BbWorld 2013 Session – Making Blackboard Beautifully Functional

Unique customization of the look, feel and functionality of Bb Learn

Russ Bazydlo, Learning Technologist, Strayer University

ELU – customized Blackboard Learn environment

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Transformed Blackboard to a customized system for corporate training and organizational development, using Tab Level to deliver most of the content.

    CSS Module Customization

Blackboard is a module based system
CSS theme has nearly 15k lines of code!
Created a CSS style sheet and modified theme_specific.css in the Blackboard theme package to include that style sheet
Include custom style sheet in theme package, upload to Blackboard
Created module using class selector, then create HTML module in Blackboard and cut/paste code created into content for module
Created an interactive module using Storyline

    Bb Core CSS Customization

Used Inspect Element in Google Chrome (similar to Firebug for Firefox) to find the specific element to be changed
Using Dreamweaver, locate and change CSS in the theme_specific.css file
Example: Made sub-tabs the same color as the background so they would not show

    Brands, Themes and User Accounts

Development testing on Bb server by creating a test user, with custom role, and create test theme and brand targeted to just that role so that user will be the only one that sees it. Will allow testing without making any major changes and target specifically to that Blackboard instance.

    External Technologies

Articulate Storyline – SCORM compliant, tracks progress and show videos based on info
Skillsoft – course library and books 24/7. Deep linked in every course to make resource available to all courses.
Blackboard Federated Search Customization – catalog search, search box on main page
Content Collection – for each tab, a content collection area with elements stored and can be changed easily

    System Navigation

Course self-enrollment and access – customized links within modules lead to navigation areas

Create, Test, Have Fun!

side note: I have so many ideas and can’t wait to experiment with customization when we return from Las Vegas. It is possible to make Blackboard look like a well-designed website instead of a learning management system.

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One thought on “BbWorld 2013 Session – Making Blackboard Beautifully Functional

  1. Am so looking forward to seeing your experiments when you get back! Love the idea of testing, branding and targeting to specific users before rolling out to campus. We’re leaving our previous LMS in the dust… students and faculty will be so surprised by the professional look of a website when they look at online classes!

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