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Blackboard contains all of your course information and is known as a Virtual Learning Environment, or 'VLE'. It is used by tutors (referred to as ‘Instructors’ on Blackboard) to deliver modules and learning support materials to students. Throughout these guides the term ‘course’ will refer to a University course or module, as Blackboard uses the word ‘course’ for both.

★★★ Click here to view a student video introduction to Blackboard ★★★

Accessing Blackboard

To access Blackboard you must have a University IT account.

There are two main routes into Blackboard:

  • Through the Student Hub which will automatically log you into Blackboard (preferred method) when you select the Blackboard tile
  • Directly to Blackboard where you will need to choose the correct login button for your account type and then enter your student number as your username (staff use network username) and your network password
    BBLogin, blackboard login buttons
  • I can't login?

    If you experience problems, for example you cannot log in, please check your login details and try again. It is surprising how many people type a wrong letter or character when in a hurry. If you enter your login details incorrectly 3 times, your account will be locked in order to protect you and your account from non-authorised people. Also check that the Caps Lock is not on - passwords are case-sensitive.

    If you can sign into the Student Hub, but not Blackboard, then there might be a problem with Blackboard.

    If you can't sign into any university systems then there may be a problem with your account, please contact the IT Service Desk (01228 888888) itservicedesk@cumbria.ac.uk

  • Home Screen and Tabs

    Once logged in, you will see a page similar to this:

    BBMyInstitution, screenshot of blackboard

    MyBb

    Your Blackboard landing page is called MyBb and contains:

    My Courses

    These are all of the modules and/or programmes that you are currently enrolled on. It is usual for you to be able to see some of your modules from previous years of study e.g. if you are in the 2nd year - your 1st year modules will often still be accessible.

    My Announcements

    All of your course, module and university Announcements in one place. These will often be messages from your tutors (events, room changes, suggested news stories or other timely reading, etc.).

    University Notice Board

    The University Notice Board is used to tell you about things that are either useful for or affect ALL students. At the time of writing, the University Notice Board is reminding you about your FREE access to LinkedIn Learning's vast catalogue of video-based online courses.

    Accessibility Statement

    We are trying to make everything we do, accessible to as many people as possible. This statement declares our intent and highlights any areas where we still have work to do.

    Students

    Bb_students_tab,

    The Students tab in Blackboard is very important and includes: 

    Student Support

    This block of coloured squares provides direct access to a wide range of library and academic skills support, Head Start and the Turnitin Test Area

    Quick Links to Forms

    Some useful forms and related information:

    • Extenuating Circumstances
    • Coursework Extension
    • Reassessments
    • Reassessment Papers

    Blackboard Profile Image

    How to add your own image or avatar to your Blackboard profile.

    UCSU

    The Students' Union welcome and information section. 

    Personalise Page

    This additional button, in the lower half of the top menu bar, allows you to choose the look and feel of your Blackboard.

  • Announcements

    The My Announcements content block collects all of your course and module Announcements together in a single place for easy reference.

    Blackboard Announcements are used by your tutors to deliver timely information to all of the students on a course. This may include last minute room changes, links to new articles, links to new research, tasks for you to complete and many other things.

    View My Announcements

    Blackboard Announcements can be easily accessed via these two locations:

    MyBb

    When you login to Blackboard - you are usually taken directly to the MyBb page. This is like a Homepage for your Blackboard experience. This area is split into content blocks (called Modules) and in the right-hand column - you will find the My Announcements content area:

    Bb_announcements,

    This area includes all of your Course Announcements, any Global University Announcements and the University Notice Board (used for important information for all students and staff).

    Course Announcements

    Most Blackboard courses are set to land on their own Announcement page when you visit them. This area will usually only include Announcements for that specific module or course. 

  • My Courses / Modules

    All of your modules in Blackboard are based on a template that provides some standardised sections. Your tutors may change some of these sections or section names to better suit the delivery of your course, but the left-hand menu in most modules will look very similar to this (NOTE: if the left-hand menu in your Blackboard module is not visible - please see Studying on a Small Screen to enable it):

