Ten Top Tips for a Successful Start to the New Academic Year

1. Do you have access to your “17-18” courses?

Access to Blackboard courses is controlled using information in the central “Banner” database maintained by Student Services.

Faculties list in Banner who is teaching a module.  Blackboard then uses that data to place instructors onto their modules in Blackboard.

If you believe you should have access to a 17-18 course but cannot see it in your My Courses list it is likely that your faculty has not listed you as having a role on that module in the Banner student record system.

To remedy this contact the Curriculum and Timetabling Team (curriculum@southampton.ac.uk / x23506) and ask that they update Banner with the corrected information. You should provide your staff ID number. Once the changes have been actioned in Banner Blackboard will be updated within 24 hours.

2. Have you “rolled over” your course materials?

Each Blackboard course begins life with no content and a small number of default menu items.

If you wish you may copy over your course materials en masse from last year’s version of the course to this year’s. You can find out more by going to the Rollover section of our Blackboard web site:


3. Did you make your Blackboard course available to students?

The My Courses box shows whether a course is available or not

When courses are created on Blackboard they are set to be unavailable to students. This is so that you may prepare the course and then make it available when it is ready. You can easily tell if a course is unavailable to students, because the word “unavailable” appears beside it in your My Courses list. Remember to make your course available to students before you tell them to use it. To find out how to make your Blackboard course available check this web page:

How to Make Your Blackboard Course Available To Students

4. View photographs of members of your Blackboard course

You can use the class photo roster to show photographs (where available) of users who have access to your course. This includes users with any role including students, instructors, and teaching assistants.

Where a photograph is not available a placeholder image is used.


Viewing photographs of members of your Blackboard course

5. Order your My Courses list by academic year

Set up your My Courses list to show your courses grouped by academic year for easier organisation. Watch this animation to find out how.

You can tidy it up and make it show only your relevant courses by following these instructions.


How to Tidy Up Your “My Courses” List

6. Learn about the “Instructor Quick Tools”

The Instructor Quick Tools allow you to:

– make multiple courses available quickly

– make the same announcement on multiple courses at once

– send the same email to multiple courses at once

The Instructor Quick Tools are a great tool for those that manage multiple Blackboard courses.

Find out about the Instructor Quick Tools

7. Have you let students know where to find help?

Students can contact ServiceLine for help with Blackboard, but it’s worth letting your students know that there is a lot of online help available to them too. Our web pages answer all common student questions, in particular how to print and download information from Blackboard.


Blackboard “How To” Guides For Students


Blackboard Student FAQ


Remember that there are lots of helpful resources for staff too: Blackboard Support for Staff

8. Do you wish to add a colleague or a student manually to your course?

The majority of Blackboard courses are populated automatically using information in the Student and Academic Administration Banner System. However there may be times where you wish to add a colleague or a student to your course manually. Read our guides to find out how to do this.



User Administration with Blackboard

9. Find out about new features and changes following the Blackboard Upgrade

Following the successful Blackboard upgrade in July 2017 there are a number of changes and new features, including:

– a floating submit button so you don’t have to scroll to the bottom of each page to submit.

– the ability to drag and drop files when creating a content item.

– instructor quick tools

– view photographs of members of your course


Find out about new features and changes following the Blackboard Upgrade

10. Be aware of automated security patching on the third Wednesday of each month 8.00 to 9.00 AM

iSolutions runs a regular automated patching regime where IT services will automatically receive the latest security patches and reboot themselves.

Blackboard currently has an “at risk” period every Wednesday from 8.00 to 9.00 AM where this time is reserved for carrying out maintenance.

The patching regime as applied to the Blackboard service will operate on the third Wednesday of each month during the “at risk” period. At this time the Blackboard service may restart following a patch installation and Blackboard would be inaccessible during this brief time. Typically a restart can take 10 – 30 minutes from start to finish.