Using Word to create a ‘launch page’ within Blackboard

There have been various debates over the last few years about the use of VLE within education, and without going down that road at this point in time, there is one thing that I do find frustrating with VLEs – and that it the way that people getting sucked into ‘dumping’ resources and links into the VLE in a purely linear fashion. Moodle isn’t too bad if you learn to use the book, lesson or webpage tools but Blackboard isn’t as good at this, and once you have added more than about 7 items within a folder you are forcing the student to do lots of scrolling.

So if I am using Blackboard what I do instead is to create what I call a ‘launch page’ for each topic or week that I am teaching – where I provide links to the resources as before, but rather than them just appearing in a linear list – I provide a narration around the links, guiding the students through the resources in a more logical way, and in my opinion a more attractive away.

A launch page is just a simple web page (html) that you are upload into the VLE – if you have html skills and software you could use them, or if like me you don’t then you can use either PowerPoint or Word (or Excel). The next 2 video clips will take you through the process using Word, but the principles for PowerPoint are the same.

The first video shows how to create the launch page.

The second video shows how to upload this package to Blackboard 9.

At first this method may sound slower than the conventional method of upload files directly, but with practice it can become quicker – however if you need to change any of the content then you do need to edit the word document, resave it as a webpage, zip it up again and re-upload to Blackboard so doesn’t work well if the resources are regularly being changed or updated. A huge advantage of this though is that it is very easy to move the whole topics worth of resources from one system to another – so great if you teach at different organisations, or different courses within the same organisations, and if you need to work offline for any reason you can just easily copy the whole folder onto a memory stick and it will work from there.

Another thing to note is that you cannot track the access to individual files from this method, only access to the topic as a whole.

For me though, the additional pedagogical benefits that this method brings in terms of providing a sound narration around the resources, and the re-usability of the resources in different contexts is why I choose to use this method in my teaching.


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