Blackboard: New Semester Checklist

Login to Blackboard at

Login to Blackboard to access 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.

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 Availability for your Course (Turning “ON” your Course for your Students)

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 the specific course → select Control Panel → 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.

You can also use the Qwickly Module (available just after logging into Blackboard) to set availability, mass email and announcements.

Note: The student roster for your class is updated every 3 hours from Banner to reflect accurate enrollments. Instructors do not need to worry about making changes to their class list because this is an automated process that occurs between Banner and Blackboard.

Upload and Organize Course Content

By uploading and creating content in Blackboard, students can access course materials. 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.

It is very important that you update any content that was copied from previous semesters, especially due dates!  Due dates are extremely valuable to students!  Instructors can customize their Blackboard course menu and this can be extremely beneficial in meeting individual class needs. Listed below are a few suggestions on how to use the various Content areas found in your Blackboard course:

  • Announcements: This area is used to display updates, reminders and announcements posted by the instructor. When a student enters a Blackboard course, this area appears as their default screen.
  • Instructor Information: General contact information (phone numbers, email addresses, office locations...etc. for the faculty can be listed in this area.
  • Syllabus: This area is used to display general information about the course such as a syllabus, as well as your course schedule.
  • Documents: This area is used to provide the majority of the information delivered to students online, such as lecture notes, PowerPoint slides, reading materials, study guides, outlines...etc.
  • Assignments: This area is designed to hold course assignments, test, quizzes, or surveys.
  • Discussions: This is an area that allows students/instructors to have online discussions by posting questions, comments and responses through the use of forums and threads. - Instructor Information: General contact information (phone numbers, email addresses, office locations...etc. for the faculty can be listed in this area.
  • Grades: Students can use this area to check their grades.
  • Email: Students and faculty can use email to communicate course expectations, deadlines, or timely announcements.
  • Help: This area will link students and faculty to the GVSU Blackboard support materials.

Review Course Files for Accessibility with Ally

For content you have uploaded, 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. 

Set up the Grade Center

A good practice is to provide timely feedback to students and there is no better way than to take advantage of the gradebook in Blackboard. If you have copied over your Grade Center from a previous semester, you’ll want to confirm online gradebook settings are accurate for total assessment. More information on how to use the Grade Center.

Learn your Students' Names with the Class Photo Roster

Each Blackboard course has a Class Photo Roster that can assist you in learning your students’ names.

Step 1 – Enter your course in Blackboard.

Step 2 – Under Control Panel, click the Course Tools drop down.

Step 3 – Click Class Photo Roster.

Connect and Communicate with Your Students

Instructors can quickly create announcements in a course, or send email to individual users, groups, or all students.

From your Blackboard course, select Email → select all users or selected individual users. Instructors can also send email to individual students, or selected students via the Grade Center.  
Please 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 prior to your first class meeting. 

We're here to Help!

Throughout the year, eLearning and Emerging Technologies provides several hands-on workshops. To register for a workshop, go to the following address: and log into the seminar system using your GVSU network username/password.

Additional Blackboard help materials and tutorials also can be found on the eLearning Teaching with Technology web site.