I remember (a long time ago!) when you were stuck with the built-in navigation structure of Blackboard. You had to live with the menu items that were given you and structure your course around it. Well, for quite some time, you have the ability to rename menu items, delete them from the navigation bar altogether, and decide which of the menu items you want to appear first when your students enter your course site.
Therefore, you should really decide how you want your course to look and act, which features of Blackboard work for you, and then either rename, delete, or make new menu items. I would suggest outlining your course first, after you have a pretty good understanding of the various Blackboard features.
For instance, if you are teaching a large lecture course that consists mostly of online objective-based quizzes, course announcements, glossary items, and email, you might want to simply use the assignments, discussion forum, announcements, and email links, along with any other informative menu items such as faculty information. By keeping the number of links on the nav bar to a minimum and customizing the course menu, you can make it easier for students to find what they need.
Here are some common ways to customize your menu/navigation structure in Blackboard. I encourage you to play around with the Manage Course Menu feature to see what you can do with it. You might want to do this on a new site or a site that you are revising.
To Delete or Modify a Menu Item (You should have a plan with a flowchart or other type of outline that will help you organize your course menu before going through these steps):
- Go to Control Panel>Manage Course Menu (You will see all of the menu items that are currently listed on your course site.)
- If you want to delete a menu item, simply click “delete” to the right of that item.
- If you want to remove the menu item from your student’s view, but not delete it (you think you might want to use it again in the future), then select “modify.”
- Unselect all of the checkboxes below and then click “Submit” (See picture below)
- When you return to the Manage Course Menu dialog box, red letters will indicate that “This item is currently unavailable.” You also might want to assign a higher number to this item so it will appear at the bottom of your menu list. Visually this just makes it less confusing for me.
To Create a New Menu Item
- Go to Control Panel>Manage Course Menu
- Take a look at the various options you have for your course menu. You can add four different types:
- Click each of the types and see what options you have. As you can see, you can add what Blackboard calls “Content” or a Tool, Course link (this links to internal BB items), or an External Link (this would be a link to something outside of Blackboard, but would appear within the Blackboard frame of your course site.)
- You can name your menu item whatever you want. For instance, if you want to create a series of screen videos, you might want to name your menu item “Videos.” See the screen capture below to see how I did this:
- I selected “Content,” since this most accurately describes what the videos would be, but I could have selected “Course Materials” I suppose. Again, play around with this and then see how it appears on your course menu.
Once you’ve set up your customized menu, you then, of course, need to put material in that link. There are many ways to upload content, either as an attachment or as a link within Blackboard. I’ll write about that next week . . .