      Menu ItemDescription
    Bb_module, Announcements All current announcements and messages for this module. 
    Module Information You will find within this section key information relating to this module. These include a module description, an overview of the topics to be covered and timetable information, together with the module specification document.
    Module Team Your tutors for this module and may include tutors who are associated with the module, but may not have directly taught your group. 
    Learning Materials This section contains the learning materials relevant to your module and consists of a range of resources, activities and tasks for you to complete either before, during or after your scheduled sessions. You should review this section regularly for the latest additions in order to give yourself the opportunity to access information or complete tasks in a timely manner. 
    Reading List OneList provides online access to reading and resource lists and electronic library materials. You can also view the availability of physical library items, add items from OneSearch to your personal collection, make suggestions, and add comments. 
    Discussions If your module is using online discussions then the menu will provide a link to the discussion forums in Blackboard. 
    Assessment Here you will find information relating to the assessment of this module and resources to help support your understanding of the process. This includes clear and concise details of the assessment tasks in the form of an Assessment Brief. You will also find your Turnitin submission links here.
    Collaborate Room Blackboard Collaborate is used for any online sessions you need to attend. There can be multiple Collaborate rooms available, so check for one that includes the date and time of your session. 
    Linkedin Learning Information and links to allow you to make the most from your free access to LinkedIn Learning. Explore, learn and gain certificates for each short course completed. 
    Research and Writing Tips The Skills@Cumbria team are here to help you with all of your academic skills.
    Module Evaluation Provide feedback on this module once it has been completed. This link may remain hidden until the final week(s) of the semester. 

    Where a tutor adds more items or tools to the menu such as Blogs, Wikis, Tests or external links - these will be explained by the tutor.

  • Assessment / Turnitin

    Most assessments completed as coursework are submitted to the university through Turnitin in Blackboard. These assessments are often written essays, but can also take other formats such as presentations and academic posters. You can find your assignment submission points in the main left-hand menu in each Blackboard module/course:

    Bb_assess,

    If the Assessment link is not available in your module menu, this is usually because your tutor(s) have not yet released your assignment submission points yet.

    Non-written Assignments

    If you are completing a non-written assignment such as a live presentation, a performance or piece of artwork - check your assignment criteria closely as there may still be a requirement to submit something through Turnitin such as a PowerPoint, transcript or reflective piece.

    Other tools for assessment in Blackboard include contributions to discussion boards, blogs or wikis (further guidance below).

    Turnitin

    The University uses Turnitin, a plagiarism detection and prevention database which will provide feedback to you on the similarity of your work compared with a worldwide collection of resources and previously submitted student work. Tutors will grade and comment upon your work within Turnitin. When all work for your group/module has been marked, provisional grades and feedback will be released for you to view within Blackboard.

    See Turnitin for more information about submitting your work, viewing the "originality" of the submission and retrieving feedback.

    You should also read about Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism.

     

    Final grades will not normally be confirmed until after an Assessment Board.

     

  • Blogs

    Blogs are a useful learning tool and allow you to work collaboratively and/or receive feedback comments from your peers and tutors.

    Blogs are often used for reflective writing and all posts are displayed in reverse chronological order, showing latest post to oldest.

    Your work on Blackboard is in a secure space and only those on the course can log in to see the course blogs.

    Starting your Blog

    To use the blogging tool, your tutor will need to set up a blog within Blackboard. This can be created for the whole course, for a smaller group or individual work. The tutor will also need to create a link and/or menu item for you to access the blogging tool.

    When you arrive at the blogging window, you will see the blog(s) that have been made available to you:

    Bb_blog_01,

    Click into the Blog and you will be able to create a new Blog post:

    Bb_blog_02,

    The Blog Entry window includes a lot of text tools for you to format your content and you can even add images/video to support your written words (adding a title is mandatory):

    Bb_blog_03,

    By Posting your entry, you have added to the Blog. This now appears on the front page of the Blog and is available for others to view and comment upon: 

    Bb_blog_04,  

    IMPORTANT NOTE: Once a Blog entry is posted to a Group or Course Blog, you do not have the ability to edit or delete it (only your tutor can do that), so you might want to compose all of your words externally in Word first - check the spelling, grammar and Referencing before you Post.

  • Discussions / Forums

    The discussion board is a tool for sharing thoughts and ideas about class materials. It is also used for Flexible Distributed Learning (FDL) to allow students and lecturers to discuss topics, research findings, assignments and reflection - from distant locations.

    Depending on how your instructor has set up your course, you access the discussion board from either the course menu or a course area, such as a content area, learning module, lesson plan, or folder. Your lecturer will tell you where it is located within your course.

    The main Discussion Board page displays a list of available discussion forums. A forum is an area where users discuss a topic or a group of related topics.

    The Blackboard discussion board allows for threaded discussions to take place in your Blackboard course. The board can be split up into Forums, which may be used to separate discussions on different topics. Within each forum users may post threads (as in “threads of a conversation”), which are the conversations themselves. A user may post a new thread (usually a question or statement calling for a response) and other users may then reply to that thread, creating a discussion.

    1: Main Discussion Board page

    When you have located the link to your Course Discussion Board - click on it to open the Main Discussion Board page.

