Division of Information Technology

Blackboard Learn

The Blackboard Learn environment allows you to easily navigate, provide data, edit items, and change options that affect how users interact with the interface.

The Blackboard Learn Interface


  1. Page header: The area at the top of the page that contains the tabs, the global navigation menu, and Logout. The tabs you see in the page header depend on your school's licenses.
  2. Tabs: Blackboard Learn includes two common sets of tabs, discussed in the following tables.
  3. Content frame: Displays the selected tool or content area. By default, when you enter a course, the Home Page appears. You select the first page called the course entry point.
  4. Course menu: The access point for all course content. You decide which links are available here.
  5. Control Panel: The central access point for course management functions. You can manage the course style, course tools, and users from this area. Student do not see the Control Panel.
  6. Action bar: Rows at the top of the page containing page-level actions such as Build Content, Search, Delete, and Upload. The functions on the action bar change depending on where you are in your course. The action bar can contain multiple rows of functions such as on the main Grade Center page.
  7. Edit Mode: When Edit Mode is ON, all the instructor functions appear, such as Build Content on the action bar in a content area or the appearance of contextual menus. When Edit Mode is OFF, you are viewing the page in student view. The Edit Mode function appears to users with a role of instructor, teaching assistant, course builder, and administrator.
Tab Description
My Institution The My Institution tab contains tools and information specific to each user’s preferences. Tools and information are contained in modules. You can add and delete modules from your My Institution tab. Your school may restrict access to or require specific modules.
Courses Click a link on the Courses tab to access a course, and the course catalog.

If your school licenses community engagement, you also have access to the following tabs:

Tab Description
Community The Community tab lists organizations specific to each user, the organization catalog for your school, and discussion boards. Click a link on the Community tab to access an organization.
Services The Services tab contains links to other institutional offerings outside of Blackboard Learn. The links are set by your school.

In addition, community engagement enables your school to create custom tabs and present different tabs to users based on institution roles.

Note: Your school can rename the tabs appearing in the page header.

The Page Header

The page header is the area at the top of the screen that contains the tabs, the global navigation menu, and logout.


The tabs you see in the page header depend on the capabilities your school has licensed. For example, if your school has licensed content management, you will see the Content Collection tab. The page header remains the same as you access other areas and courses in Blackboard Learn.

Note: Your school can rename the tabs appearing in the page header.

Using a link in the global navigation menu, users can also add an avatar image to use in their courses. Users can upload an avatar image that is a photo or a creation representing an alter ego. Avatar images appear throughout a course, such as in the page header, in the What’s New module, and with discussion, journal, and blog entries. The recommended pixel size for an avatar image is 150 by 150.

Your school determines if you may add avatar images. If your school has enabled the profiles feature, the images students upload to represent themselves override the avatar images uploaded here.

To learn about the components on the My Institution tab, see My Institution Tab.

Course-to-Course Navigation

In Blackboard Learn, when moving to a new area or page, only the material in the content frame changes. The tabs and header frame remain static so that they are always available for quick access to navigation features. When you want to navigate between your courses, you can use the Courses tab or the course-to-course navigation feature.


  1. Courses tab: You can access the list of courses you are enrolled in or teaching.
  2. Course-to-course navigation: If you are enrolled in or teach more than one course, you can access all your courses using the course-to-course navigation feature. Access the contextual menu next to the course title and select another course. For example, if you are viewing the Announcements page in one course and select another course from the contextual menu, you are taken to that course's Announcements page. You can easily go from one course's Grade Center to another to begin your grading tasks.

Note: Depending on the default theme your school uses, you may see the current course's title instead of a house icon.

Course Modules

On the My Institution tab, you see a collection of course modules that contain tools such as a calculator, or display dynamic information such as grades, alerts, and announcements. You can use the links in modules to navigate to areas in your courses. You can add course modules to module pages only, such as the My Institution tab or a course Home Page.

Note: Your school can rename modules and determines which are available.

To learn more, see Working With Modules and Common Notification Modules.


The Course Menu

The course menu appears on the left side of your course window. It is the cornerstone for the organization and navigation of your course. You create links on the course menu to present tools and materials to users. You can customize its appearance and order the links.

