Using the Control Panel
About the Control Panel
The Control Panel is the area in your course where you can manage your course. There are eight menu items in the Control Panel and each item expands to reveal sub-menus by clicking the chevrons next to the selected item.
Below is a description of each of the areas in the Control Panel. Please navigate through these items to familiarize yourself with the features and functions.
- Files: This is the central file storage. You can upload files to be used to this area, where they will be available as needed in your course.
- Course Tools: This area identifies the available tools that can be added to your course; you can add or remove more tools in the Tool Availability section under Customization.
- Evaluation: Use this section to track user activity and user performance.
- Grade Center: Access different views of your Grade Center from this section. The Full Grade Center is the default view. Smart Views can be created and added as favorites to show up in this menu item.
- Users and Groups: This area lists users enrolled in your course and allows you to create small groups for collaborative work.
- Customization: Use this section to change course properties, course appearance, and tool availability.
- Packages and Utilities: This area allows you to copy, import, export, and archive the course.
- Help: Find documentation, tutorials, and contact support contact information here.
You will be returning to the Control Panel throughout the course to complete activities and will start with a few simple exercises.
After completing the activities below, move to the next item for your selected training.
Activities to Complete
You will return to the Control Panel several times to complete activities and you will start with a few simple tasks: 1) add a test student account and 2) change the course menu colors.
1. Add a Test Student Account
Instructors can now add a test student account in their courses, which allows viewing from a student perspective. It's as simple as clicking a button and choosing a password.
Review the following tutorial: Add Test Student in Courses.
- Click on Course Tools in the Control Panel.
- Select the Add Test Student link.
- Click the Create Test Student button and follow the prompts.
After enrolling the test student in your courses, you can now login to your courses as a student. Your test student username will be the same as your regular username with an underscore and "s" on the end (i.e. if your username is "username444", your test student login will be "username444_s"). The password will be whatever you selected when you signed up your test student.
You can work in both views at the same time by opening different web browsers (i.e. Firefox and Internet Explorer). Log into the course as an instructor in one, and a student in the other to work in both roles at the same time.
Remember, if the course is unavailable, you will not be able to view the course as a student unless you make the course temporarily available.
2. Change the Course Menu Colors
Instructors frequently want to adjust the look of their course, including the menu background and text colors. For instance, when teaching two or more sections of one course, it is often helpful to use different colors as a visual method to distinguish between them.
Important: Always ensure that you have strong contrast between the background and text colors to enable ease in viewing, especially for users with vision disabilities. Avoid strong patterns if using buttons.
- Under Customization in the Control Panel, select Teaching Style.
- Under Select Menu Style, with the "Text" radio button selected, select a different Background Color and Text Color by using the chevron next to each.
- Click the Submit button in the upper or lower right to save the changes.
You should now see your selected colors in the course menu.
You should open each main area of the Control Panel to familiarize yourself with the various functions of each area.
If you would like to complete a fun supplemental activity, you can create a course banner and add it to your course. The banner appears on the page designated as the entry page, usually the Announcements or a Homepage module page.
Create a Course Banner
There are many ways you create a banner, including with the following free resource:
- Pixlr image editor : This full-featured and free web-based image editor is similar to Adobe's Photoshop and those of you who have worked with that program will feel very comfortable. This tool includes layers, filters, editing, and all of the basic tools you need to create good graphics. After you finish editing, you can save the work file to use later and you can save the final product in a number of different formats.
- Create Banner with PIXLR for Blackboard Course (movie, 3:47)
This short tutorial will guide you through the steps to create a banner from an existing graphic. You will learn how to crop the image and add layers of text.
Add a Banner to Your Course
You will add your banner by navigating to the Teaching Style option under Customization in the Control Panel. The short movie below will guide you through this process.
Adding a Banner to Your Course Entry Point (movie, 1:52)Return to top of page.