The Central Course Blog and Blackboard Blogging Tools The Central Course Blog is accessed through the Tools option of your module menu (assuming you haven’t made it unavailable that is), or from the Course Tools Link. Either route takes you to the same screen of tools and if you scroll down you find the Blog Tool: Both you, as an instructor, and your students can access this. You, as the instructor, can post to it ands students can read and comment on it. Before it is used though, it has to be set up. If you try to access it before it is set up, you get told it hasn’t been configured. To configure the Central Course Blog tool, you need to access the control panel. Configuring the Central Course Blog Click on the link to the Control Panel: Then on Configure Blog Tool: You then get a page full of options (see over page), most of which are reasonably self explanatory, for you to set as you wish. By default, instructors are the only ones able to post to the central course blog, but this can be over ruled to allow students to make entries also. You can allow students to comment on it too. Be careful of turning on the RSS feed option. Currently this is turned off across the Blackboard system, but if it is ever turned on and you have enabled it for your course blog too, suddenly your blog will be open to the world ! Also be careful of allowing deletion of anything … Once you are happy, click OK and you’ll get a message telling you it is done. Now when you click on the Blog tool (from tools – see above) you are presented with the blog. Pretty, it is not … it is built more for function than for aesthetics ! There won’t be anything there to start with. There is a good help facility linked to from the question mark icon at the top right. Essentially though, you make a post by clicking on the new entry link: And then you get a WYSIWYG editor to make your post in, clicking on “Save” when you are done. You, can edit your post with the set of links that appear (to you) above your new post: You and your students (assuming you have allowed them to do so) can make comments on your post, by clicking the comment link below the post. It opens up another editor panel to make the comment. Once comments have been added, the “comments” link changes to reflect the number of comments made. Setting up Group Blogs and Private Journals In addition to the central course blog, you can set up as many Group Blogs (everyone can see everything) and Private Journals (each student can see their contribution and the instructors’ contributions, but not the other students’) as you like within content areas. To do this, go to one of your content areas, either through the control panel or from the main menu and then click (top right) to go into “edit view”. Once there, click on the dropdown list next to Select and choose Blog from the list. Then click on Go. You are then taken to a page with many similar options (and quite a few additional ones) to the Central Course Blog Configuration screen. You give it a name and a bit of explanatory description if you want. The blog needs to be available for anyone other than instructors to see it. The Blog type … as above and a bit more description is given by the options. Careful again of RSS in this context. Next, you choose who is to be a member (who can access it and post to it) of the blog. Often this will be all course members, but you also get the option to have groups (set up in the group manager – Control Panel) or individuals. There are then some options about who can see, make and delete comments, some editing availability settings, whether to allow non members in and lastly whether you want a grade book entry to enable you to grade students efforts. Click OK and the blog is created with functionality as for the Central Course Blog.
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