The course menu appears in a list view, which displays only the top level of course materials. Links can appear as buttons or text.

Click the Display in New Window icon icon to view the course materials as a directory tree in a new window. Users can expand the view to show the hierarchy of course navigation.

Note: Your school can restrict options to maintain a consistent style for all courses. This can include making some tools unavailable or setting permanent course area names.

Use the following steps to create a link on the course menu.

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON and point to the plus sign above the course menu. The Add Menu Item drop-down list appears.
  2. Select the type of content to create.
  3. Type a Name for the link. Complete any other required text boxes, such as URL for Web Link.
  4. Select the Available to Users check box to enable users to see the link on the course menu. You can create content ahead of time, make it unavailable, and then make it available at the appropriate time.
  5. Click Submit. A link to the new content appears on the course menu.

Note: Create an uncluttered course menu to maintain efficient navigation for your users, and try to limit the number of links included in the course menu. Use content areas to hold related items and give your course organization and structure.

The following table lists the types of content and tools you can include on the course menu. You can also include subheaders and divider lines to help visually organize the links for your users.

Type Description
Content area Content areas are the top-level course areas. They hold all of your course materials. You create, link, and manage them on the course menu. Typically, courses contain multiple content areas. After you create a content area, you add content to it, such as online lectures, multimedia, tests, and communication tools. To learn more, see Creating Course Areas for Content.
Blank page The Blank Page tool allows you to include files, images, and text as links on the course menu. Include blank pages on the course menu for critical information, as too many links on the course menu can overwhelm students. Remove blank pages from the course menu as soon as the information is no longer needed.
Tool link Create a link to an available tool in your course, such as the calendar or journals. You can also create a link to the Tools page.
Course link Create a shortcut to an existing area, tool, or item in a course.
Web link Create a link to a URL to provide quick access to a resource on the internet.
Module page Create a module page and select the individual modules to include. The modules you select can be tools, such as a calculator, or the modules can display information, such as grades, alerts, and tasks.
Subheader A subheader is unlinked text. You can group related links under a subheader to help users find information quickly.
Divider A divider is a line that visually divides the course menu to help users find information quickly. After you create it, you can move it to the appropriate position.

Reordering and Managing the Links on the Course Menu

You can organize and rename the course menu links to make them easier for students to use.


  1. Use the drag-and-drop function to reorder course menu links.
  2. Alternatively, use the keyboard accessible reordering tool ( File:en-us/Learn/Sandbox_for_SP_12/en-us/Learn/9.1_SP_10_and_SP_11/Instructor/010_Blackboard_Learn_Environment/001_Course_Components/icon_keyboard_accessible_reordering.png ) to reorder the links.
  3. Access a link's contextual menu and select Rename to change its title. Select Hide Link to make it unavailable to students. Click Show Link to make it available to students. If you Delete a content area, all content items within it are also permanently deleted. This action is final.
  4. With Edit Mode set to ON, an unavailable link title appears with a square with a diagonal line through it ( File:en-us/Learn/Sandbox_for_SP_12/en-us/Learn/9.1_SP_10_and_SP_11/Instructor/010_Blackboard_Learn_Environment/001_Course_Components/icon_unavailable_course_menu.png ). Students do not see the link on the course menu.

The Control Panel

control panel

All course administration is accessed through links on the Control Panel. This area is only available if you have one of the following defined course roles:

  • Instructor
  • Teaching assistant (TA)
  • Grader
  • Course builder
  • Administrator

To learn more, see Course Roles.

The Control Panel appears below the course menu and is comprised of the areas listed in the following table.

Area Function
Files or Content Collection

Each course has its own Course Files area accessed in the Files section of theControl Panel. With Course Files, you have access to all files from a central location inside the course. Course Files is relative to the course, so only content for the course is stored there. Content is not shared across courses taught by the same instructor. You can use content in Course Files in multiple places within the course just by linking to it.

If your school licenses content management, the Content Collection is available through this area. With it, schools have a common content repository where users can share content. Therefore, you can add content to your course from other courses and from your computer, and manage it through the Content Collection. The section heading Content Collection appears instead of Files in the Control Panel.