    BB Discussions 1, screenshot of BlackBoard discussion board 

    A list of forums available will be shown. Click on the name of the forum to enter it.

    2: Threads

    You will be presented with a list of "threads". Threads are individual topics of conversation. A thread may have a number of messages within it - this is displayed to the right.

    Click on a thread to read it. 

    BB Discussions 2, screenshot of BlackBoard discussion board 

    3: Viewing a thread and the messages within

    You will be presented with a list of the messages in the forum. Note the way the replies are indented.

    Below the list of threads the first message of the thread is viewable, you may view other messages in the thread by clicking on them, or view more than one at a time by ticking a number of threads and clicking on Collect.

    BB Discussions 3, screenshot of BlackBoard thread detal page 

    4: Replying to a message

    You can reply to a message by clicking on the reply button.

    Note that it is possible to give a message a rating out of five if this has been enabled by the course instructor. If the instructor has enabled it you may use the quote button to reply to the post, including a quote from it.

    BB Discussions 4, screenshot of blackboard  

    5: Add a new thread

    You can start a new thread (i.e. a different topic), provided this has been enabled by the course instructor, by clicking on Create Thread.

    BB Discussions 5, screenshot of BlackBoard discussion board 

    6: Adding a message

    When you reply to a message or create a new thread a text box will appear into which you should type your message.

    BB Discussions 6, screenshot of blackboard discussion 

    7: Pasting from Microsoft Word

    Note that if you wish to paste a large amount of formatted text from Word it is recommended to either

    • try using the Paste from word button
    • or paste your text into Notepad and then paste into the text box

    BB Discussions 7, screenshot of BlackBoard discussion board 

    8: Submit message

    When you have completed your message - click on Submit.

    Note that clicking on Save draft will save a draft of your message, but no one will be able to view it. It is recommended to only use Submit.

    BB Discussions 8, screenshot of blackboard discussions 

  • Wikis

    A wiki is a webpage with multiple authors. At the University, wikis are often used as a way for students to work collaboratively when they are not necessarily in the same location.

    When using a wiki, students can edit, delete and create new pages. All edits on a page can be traced to the individual who made the change. You will also be able to comment on pages.

    Overview: The Wiki Page

    Almost every aspect of a wiki can be edited and you need to familiarise yourself with the different options. It is very hard to ‘break’ a wiki as all changes can be undone or changed again. So feel free to experiment with the buttons to see what they do.

    To get started making your wiki content, click on the edit button to the right of the page name.

    BB Wiki 1, screenshot of blackboard wiki 

    To find out information about your wiki look at the information bar on the right hand side of the screen detailing page names, contributors and activity. You can use tags to identify the content of your wiki page to other users. A tag is a keyword used to describe your page. The tags area to the right hand side of the screen includes all tags used in every page of the wiki and is a quick way to search all parts of the wiki.

    Overview: Comments

    To add comments to a page click into the comments area, add a title and your comment. As a student you will sometimes have permission to delete comments, this is not always the case. Think carefully before commenting on another student’s work and ensure that you are making constructive comments.

    BB Wiki 2, screenshot of blackboard wiki 

    Overview: The Wiki Editing Toolbar

    The best way to find out what the wiki toolbar buttons do is to experiment and see what is available. It is common practice with wikis to add links to pictures, files, websites and other pages within the wiki.

    BB Wiki 3, screenshot of blackboard wiki

    Help & Guides

  • Blackboard Ally - Accessibility

    We don’t all read and consume information in the same way as each other and this can be especially true when trying to digest new concepts or complex ideas.

    Blackboard Ally is a tool that supports your tutors in making all of their content accessible, but also allows you to view or hear documents in a range of alternative formats (PDF, HTML, ePub, Audio and Braille). Blackboard Ally is available in all modules in Blackboard.

    Blackboard Ally

  • Blackboard Mobile

    Blackboard App icon, blackboard pencil iconFinally, if you want to access Blackboard on your mobile: http://help.blackboardmobile.com, the Blackboard app is available for Android and Apple devices.

     

    Click on the following buttons to go directly to the App download from your App Store:

    Play Store button,

    App Store button, Apple 'download the app store' button

    Once installed, open the app and search for "cumbria", then select "University of Cumbria"

    Click “Web Login” and then “Click to Login” on the page that follows. This will take you to the University’s Sign-in Page. Enter your details and you will then be taken into the app.

    Blackboard App Help

    Blackboard Learn - the previous version of the Blackboard app was called Blackboard Learn. You may still have this app installed on your device, but it is no longer supported and does not work properly anymore. Please remove Blackboard Learn and install the new Blackboard App.

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