Getting Started with Blackboard for Students

Introduction

At the University of Southampton we use Blackboard as a Virtual Learning Environment.  This is a web site on which you can expect to find resources and materials to support your learning at the University.  Typically you will find learning resources, links to view recorded lectures, and you may find that you are expected to submit assignments through Blackboard.

Every module taught at the University has an area on Blackboard, however you may find that some modules do not use Blackboard and use a different web site instead.  If this is the case your module teaching team will inform you.  

Blackboard is easy to use.  We have prepared the information below to provide students with useful information when getting started with Blackboard.

As you scroll down this page more information will appear on the screen.

appicns_chromeUse a supported browser and operating system

You can use modern browsers and operating systems with Blackboard.  We keep a list of the officially supported browsers on our website.

Other browsers and operating systems not on the list will usually work ok with Blackboard, but if you have experienced a browser related issue we would ask you to try an officially supported browser instead.

In our experience Chrome and Firefox give the best experience when using Blackboard.

digiblackAccess Blackboard

You may log into Blackboard by going to https://blackboard.soton.ac.uk

You can also access Blackboard via Sussed and you may also find links to Blackboard on your faculty intranet or elsewhere.  If all else fails you can Google “Southampton Blackboard”.

 

The Login page explained

The login page contains lots of useful information.  Select the image below to see an explanation of the various elements that make up the login page.

The login page for Blackboard

What you see when you login to Blackboard

When you login to Blackboard you arrive at your Home screen.  Select the image below to view an explanation of the various elements you will see.

Screenshot that shows a typical Blackboard home screen for students

The home screen shows

  • recent announcements – pieces of news and updates from your courses or about Blackboard itself
  • a list of courses to which you have access.
    • if a course says “not currently available” you will not be able to access it because the course has not been made available to students by the instructor.  This may mean the instructor will not use Blackboard to support the course, or they are not yet ready for the course to be accessed by students.  To find out more, contact the course instructor.
    • if a course is missing from your list which you believe you should see it may be because you are not officially enrolled on that module.  Your faculty student office can help you to check.
  • Other tools.  You may find some useful such as Send Email, or My Blackboard Scores.
  • A Floating box with useful links.

Use the Floating tool box

The floating tool box appears on the home screen.  You can use it to

  • easily add an avatar to represent yourself in Blackboard.
  • easily organise your course list by academic year
  • find help and support
  • find links to other University web sites

Demonstration of using the floating tool box.

avatarUpload your avatar

Upload your avatar / profile picture to Blackboard.  It will appear beside your discussion board posts, blog posts, wiki pages, and in other areas of Blackboard.

You can use the Floating box to find a quick link to upload your avatar.

Organise your courses by academic year

Image showing a course list organised by academic year in BlackboardAs your time at the University passes you will have access to more Blackboard courses.

To make your course list simpler to use you may set your course list to be structured by academic year.

This is a simple setting to change.  You can use the floating tool box to do this, watch the animation below to find our more.

Animation showing how to list courses by academic year in Blackboard

Use your faculty hub

Hosted on Blackboard, Undergraduate and Post Graduate Taught students may now access The Hub, a new online resource and one-stop-shop to help make the most of your time studying with us.

The sites signpost lots of helpful information including: student support, academic help, careers information, ‘how to’ guides (such as ‘How do I find out more about a module’), and much more.

The sites, championed by student representatives and last academic year’s Sabbatical Officers, have been developed alongside feedback from the Students’ Union, as well as a number of other departments across the University.

What you see when you enter a course

This is an example of what you may see when you enter a course.  Select the image below to view an explanation of the various elements you will see.

Screenshot showing an example of what a student may see when they enter a Blackboard course

The course menu

Animation showing course menu examples

The course menu you see will vary.

Although all courses begin with a default menu, staff may add, remove or change menu items in order to make their Blackboard course best suit their purposes.

If you find you do not understand what a menu item means, even when you view the content within it, your course instructor will be best placed to explain it to you.

When you use a mobile device to view Blackboard you may have to click the button shown in this animation to reveal the course menu.

Animation showing the mobile menu pullout

Course Content (main area)

Naturally, the content you find on Blackboard will vary between courses.  The way the content is presented will differ according to the preferences and inclinations of the authors.  Teaching staff decide what content to upload to their courses and where to place it within their courses.

Demonstration of the type of content and its presentation from a sample of Blackboard courses

Use the accessibility toolbar (ATbar)

This easy to use toolbar gives you the option to change the look and feel of the Blackboard page you are viewing through text only enlargement, font style and colour changes plus increased line spacing. There are also features for text to speech, a dictionary, spell checking, word prediction and colour overlays.

This is an open source project created by the Accessibility team in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton.

Screenshot shows the position of the ATbar button. You can use SHIFT+TAB when arriving at a Blackboard page to tab select the button, then press Enter to open it.

bbsutdnetDownload the Blackboard app

The best way to use Blackboard is through a supported web browser.  This gives you access to the full suite of tools and features within Blackboard.  However, a mobile app is also available which provides a handy and easy way to check your courses from your mobile device. 

You’ll find that a subset of features are supported by the app, and you may find it useful for quickly checking course materials on your phone whilst enjoying the free wifi on uni-link buses.  

Make sure to install the MySouthampton app too!

image159Familiarise yourself with the text editor

Whenever you type something into Blackboard you will usually have a set of icons available which allow you to set formatting options and embed pictures, animated gifs, videos, youtube clips, and more. 

Our web page explains what all the icons mean and also provides some keyboard shortcuts for power users.

dlLearn how to download materials from Blackboard

You may find it useful to download certain materials such as handouts and presentations so that you can view them easily on your laptop or mobile device without needing to be online.  If your course tutor has made lecture recordings available, you can download them as mp4 files for viewing offline.  This is very handy if you are in locations with poor internet access, or just want to save battery by keeping your wifi turned off.

guideCheck out the “how to guides”

We have a number of straightforward step by step guides that will show you how to perform any tasks expected of you within your Blackboard course such as submitting an assignment, writing a blog/journal entry, taking part in group work, writing a wiki page, gaining an achievement, and more.

Icons representing Bb assignments and TII assignmentsKnow how to submit assignments

You may find that you are required to submit assignments through your Blackboard course.

There are two tools that are used to facilitate assignment submission in Blackboard.

Use the above web links to find instructions on using these tools.

p-honKnow how to obtain support

From time to time you may have a query about Blackboard.  Our page linked above will tell you how to contact us and what information you should provide in order to help us to help you as quickly as possible.  We also have a list of frequently asked questions where you may find your answer without needing to contact us.

bobFind out about other useful services

There are lots of other useful services to get to know:

Bob National: (also known as Learning On Screen) on demand TV and radio service.  Like iplayer but with 60+ channels.

Office 365 and OneDrive: get Microsoft office for free and 1TB of online storage.

MySouthampton mobile app: the University of Southampton’s official app giving you access to map services, emails, timetables and more.

eFolio: You may be expected to use eFolio to produce a personal ePortfolio or create a blog.

Southampton Virtual Environment:  access to a University Windows desktop from any device in any location, whether that’s at home, on campus, or on the move.  You will also have access to all of your files, plus the most popular applications.

Eduroam: University wifi that, once set up, will also allow you to use wifi at more than 6,000 eduroam hotspots.  These are available at universities, research centres, academies, many schools, and other research and education institutions in more than 70 territories around the world.

Timetable: You can access your timetable at https://timetable.soton.ac.uk

Find out more at https://www.southampton.ac.uk/studentadmin/timetabling/viewing.page 

eAssignments: Some subject areas use the eAssignment site for collecting your moduel assignments.

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