Beginning of the Semester Blackboard Checklist

Confirm Your Course Is in Blackboard

Contact your department scheduling coordinator if you do not see the course. Your department scheduling coordinator can be found on the Office of the University Registrar's website.

Access Your Course and Verify Edit Mode is ON

Edit Mode allows Instructors to make changes to course content, the course menu and to work with various course tools.

Copy a Previous Semester's Course

If you are teaching the same course this semester that you have taught previously (or someone else in your department is willing to share their course with you), consider copying that course into the current semester course. Instructions for How to Copy a Blackboard Course.

Once a course copy is complete:

  • Remove any unnecessary links, content, grade center columns, etc.
  • Check all course links, tool links, web links, and file links to confirm they work properly
  • Add, update and/or remove date restrictions and due dates in content areas, assessments, assignments, discussion forums, etc., or run the Blackboard Date Management tool
  • Add, update and/or remove adaptive release rules in content areas, assessments, and assignments
  • Fix ERRORS on the Respondus LockDown Browser Dashboard page.

Verify the Course Menu Items and Tools

Make sure that the course menu includes items and tools that you wish to use and, if necessary, rename, modify, hide, show, or reorder them. Turn off any tools that are accessible by your students that you won't be using in your course.

To turn off extraneous tools:

  • On the course menu, click on Tools
  • Select Hide Link next to each tool

Review all Gradable Items

Make sure the questions, instructions, points, etc. of all assignments, tests, discussion forums, blogs, journals, and wikis) are still valid and correct.

Set up your Grade Center

Grade center allows students to keep track of their grades throughout the semester so they know exactly where they stand:

  • Remove manually created Grade Center columns no longer being used
  • Set up the Weighted Total and/or Total column
  • Confirm Blackboard's grading schema matches the schema for your department
  • Hide Grade Center columns from students that you don't want them to see
  • Check Column Organization for hidden columns that you may want to view in the Grade Center
  • Delete duplicate Grade Center columns.

Enroll Others in the Course

Enroll all other Instructors, TA's, Course Builders, Graders, and Guests into the course. You must change additional settings if using Guest Access. See Instructions for How to Set up Guest Access in Blackboard.

Upload a Current Syllabus

Be sure to verify your contact information, textbook information, etc. Visit the Center for Teaching & Faculty Excellence website.

Review Browser Support, Devices, and Operating Systems

Make sure that your web browser, devices, and your operating system is compatible with Mason's version of Learn by visiting the Blackboard website.

Create a Practice Area

If using additional tools such as Collaborate Ultra or Respondus Monitor, create a practice area where students can test their computer before they need to use the tool in your course.

Select the Course Entry Point

The course entry point is the first area users see when they enter your course. The default course entry point is the Home Page.

Enable Statistics Tracking in Content Areas and Assignments

Statistics Tracking (track number of views) allows educators to view statistics on content items seen by course users at the content area level.

Instructions for How to Turn On Statistics Tracking for a Content Item.

Setup or Update your Blackboard Profile

The Blackboard profile is not the same as your Mason user account. A profile shows how you want to present yourself to your peers and students in your course. In your Blackboard profile, you decide what you want to be called, share your academic interests, a profile picture, and more. View the Blackboard Profile and Privacy Settings.

Organize Your Course List

Consider hiding courses that are from previous semesters, grouping your courses by semester, or rearranging your course list.
See instructions for How to Hide Courses in the Course List.

Make Your Course Available to Students

Post a welcome announcement to your course, including contact information, office hours, etc. and then send it to your students by email and let them know your Blackboard course is now available.

Instructions for How to Make Your Course Available to Students.

Instructions for How to Send a Message or Email your Students with Blackboard.

Optional Items

Register for Blackboard Workshops

Workshops are available at workshops.gmu.edu.

Set up Qwickly Attendance

If you intend to use Qwickly Attendance, set up Attendance on the Attendance Settings page. See Instructions for How to Set up Qwickly Attendance.

Submit a Course Combine Request Form

To have two or more sections of the same course combined in Blackboard, submit a course combine request form. To combine two different course numbers (e.g., PSYC-490-001 and PSYC-590-001), you usually must contact your department's scheduling coordinator to have the courses cross-listed in Banner. This will automatically create a combined course in Blackboard. To combine multiple sections of the same course, complete the Course Combine Form. Learn more about Combined Sections.

Create a Welcome Video with Kaltura

Kaltura is a video management tool that allows faculty and students to easily create, host, and share video and audio inside the Blackboard course environment. See How to Record a Video in Kaltura Using a Webcam.

Create Course Groups

Encourage student collaboration by creating course groups. Confirm that all students are assigned to groups after drop/add period ends. See Blackboard's instructions for how to create and manage groups.

Place Items on Reserve at Mason Libraries

Go to the University Libraries website to place items on reserve. Note that e-Reserve links are associated with your course CRN and cannot be reused or copied from or to another course.