Course Tools Contains all the available tools that are added to your course. Once added, these tools are administered from the Control Panel. To learn more, see Course Tools.
Evaluation Provides links to course reports, the Retention Center, and the Performance Dashboard, which are used to view information about student activity and content usage, and to be notified about performance based on criteria created by instructors. To learn more, see Generating Course ReportsUsing the Retention Center, and Using the Performance Dashboard.
Grade Center Provides links to the Needs Grading page, the Full Grade Center, default smart views of the Grade Center, and any smart views you create. Smart views appear in an indented list in the Full Grade Center section. To learn more, see Using Smart Views in the Grade Center.
Users and Groups List, enroll, edit, and remove users from your course. Create and administer formal groups of students to collaborate on work. To learn more, see Enrolling and Managing Users and Course Groups and Tools.
Customization Control enrollment options and guest and observer access. You can change the properties of your course, such as its name, availability, and language pack. You can use the Quick Setup Guide and Teaching Style page to modify the appearance of your course. Change tool availability to control which tools are available in your course and which users have access to them. To learn more, see Setting Enrollment OptionsAllowing Guest and Observer AccessSetting Course PropertiesLanguage PacksSetting Course Style Options, and Managing Tool Availability.
Packages and Utilities Import, export, and archive a course, check course links, copy all or part of the course, and move selected files to Course Files or the Content Collection (when available). To learn more, see Importing Course PackagesExporting and Archiving Courses,Checking Course LinksCopying CoursesMoving Files to Course Files.
Help Offers online documentation.

Contextual Menus

Throughout Blackboard Learn, items that are acted upon by a user have a contextual menu associated with them. You access the contextual menu by clicking the downward arrow icon. The contextual menu contains options for many components in Blackboard Learn, such as content items, course menu links, or Grade Center columns. The options in the contextual menu vary depending on the component.


Common Contextual Menu Options

The following options are common to many items in Blackboard Learn. If an option does not appear, you cannot perform it on that item.

  • Open
  • Edit
  • Copy
  • Move
  • Delete

Other Contextual Menu Options

These options will vary depending upon the type of item and a user's role. The following list is not comprehensive.

  • Adaptive Release options
  • Metadata
  • Statistics Tracking
  • User Progress
  • Email
  • Manage
  • Grade
  • Mark as New

Course Map

The course map is a collapsible tree directory you can use for navigation within your course. Open the course map from the Display in New Window icon on the course menu. 


Viewing the Map From the Performance Dashboard

When you view the course map from the Performance Dashboard, the availability of items, tools, and review status for the specific user appear.

Select the icon in the Adaptive Release column to view the course map for a specific user. The availability of each item and the review status for the user selected is indicated.

This following table includes a description of the icons used in the Performance Dashboard:

Icon Adaptive Release and Review Status Icons
visible Visible: This item is visible to that course user.
invisible Invisible: This item is not visible to that course user.
reviewed Reviewed: This item has been marked as reviewed by the course user.
not reviewed Not Reviewed: This item appears as not reviewed to the course user.

Edit Mode

When Edit Mode is ON, all the instructor-level functions appear, such as Build Content on the action bar in a content area or the appearance of contextual menus. When Edit Mode is OFF, you are viewing the page in student view. TheEdit Mode function only appears if you have a role of instructor, teaching assistant, course builder, and administrator.

Edit Mode allows instructors, TAs, course builders, and administrators to make changes to content in the course view instead of navigating through the Control Panel.


Note: Your school may disable this feature.

Paging Options

You can edit the paging options to specify how many items appear on a page in Blackboard Learn. For example, you can determine how many forums appear on the main discussion board page or how many items appear on theNeeds Grading page.

The default is 25 items per page and the maximum number of items is 1,000 per page. Clicking Show All displays all items and causes the other controls to disappear. For performance, the items per page should not be greatly expanded.

Use the following steps to edit the paging options.

  1. Click Edit Paging.
  2. Type a number in the Items per page text box. If the number is greater than the total number of items, then all items appear. If the number is less than one, then one item appears.
  3. Click OK.

video  Your Course Environment (Flash video | 3m 1s)