Introduction to Blackboard for Teaching staff

This guide is intended to give a brief summary to staff of the processes involved in using Blackboard. Each section contains references to further information which can be found on the Blackboard Support for Staff web pages.


What is Blackboard?

Blackboard is an electronic system, known as a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), which uses Internet technology to provide a platform for teaching and learning via the World Wide Web. Because Blackboard is designed for the use of students and staff rather than computer programmers or IT specialists, it does not require a high level of IT expertise or experience.

As an Internet-based system, the learning materials on Blackboard can be accessed 'anywhere, any time' - all that is needed is a suitable computer with Internet access. Details of the technical requirements for accessing Blackboard, including an automated diagnostic check, are available on the System Requirements web pages.

Who can use Blackboard?

All staff and students can access Blackboard through the myUWE portal.

From the start of the 2008/09 academic year, there is an expectation for all modules to have a Blackboard course that is accessible to students enrolled on the module. In addition, some Programmes may also be supported through the use of Blackboard, and courses may also be created (via ISIS student groups) to support other teaching and learning activities that are outside the Programme or modular structure.

What sort of computer will I need to access Blackboard?

All UWE networked computers are correctly configured to use Blackboard. In order to access Blackboard at home, your computer will need to conform to some minimum specifications. For more on technical requirements for accessing Blackboard, including access to commonly required plugins, please consult the System Requirements web pages.

An instant diagnostic check can be performed on your computer by visiting the Test My Computer page.

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Who do I ask for help when using Blackboard?

  • Blackboard Support is your first point of contact for help in using Blackboard. You can e-mail the team at blackboard@uwe.ac.uk, or telephone 0117 32 85735 (internal extension 85735). Or you can contact the Blackboard team using this form.
  • The E-Learning Development Unit give advice on all aspects of online teaching and learning
  • The Learning and Development Centre deliver centrally supported training courses in the use of Blackboard. Please see the Course list for further details.

Where do my students go for support?

Blackboard Support have developed a Blackboard Support for Students section of their web site for students to use.

Student support includes guides on getting started with Blackboard, navigating around Blackboard, things students need to know about Blackboard, guidance on specific features, plus Faculty contact details.

How do I login to Blackboard?

You can access Blackboard once you have logged into myUWE using your UWE network user ID and password. You can access myUWE via:

  • From inside UWE, either follow the myUWE link on the UWE intranet page, or type the word 'my' in the address field in your web browser.
  • From outside UWE, either follow the 'Log in' link on the UWE home page and then select the 'myUWE' option, or type http://my.uwe.ac.uk into the address field in your web browser.

In exceptional circumstances, if you are experiencing problems accessing myUWE, you can access Blackboard directly.

Attachment of staff and students to Blackboard courses is controlled via ISIS, the University's staff and student record system. If you are teaching on a module but can't see a Blackboard course for this module when you log in, please contact your Faculty Student Administration Team (SAT). They will be able to attach you to the module in ISIS. Further information on the relationship between Blackboard and ISIS is available under the heading The relationship between Blackboard and ISIS below.

Blackboard refers to teaching staff as Instructors. When you log in to Blackboard, you will see every course you are attached to as an Instructor listed in the 'My Courses' area on the Blackboard landing page. To enter a course, select its title.

Each run of a module is associated with a separate Blackboard course, so you may see more than one course with the same name. If you are unsure which course is associated with which run of a module, your Faculty Student Administration Team (SAT) will be able to advise.

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How do I use Blackboard?

Blackboard Support offers a range of Staff Guides on specific features of Blackboard which we recommend you refer to before first using Blackboard.

Learning and Development Centre offer a couple of Blackboard training courses, including ‘Getting Started with Blackboard’. Blackboard Support strongly recommends you book a session if you are new to using Blackboard. Details of the training sessions offered are available on the Learning and Development Centre website.

What material should I place on Blackboard?

Blackboard can be used by any member of staff to provide access to teaching and learning materials by their students. The E-Learning Development Unit website contains information on the development of online teaching and learning resources.

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Making a course available to students

In order to ensure that students don't see courses empty of content, all Blackboard courses are created as unavailable (to students) by default. Once appropriate content has been added, courses can be made available to students.

For guidance on how to make a course available, please see the Making Your Course Available guide.

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and student materials submitted to Blackboard

The copyright of any material submitted by a student to Blackboard is assumed to remain with the student. Although this material may be archived for assessment purposes, it cannot be used for other purposes, except with the explicit permission of the student. Teaching materials submitted to UWE web sites are governed by the same copyright conditions as other forms of teaching materials.

The relationship between Blackboard and ISIS

Each module run in ISIS exists as a separate Blackboard course. Every night, data from ISIS is fed into Blackboard. This feed of data contains information on module runs and the students and staff attached to them.

In addition, some Programmes may also be supported through the use of Blackboard courses, and courses may also be created (via ISIS student groups) to support other teaching and learning activities that are outside the Programme or modular structure.

Further information is available from The feed from ISIS to Blackboard.

Resit runs of modules

As each module run is associated with a separate Blackboard course, new courses are created for resit runs of modules. Students who fail a module will be enrolled on the resit run, and will lose access to the Blackboard course associated with the first run of the module. A guide is available that illustrates the Lifecycle of a Module’s First Run and Resit Run in Blackboard.

Modules, Programmes, ISIS student groups and Fields

There are FOUR types of organisational entity in ISIS that are fed to Blackboard. These are:

  • Module run, fed to a Blackboard course;
  • Programme, fed to a Blackboard course (either supporting students on the Primary Award, or the Primary Target(s), but not both);
  • Student group (of Blackboard Course type or Non Credit-Bearing (NCB) Plus type) fed to a Blackboard course;
  • Field, fed to a Blackboard Content Collection folder (but not a course).

The student group of Course type is intended to support learning that is module-like but is not part of a formally validated award. The student group of NCB Plus type is intended to support any educational course which is not credit bearing and, as such, does not lead to a qualification or institutional credit, but whose details are still required to be returned to HESA.

Further information on the appropriate use of student groups can be found in the guide Blackboard Policies and Processes.

To submit a request for a group use the online form Application for Approval of Blackboard Student Groups.

When filling out this form, you will need to provide a unique group code. Guidance on the conventions for assigning codes is available from the ISIS Group Conventions guide. This guide also contains advice for administrative staff on setting up a group in ISIS.