 lists as they will be automatically copied to any new modules.

You can make changes to your existing 2022/23 list, any changes you make will then be copied over to your 2023/24 list as part of the rollover. 

Guide: Create a Reading List
Guide: Add your reading list to Blackboard
Ensure Past Exam Papers are availableWhat is the “Past Exam Papers” area and why has it been added to your Blackboard courses?

Past Papers automatically links to the library’s past paper database for your module. Contact the Library if you would like to add past papers to the database.

Contact: Digital Scholarship team
Add weekly folders to the course content area and organise your contentAdding new content? Ensure it is accessible!

The CHEP Blackboard Baseline provides recommended minimum standards for course site structure and organisation within Blackboard.

Guide: elearn staff guides for Blackboard
Guide: Take inspiration from past VLE award winners
Organise and tidy the Grade CentreStudents will see all visible Grade Centre columns via their Marks view.

Keep the TOTAL column hidden and hide or delete grade centre columns for assignment that are no longer relevant.

Guide: Organising the Grade Centre
Ensure your content is accessibleIs your Blackboard course as accessible as possible?

Please adhere to best practise in your Blackboard sites and take note of the “Blackboard Ally” indicators and reports as a guide on how you may improve accessibility in your course.

For more information, including an introductory webinar, see the Accessibility guide.

Guide: Accessibility
Join: Teams site for staff “Digital Accessibility Community of Practice”
Add a course bannerGive your course a clear visual identity.

You may wish to include an image that is relevant to your course or discipline or an image of campus.

Guide: Add or change your course Banner


Create formative and summative assessmentsAre you using Blackboard Tests and Assignments, Turnitin or eassignments?

Do not “roll over” Turnitin Assignments. Create new Turnitin submissions each time. Re-using older Turnitin assignments can cause lots of issues. If you do copy a Turnitin assignment from one course to another, rename it as “Do not use” and then hide it from students.

Guide: Assessment guides
Organise and tidy the Grade Centre
Students will see all visible Grade Centre columns via their Marks view.

Delete grade centre columns for assignments that are no longer relevant.

Guide: Organising the Grade Centre
Check the Grade Centre columns are hidden until neededAre the Grade Centre columns for upcoming assessments “hidden” from students to prevent release of marks before the post date?

Keep the TOTAL column hidden.
The Grade Centre controls mark visibility to students. It is important to check the Grade Centre visibility of each column, even if you have selected “do not release marks until post date” in the assignment settings. This will ensure that marks are kept hidden from students before you decide to release them.

Guide: Managing the students’ view of marks.

Release and review

Turn on statistics tracking or review status per content itemAllow students to “mark as reviewed”?

You can track the usage of individual content items or ask students to mark items as “reviewed”. These tools need to be enabled in advance per content item.

Guide: Use the Review Status tool for course content
Guide: How students review items
Guide: Track usage of individual content items
Use adaptive releaseHide and release content based on certain conditions?

You can release your Blackboard content and assignment based on conditions such as date and time or group membership.

Guide: Adaptive Release
Check accessibilityIs your course well-structured, with easy-to-access content and clear objectives?

Consider accessibility throughout the design of your course. This benefits all students. For example, you could:

– Use the Reading List tool to ensure that students can access fully licenced and alternative formats of the resources.
– Use Microsoft Accessibility checker on new documents you create.
– Note the Blackboard Ally score for your Blackboard content.
– Review your course Accessibility Report (under Course Tools).
– Download the Blackboard App to view your courses on a mobile device.

Guide: Accessibility
Check the course in student previewWhat do the students see?

Instructors can select the “student preview” button to view their courses as if they were a student. You can check the visibility of items and take tests.

Guide: Student Preview
Make your course availableStudents will be checking Blackboard ahead of the start of term!

New courses are created as “unavailable” or “private” so students. They cannot enter the course until an instructor makes it available. We recommend making your course available prior to the start of teaching to allow them to familiarise themselves with the course.

Guide: Make your course available

Communication and collaborate

Add your first announcement!Say hello!

Welcome students to your course. Let them know that the course is now open, and what they can expect. See the guide to understand how and when different types of announcements appear to students.

Guide: Announcements and communicating with students
Create a Class TeamsDo you want to use Microsoft Teams for teaching and collaboration?

Use the Microsoft Teams integration tool to create a Teams site associated with your Blackboard course. This will create a “Class Team” and will keep the student Team membership in sync with Blackboard/Banner enrolments.

