Blackboard Tip: The Very Cool Calendar

I love showing MCC instructors new to Blackboard its calendar features. I’ve seen many smiles at its drag-and-drop functionality and believe its one of the big selling points in terms of advantages over the old ANGEL days.

Check out the Blackboard-produced training video below and then read on for more MCC-specific information.

Note: MCC has “Blackboard Home” instead of a “My Institution” tab, and the calendar is not linked from there. You can still get to it via Global Navigation (click on your name, then the calendar icon) and from within courses.

As I explain in training sessions, the calendar is very different from ANGEL’s. Instead of one calendar per course, Blackboard provides one calendar per user. The in-course view of the calendar is just that — a link to the tool. Instructors and students see the entries for all the courses they are enrolled in. As covered in the video, users can change the color coding of courses as they like, or uncheck boxes to alter the “layers” of calendar they see at any given time.

The Institution calendar layer includes college-wide events such as holidays and start dates. (It’s managed by Blackboard Support.)

Here are few other points covered in the video, but important to note again, or further explain.

• You can click-and-drag and event to change it globally. This means that an instructor drag-and-dropping a due date from Sept. 1 to Sept. 2 changes that due date in the item itself (and the grade center), not just on the calendar. (What the speaker in the video means by “sync automatically.”)

• Instructors giving an activity a due date automatically puts it in the calendar. Remember, due date is not the same as access date, but each graded activity has a due date option right in the settings. (Go to Course Tools > Discussion Board to edit forums.)

• Students can access an activity with a due date, or view their grade on it, right from the calendar entry. It’s just a link right into the course.

• Instructors can grade or edit an activity with a due date right from its calendar entry. It’s just a link right into the course.

• Users can add as many personal calendar items as they like. Just click on the date or on the + in the upper right.

• Users can export the calendar as an .ics file or direct URL and upload it to external calendar apps such as Outlook, Google or iCal. (Keep in mind, an exported calendar won’t update with changes made to the Blackboard original, though.)

Excited to give all your graded activities due dates? Check out the Date Management tool for an easy way to make sure you’re set for fall.
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Alex is online course support technician at IDS, working to support all online, hybrid and LMS-enhanced instructors and students in using Blackboard and several media servers. She's also the administrator for the MCC Blogs network. You can reach her at acgarrison@mccneb.edu.

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Posted in Blackboard, Blackboard Learn for instructors

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