Adding a Content Item to Your Course

As we explain in the related help sheet, Adding a Syllabus to Your Course, Blackboard was originally advertised as a way for faculty members to "put their courses online" without knowing any HTML. One crucial element of "putting your course(s) online" is uploading course-related documents into a central, Web-based repository (in other words, into your Blackboard course), so that your students have access to those documents wherever and whenever they have Internet access. Blackboard accepts files of multiple types and basically serves as a container for those files, providing access to them and allowing you to provide brief descriptions for the files, so the students have a sense of what they will see when they click on the appropriate file link. To upload such a document into your course:

  1. Log in to Blackboard (opens in new window), and click on your course among the list of "Courses you are teaching" in the My Courses section of the opening page. Within that course, go to the Control Panel by clicking on the Control Panel icon near the bottom of the left-hand navigation menu.
  2. As part of our default course template, Blackboard's left navigation menu has "Announcements" as the first button, and "Course Information" as the second button, and "Course Materials" as the fourth button. The Course Information section usually contains general information about your course, including (in particular) your syllabus. The Course Materials section will contain the various documents that you hand out after the first week of classes. For this help sheet, we'll assume that you haven't changed the default menu structure for your course and that you'll be uploading your new content item into the Course Materials section.

    Within the "Content Areas" section of the Control Panel for your course (in the top-left quadrant of the screen), click on the Course Materials link, which should be the second link in that section:

    Course Materials

  3. At this point, you'll need to decide how you want to organize the materials that you upload into your Blackboard course. If you anticipate uploading only a small number of items, or if your item is important enough that you want it within the main "Course Materials" folder (and not in any sub-folder), click on the Item Button button. In general, though, we recommend that you organize your items in folders, to make it easier for students to find the relevant items for your course. To learn how to add a folder to a content area, please see the help sheet Adding a Folder to a Content Area.

    If you have organized your content into folders, click on the link of the folder to which you want to add your item. (See the figure just below.) If you haven't created folders or you want to add your document at this "Course Materials" level, skip to Step 4 just below.

    Click on Folder Name

  4. If you haven't already, click the Item button:

    Add Item to Folder

    Please note that your display may look slightly different from the figure just above; for example, you might have a different folder name ("PowerPoint Lectures" in the figure above), or you might not be placing your item within a sub-folder.

  5. Type a name for the item in the Name box.

    If you like to use different colors for particular items to indicate their type, you can choose a color other than the default (black) by clicking the Pick Button button and selecting the color you want from the "Color Picker" window that opens up.

    We recommend that you type a brief description of the item in the Text box, so your students will have a sense of what they will be seeing:

    Add Item

    The figure just above shows how the screen will appear in Internet Explorer. If you want to add special formatting to your text (as in The Elizabethan World Picture in the text box, above), we recommend that you type the text first without any formatting, then click and drag with your mouse to select the specific words that will need special formatting. Once those words are highlighted, click on the appropriate tool in the Formatting Toolbar (B or I, for example) to apply the chosen formatting to the selected text.

    Firefox users (for Blackboard version 6.3 and below) won't have the same WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) text box with the special formatting toolbars. Instead, make sure that Smart Text is the option chosen at the bottom of the message text window. Smart Text automatically recognizes URLs as links, interprets returns as paragraph breaks, and accepts HTML code as well.

  6. Scroll down to the Content section of the page, and click the Browse button next to the Attach local file window:

    Attach Local File

    Navigate to the appropriate folder on your hard drive to find the file that you want to upload into your Blackboard course, click on the name of the file to select it, and then click on the Open button:

    Select File

  7. In the Name of Link to File window, type in the name of the link that the students will see when they view this section of your course. We recommend that you add in parentheses the type of file they will be viewing: for example, "(PowerPoint file)", "(Word document)", etc.

    In general, you'll be uploading a file that students will get to by clicking on the link (whose name you just added), so the Special Action generally remains as the default value: "Create a link to this file":

    Create Link to File

  8. In the Options section, we strongly recommend that you click in the Yes button to make the content available. If you don't make the content available, your students won't be able to see it, and you'll need to return to this area later on to change that setting to "Yes." If you want to limit when students can see the item, the better approach is to select "Yes" for making the content available, but then to use the Display After and Display Until settings to control time frame when the item is visible to students. We also recommend that you select the "Yes" button to track the number of views, if you want to get statistics at a later point about how often students have accessed this content item. In the figure below, we choose the basic recommended settings of making the item visible, tracking the number of times students view the item, but not restricting the item's availability to students:

    Display Options

  9. Click the Submit Button button to send your changes to the server.

  10. Blackboard will respond that the item has been successfully added to your course. Click the OK Button button to return to the folder where you added the content. You should see the item you just added, with the text entered into the "Name of link to file" window now underlined, indicating it is a hyperlink. You should also see your brief description of the link. If you return to this area of your course (via the Control Panel), you'll see this same view, which will allow you to modify, copy, remove, and track who has viewed the item (via the Manage button):

    Added Content Item

  11. Click on the OK Button button (as many times as necessary) to return to the Control Panel for your course.

Last revised April 18, 2007.  Please send questions or comments to