Guide: Creating and using a Class Teams

Programme leads checklist

Request a Programme courseProgramme Courses can be used for information sharing and community-building at a programme level.

Create a Blackboard Programme Course to hold programme-level information and communication and create a sense of community. Student enrolments are automatically synced with Banner to enrol students on the correct programme code into the course.

Guide: Request a Programme Course
Check Programme course codesIf you have an existing Programme course – are there any new programme codes to include?

Students are auto-enrolled via Programme codes and new students will appear on the course after Banner rollover in August.

View existing Programme courses and check enrolment codes via the Blackboard Course Builder.
Refresh content and make available to studentsNew students will arrive soon, what will they see?

Existing Programme courses will be made unavailable on 1st August ahead of Banner rollover. Prepare your course content for 23-24 and make the course available for the next academic year.

If you only have time to do three things…

  1. Review your course menu. Keep it consistent.
  2. Organise your content into weekly folders
  3. Signpost where students can find their content and online sessions. Make it clear to students if live sessions will take place in Blackboard Collaborate, Teams or both, and include the dates, times and links to join.

Request a sandbox course
Did you know you can request a sandbox course? This is a blank blackboard course only you can see and access. Use this space to try out new things or build a draft template of your teaching courses.

Designing your courses

Please refer to the Blackboard Baseline for more comprehensive guidance. Some of the main points are summarised below:


Students appreciate clear intentions and a consistent format. We recommend:

  • Add a course banner to give your course a visual identity
  • Add all assessments to their own assessments area
  • Add all course content to a “Course Content” area
  • Within “Course Content”, organise all course content into weekly folders, or by theme/topic
  • Consistent structure for weekly content. For example:
    1. Recap of previous week
    2. This week introduction and learning objectives
    3. Content
    4. Reading List
    5. Resources for revision and independent practice
    6. Formative activity such as a test or discussion board


Your course template comes with an area for “Assessments”.

It is helpful for this to be a standalone content area, so that students can locate everything
they need in one place
. This section should include assessment briefs. You should also make it
clear to students how their assessment should be submitted (e.g. using Turnitin,
Blackboard or eAssignment).

Reading List

We recommend using the Talis Reading List toolStructure your reading list into “core texts” and weekly sections, or core texts and additional sections such as by topic or theme. Don’t forget to separate the “Essential” and “Further Reading” so that students are not overwhelmed.

Interactive tools

Make use of interactive tools such as discussion boardstests, quizzes to consolidate learning and create an engaging course.

Staff contacts

The list of staff enrolled on a Blackboard course can get confusing! How can students easily find their main point of contact and know how to approach them?

Use the staff contacts page to highlight the teaching staff, how to reach them and their contact hours.

What to avoid

  • Archives – You don’t need to copy over unused content from course to course. This uses a lot of storage and creates confusion duplicates of content. Please see the Blackboard retention policy for details of how older courses are stored or archived.
  • Complex folder structures – Keep your course content “flat” rather than “deep”. Limit yourself to 2 or 3 sub-folders.
  • Mobile inaccessible content – Be aware when you are embedding content that these may not work well on a mobile device. Embedded content should be “responsive” to resize automatically for mobile devices.

    You can download the Blackboard App to view your courses on a mobile device.
  • Poor copyright practice – Do not upload content without permission if you are not the copyright owner. Do not use images from the internet unless you know you are not infringing copyright or the image licence agreement (see our Banner Guide for image sourcing tips). Use a Talis Reading List to ensure that all the content on your reading list is accessible, available to students, and fully licensed.

Peer learning communities

Why not join these University of Southampton Teams sites:

Useful contacts

Faculty Hubs

Faculty teams can assist you with general advice, including updating student module enrolments and PAT allocation in BannerContact the Student Hub via ServiceLine.

CQA Teams

CQA Teams keep our curriculum manager platform CRUMS or Worktribe up-to-date. This powers information on the Module Profiles and Blackboard staff course enrolments.

Your CQA team are a good first contact if you are enrolled on the wrong courses, or need to check CRN information:

Centre for Higher Education Practice CHEP

The Centre for Higher Education Practice (CHEP) promotes academic professional learning for every member of University staff, in all areas of academic activity and at every stage of their career.

Working in partnerships with faculties, CHEP enables staff to reach their full potential and achieve more together.

Visit the CHEP website

Digital Learning

The iSolutions Digital Learning team works in close partnership with faculties to enhance student education using learning technologies.

Find out more about Digital Learning


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