Blackboard: New Semester Checklist


LOGIN to Blackboard at

Access Blackboard at to locate your courses. A shortcut to Blackboard is also on the GVSU homepage at You will be prompted to enter your GVSU network username/password to access  Blackboard.  Grand Valley also uses Duo as a way to further increase the security of our systems. The term for this is "multi-factor authentication", or MFA for short. This video explains how to request a Duo account and install it.

Note: If the courses you have been assigned to teach are not showing up in your list of courses, please contact your departmental office coordinator to make sure that you are listed as the instructor of record in Banner.


Set your Course(s) to AVAILABLE

All Blackboard courses are unavailable to your students while you build and organize content. Once you are ready to make your course visible, go to your course → select Control Panel → to select Customization → select Properties. Under “Set Availability”, choose “Yes”, and click Submit. Repeat these steps for each course that needs to be made visible to your students.

Instructions for making your course available in Ultra can be found in this service portal article.

Note: The student roster for your class is updated every 3 hours from Banner to reflect accurate enrollments. 


UPLOAD and Organize Course Content and Set DUE DATES

By uploading and creating content in Blackboard, students can access course materials anytime and from anywhere. If you have used Blackboard in a prior semester, you can use the course copy feature to copy content from one semester to the next.  Please note the process is different when copying content between a Classic course and an Ultra course.  See this knowledge base article.  See this knowledge base article for copying content between Ultra courses.  See this knowledge base article for exporting/importing content between Classic and Ultra. 

DUE DATES - You must update any content that was copied from previous semesters, especially due dates! Classic Blackboard has a due date management tool that can assist you in adjusting dates. This is especially valuable after a course copy from a previous semester.  See this knowledge base article for using the batch edit function for editing content/dates in Bb Ultra.

  • Due dates are extremely valuable to students as they automatically appear in the course calendar, in the notifications area of Blackboard, and on the student mobile app, assisting students in managing their time.  

DEFAULT BLACKBOARD LAYOUT - Please note that this is the last semester that we will be using classic/original Blackboard and the eLearning team has prepared an Instructor Guide to assist you in using the menu structure inside of your course.  Beginning Spring/Summer 2023, all courses will be using Blackboard Ultra.  Learn more about this transition on our LMS Migration website

  • While instructors can heavily customize their Blackboard course menu we recommend keeping the standard layout to improve the overall learner experience, reduce cognitive load, and ease navigation across courses.

Watch a video tour of GVSU's default Blackboard course layout.

Listed below are a few brief suggestions on how to use the various menu areas found in your Blackboard course:

  • Announcements: This area is used to display updates, reminders, and announcements posted by the instructor. This area is extremely useful in communicating and engaging with students. When a student enters a Blackboard course, this area appears as their default screen.
  • Syllabus and Schedule: This area is used to display general information about the course such as a syllabus, as well as your course schedule.
  • Instructor Information: Instructor contact information (phone numbers, email addresses, office locations...etc.) for faculty are listed in this area.
  • Begin Here: This section is intended to be used by students the first time they enter into your course. This area helps students become orientated to your course, view a welcome video, or participate in a "getting to know you" activity, etc.
  • Weekly Content: This area is designed to be used to provide the majority of the information delivered to students. We recommend using weekly folders, whereby you can post the outcomes for the week, the content or lecture notes, PowerPoint slides, reading materials, study guides, outlines, etc. as well as learning activities and assessments.
  • Assignments: This area is designed as a single place to hold course assignments, tests, quizzes, or surveys. Making it easier for students to go to a single place to access graded activities.
  • Discussions: This is an area that allows students/instructors to engage in online discussions by posting questions, interacting in inquiry or dialogue, sharing comments and responses through the use of forums and threads. 
  • Check my Grades: Students use this area to check their grades and performance in your course.
  • Send Email: Students and faculty can use email to communicate course expectations, deadlines, reminders, or timely announcements.
  • University Resources: This area will link students to the most essential student support resources.
  • Blackboard Help: This area will link students and faculty to GVSU Blackboard support materials.


Review Course Files for ACCESSIBILITY with Ally

For content you have uploaded, be sure to take the time to review the level of accessibility of your files using the dial indicators in Blackboard Ally. By clicking a dial/indicator, Ally provides recommendations to improve the accessibility of your files. 



An instructional design the best practice is to provide timely feedback to students and there is no better way than to take advantage of the grade book in Blackboard. In fact, in surveys, the use of the grade book is the #1 most requested tool that students would like to see more use of in their courses at GVSU.

If you have copied over your Grade Center from a previous semester, you’ll want to confirm online grade book settings are accurate for total assessment. 

More information on how to use the Grade Center.
More information on how to use the Gradebook in Bb Ultra can be found in this knowledge base article.


  • If Respondus Monitor is used for online proctoring, and if the course was copied from a previous semester before a student can access an assessment, the Respondus dashboard in the new course needs to be accessed by the instructor. Here are the instructions: Under the course Control Panel > click Course Tools > click Respondus LockDown Browser. This will load the dashboard and re-sync Respondus and allow students to access the exams.


Encourage your students to update their Bb profile picture

We know that students are better engaged when their instructors learn their names. We would encourage you to ask students to update their Blackboard profile picture. These photos show in several areas of your Blackboard course site.


Connect and COMMUNICATE with Your Students

Instructor presence and engagement are key to building an effective learning community.

Take a moment to welcome students by creating an announcement in your course. Additionally, you can easily send emails to individual users, groups, or all students.

From your Blackboard course, select Email → select all users or selected individual users. Instructors can also send emails to individual students, or selected students via the Grade Center.  

Note: It’s always a good idea to post a Welcome Announcement, or email your students once you have made your Blackboard site available. You can even encourage them to review the syllabus/ schedule and required textbooks before your first class meeting.   See this knowledge base article for communication options for Bb Ultra.

We're here to HELP!

Need help? Looking for assistance? Here are 4 ways we can help!

  1. REGISTER for an eLearning Webinar

    Throughout each semester, the eLearning team offers more than 40+ sessions covering a wide array of 30+ teaching with technology topics.
  2. VISIT the eLearning Teaching with Technology Support Web Site 

    Access on-demand and self-help resources for Blackboard Learn (content, communication, assignment management, and grading), Zoom (live web conferencing), Blackboard Ally (accessibility), Panopto (video), Respondus LockDown Browser/Monitor (online exam proctoring), and more!
  3. EMAIL eLearning at [email protected] 

    Get help, support, and assistance for teaching with technology.
  4. CALL IT Services at (616) 331-2101

    8:00 AM - 4:00 PM | Monday through Friday
    24x7 after-hours support is available

Page last modified January 9, 2023