Spring 2021 Blackboard course sites coming Oct. 5

Learning Technology Solutions is excited to announce the availability of the Spring 2021 Blackboard Courses. The new course template provides a standardized menu structure to drive consistency across UIC courses and help students stay organized. This change was approved by the UIC LMS Governance Board at the September meeting.

When you see your Spring 2021 course shells on Oct. 5, you will see a template that includes a branded course “Welcome Page” and a pre-created “Course Menu” instead of the empty shell you have seen before.

If you have already created an online course using the Fall 2020 template or your own template, and you prefer to use that instead of the Spring 2021 template, simply request an empty shell by emailing us at LTS@uic.edu with the course CRN and course title and the subject line “Delete Course.” The LTS support team will replace the Spring 2021 template and give you an empty course shell.

If you copy your course from a previous semester, you can easily remove any duplicate links, tabs, or unwanted content, but if you are designing a new course, this course shell will provide you with the organization and the required elements of well-designed online course.

To provide a consistent experience for students taking multiple courses in the spring semester, please consider taking time to reorganize your content around the new template.

New Course Template

The welcome page in your course can be generic to UIC or specific to a particular department or college (if your college has requested one). The welcome page banner is tailored with college/department name, logos, and images to promote UIC initiatives, which can also help students feel connected to their college and part of a community.

Customizing the template is easy. Simply upload your syllabus to the “Syllabus and Policies” content area. Edit the “Getting Started” content section with information pertaining to your course. Then use the “Sample Week” to create your “Weekly Content.” Instructions on how to modify the weekly content are provided within the template.

Don’t have time to customize it now? No problem! Your students won’t see the course until you make it available, and because the sample content in the template is hidden, they won’t see it even if you make the course available.

If you are copying a course from a previous semester, be sure to delete any additional content areas. Deleting any unwanted tabs in the course menu is easy, too. You can safely remove any tools you are not planning to use in your class and add tools you will use. If you are unfamiliar with editing, adding, or deleting content in Blackboard, consult this knowledge article: https://answers.uillinois.edu/uic/106103

Wondering what the difference is between the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 template? Based on feedback and observed user experience of the Fall 2020 template, the Spring 2021 template retains the course menu links of the Fall 2020 template but removes the 60 pre-created assessment placeholders in the 15-week format in weekly content for instructors’ ease and convenience in “Grade Center.” The weekly content folder still, however, holds a template for recommended links and directions about how to create assessments.

With a standardized navigation bar, students can get acclimated to course structure to easily find what they need. Instructors can edit their course menu, but providing a standardized menu structure will drive consistency across UIC courses and help students stay organized.

We hope you find the new Blackboard Course template useful and beneficial to your courses. Please contact LTS@uic.edu with any questions or suggestions.

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