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Landing Pages – Blackboard

I’ve been out and about for the last week or so doing one-on-one user acceptance testing and in each session I inevitably get asked a Blackboard question. This little tip is the answer to one such question.

Most users of technology are now very used to the idea of a landing screen filled with a grid of icons that open various applications and websites – just like a smartphone or tablet. The user in question wanted to create a grid of links to items useful for a course of distance students who have never been on a University of Otago campus. Links would include the Library, Distance Learning office and lots of other useful things to help students find their place in the world.

Screen shot of icon landing page in BlackboardAfter thinking about this request for a while I realised there is a simple (not necessarily elegant) solution to achieve this in Blackboard. The solution needed to be something any user could create and maintain – so a whole load of complicated coding was out of the question. What follows are instructions to create a Blank Page in your Blackboard paper, create a table of icons (or images) which are also links. There are also instructions to make this page your default Home page for your paper.

  1. Log into Blackboard and open your paper.
  2. Go to the + symbol on the top left of your course menu and click it.
  3. Select Blank Page from the drop-down menu.
  4. Give the page a name – perhaps Home.
  5. Add a table to the content (it’s a grid icon on the bottom row).
  6. Select the number of rows and columns you want (I opted for 3 by 3), set the height and width to 100%, leave the border at 0.
  7. Insert an image (if you want one) into each cell. In the Appearance tab of the Insert image page set some dimensions – I opted for 200px by 200px for every image to keep it consistent and neat.
  8. Under the image add a title for the link for example Library.
  9. Highlight both your text and image and click the make link icon (it’s the chain like icon in the middle row). Add the full URL to the Link Path and set the target to ‘Open in a new window’.
  10. While the image and text are highlighted centre them.
  11. Repeat steps 7-10 until the whole table is full (or you’ve run out of links).
  12. Click Submit
  13. Turn Edit mode off (top right hand of the page) to see what you page now looks like.

To make this page the default start page for your Blackboard paper:

  1. While logged into your paper go to Teaching Style in the Customisation section of your Control Panel (bottom left hand menu).
  2. Scroll down to ‘Select course entry point’ and select the page you created above.
  3. Click Submit

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