Blackboard TechTip: Consistent Navigation

When you are designing your Blackboard course site, you first need to design and include good content. That’s a given. But after you’ve done that, you have a lot of choices to make, such as your navigation structure, how your menu will look to your students, and many other decisions, such as a course banner.

One of the easiest ways to assist a student navigation your Blackboard course site is to have your links open in the same window (NOT a new window). There are many reasons for this, but the main one is that Blackboard is set up in multiple frames. Each frame is like a separate browser window. To the visual user, it looks like one big window, but to other students, such as those using a screen reader, it is like navigating through several windows. If a link opens in a new window, it REALLY adds to the confusion.

So, make sure that all of your links open in the same window, not a new window. Blackboard automatically defaults to opening in the parent frame (same window), but you might be copying and pasting HTML code that creates a new window from a link, so BE CAREFUL!

The fact that Blackboard automatically opens new links within the same page is very helpful to know, especially if you are directing your students to post on a group blog you are using for a class assignment, (such as The blog will appear in that main frame and your students won’t even realize they are going outside the course site. Their interactions with the blog will remain within the Blackboard frame. Your students shouldn’t get lost and will appreciate the convenience of staying within the Blackboard environment.

One more thing . . . if you are creating new windows for students to be able to print the webpage more easily (frames make printing a little tricky), then just tell them to right click (PC) and select “Open Link in New Window.” (This is Mozilla Firefox terminology).

If they are using an Apple, tell them to select Control, click (that’s the right click for Apple, if you didn’t know!) then select “Open Link in New Window.”

Remember, make sure that your students experience consistency when they are in Blackboard. It will make your life a lot easier.

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