Blackboard Faculty Manual - Course Panel

Step 1: Managing the course menu.

Designing the basic framework for a particular course

A new course shell has the following default menu items set to be available when the course is opened to student view: Announcement, faculty, syllabus, course content, email, MyGrades, and support services. 

In this section you will learn:

  • How to change the menu items to better describe their use in a particular course.
  • How to enable (and hide) from student view those menu items that you are not currently using. Rule of thumb: A menu item viewable to students should never open to an empty area.


1.1 Click on “Manage Course Menu” in the Course Options section of the control panel. From the following screen you will be making decisions about which menu items and secondary items will be viewable to students. Click on “Modify” beside the second menu item labeled “course information.” (You’ll want to keep the first menu item – announcement.)

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1.2 Change the name of menu item to fit your course layout

  • Use the drop down menu to change the name of a menu item
  • Open the drop down menu to see some possible names for the item if you want to change it from “course information”
  • Click into the text box and type in a name for the menu item in the text box if none of the readily available descriptors seems appropriate
  • Always, always hit Submit or OK for any changes you make in Bb.

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1.3 Check "Available for Student/Participant users” for each menu item that you want to enable students to view.

  • You have the option of completely removing menu item, but doing so might be confusing if you ever want to add the item back. (Adding removed or new menu items requires selection of a Bb functions – Content area, tool link, course link, or external link.)
  • Make decisions on the following:
    • Do you want to open a course information area?
    • Do you want to open a course document area?
    • Do you want to open an assignment area?
    • Do you want to use the discussion board, digital dropbox, or other communication/tool interactive features?

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1.4 Make decisions on sub-menu items in the communication area if you make the communication menu item available to student/participate users. This is the area in which you and students can interact, for example, email each other. Since the communication menu item offers sub items, you will need to take any extra step in selecting them. 

  • Click modify in the communications item
    • Make unavailable all sub menu items that you will not be currently using .
      • Announcements.  You probably will not need an extra announcements item.  Making this sub menu item will not remove announcement, since by default you well already have the announcement menu item listed first.
      • Collaboration (the chat room).  Use of the chat room and virtual classroom has limited features for basic use of Bb.  Make those unavailable unless you have specific use of those areas designed into your course.   
      • The discussion board.  You might want to use the discussion board later, but keep it unavailable until you are actually prepared to use it.
      • Group pages.  Make those unavailable for now unless you have specifically designed (and are ready to use) the group functions in Bb. 
      • Messages.  A confusing system for internal, course specific Bb messages.   Keep this unavailable unless you have a specific use for that feature within a course.  If so, you will need to give clear directions to students on how/when to use messages.
      • Roster.  Make that unavailable for basic use of Bb.  If and when you use the student homepage feature you will need to make this available, but do not have it available until then.   

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  • Make appropriate selections of email sub-menu. The default course template is set for the email function to be automatically made available to student view in such a way as to allow students to email you and other students, individually or the everyone in the course.  You will have the following choices:



All Users Sends email to all users in a specified course.
All Groups Sends email to all o the groups in a specified group.
All Teaching Assistants Sends email to all of the Teaching Assistants in the course
All Instructors Sends email to all of the Instructors in the course.
Single / Select Users Sends email to a single user or select users in the course.
Single / Select Groups Send email to a single group or select groups in the course.



1.5 Give students access to their grades.  By default the MyGrades function is set to allow students to view the Bb gradebook.


1.6  Make decisions on sub-menu items in the tools area when you plan to use other Bb tool functon.  This is the area of possible interaction between you and only one student at a time. Like the communication menu, the tools menu item offers sub items that you need to make decisions on whether or not to open to student access. Remember, you can always make them available later. 

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  • Click modify in the tools item from the mange course menu screen. Consideration:  It is probably better if you make the Tools area unavailable to student view until you are ready to use specific functions.  Remember, the grade book function is already set for you to give student access (see above).  
    • Make available only the sub menu items that you will be currently using.
      • Keep the address book unavailable
      • Decide if you’re going to post items in the course calendar. These will show up on the students' "My Carroll" (Welcome) page when the student enters Bb.
      • Keep the Digital drop box, glossary, homepage unavailable until you are ready to use them in the course.  
  • Keep the tools menu item unavailable if you are not using any of the sub menu items.  The MyGrades function can still be made accessible to students by following the instructions above in 1.5.


Watch video of Manage Course Menu at

(California Polytechnic State University)


Please check out more information on using Carroll's Blackboard by clicking into the Faculty Bb Resource tab after you login to Bb.

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