Blackboard Glossary and Tools

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Adaptive Release

This feature allows for the Faculty Member to restrict the access of course content to certain students for a limited period of time, or only after users have met (or fail to meet) predetermined objectives. It accessed by clicking "manage" located to the right of any course content


This is the controller of the system. This user type is able to install and configure,activate or deactivate products on an account, change account settings, and add or remove users from account access. You can contact the administrator via an email to the help desk.


Announcements post timely information critical to a courses success. The Instructor can add, modify, and remove announcements from the Announcements page. When adding an Announcement, Instructors can also send the Announcement as an email to Students in the Course. This ensures that Students receive the announcement even if they do not login to the Course.

Archive Course

Archive Course creates a permanent record of a Course including all the content and user interactions. Archived Courses are saved as .zip files. Archiving a Course does not remove it from the system.


'Not at the same time'. Refers to methods of communication such as email, voice-mail, discussion boards, blogs, and Wiki’s, which do not rely on the sender and recipient being online at the same time.

Assignment Feature

Faculty may create Assignments and post them for Students to complete. Faculty may attach separate files and students may send additional files to the Faculty Member with the completed Assignment. Faculty view and grade Assignments, once they are submitted, from within the Gradebook. (See Turnitin or SafeAssign)



Blackboard is a learning management system. Blackboard courses are accessed using a web browser, which means no special software for either faculty or students is needed in most cases.

Blog Tool

A Blog Tool is a tool which provides an online forum, diary, or journal. An entire class or selected individuals can access, add new entries and comments, if these settings are enabled by instructors.

Breadcrumb Links or Path

Breadcrumb Links or Paths appear at the top of course pages. The links indicate the navigation path and are clickable to return to the previous page that led to the current page.


A browser is a software program that enables a user to access hypertext files from any computer connected to the Internet. Commonly-used browsers include Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Blackboard recommends using Firefox for best results in accessing course materials.  Read more about browser compatibility at Blackboard's KnowledgeBase.

Building Blocks

Building Blocks are tools added to the Blackboard Academic Suite. By enabling added tools the Instructor to manage all the outside tools that the System Administrator has made available and expand the capability of the Blackboard installation.

Button in Course Menu

Each course within Blackboard is created with a series of buttons along the left hand side. These buttons allow access to the different 'Content Areas' within the course.



The Calendar Tool allows users to view events by day, week, month, or year. Upcoming and past events can be viewed and organized into categories.

When the Calendar is accessed through My Blackboard tab, users view all items on their Calendar and have the option to add and modify personal events. When the Calendar is accessed through a course or organization, only those calendar items that relate to the specific course or organization will appear.

Chat / Chat Room

This is known as the Virtual Classroom in Blackboard. It can be used to hold real-time (synchronous), online classroom discussions and question/answer forums. Chat features a community whiteboard where students and faculty can share webpage’s, and provides a forum where guest speakers and subject-matter experts can talk with the class.

Cengage Now

CengageNOW is a Building Block that brings the publishing group Cengage Learning into your course to help organize around the essential activities you perform for class - lecturing, creating assignments, grading, quizzing, and tracking student progress and performance. CengageNOW, in most cases, provides students access to an integrated eBook, interactive tutorials, videos, animations, games and other multimedia tools to help them get the most out of your course.

Check Course Links

This tool allows instructor to check on validity of Web links in 'External Link' items within a course site (it does not check Web links embedded in a normal content item). It can also be used to scan course site for invalid characters which may prevent successful export/archive operation.

Collaboration Tools

The Virtual Classroom has been expanded and divided into two features: The Virtual Classroom and Lightweight Chat. Both are now managed under Collaboration.

Content Area

Faculty use the Content Areas to present information in many formats, from basic text to multimedia. Faculty can add course materials to the Content Areas from the Control Panel.

Control Panel

The Control Panel gives access to the various features and tools available within Blackboard for course design and maintenance. All course administration is done through the Control Panel. It is accessed a menu under the course menu on the left-hand side of each course, which is only visible to users with the role of Instructor, Instructor-Other, Teaching Assistant, Grader, or System Administrator.


A small file or part of a file stored on a World Wide Web user's computer, created and subsequently read by a Web site server, and containing personal information(as a user identification code, customized preferences, or a record of pages visited).

A message stored by a browser. The message is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server.

Copy Course

Copy Course can be used in several different ways: Copy selected Course materials into a new Course to create a new section of the same Course, Copy selected Course materials into an existing Course to share content across several Courses without having to recreate the content in each Course, Copy just enrollments (or enrollments and selected content and tools) to easily move users from one sequential Course to the next Course, or Create an exact copy of a Course, including enrollments and user data.

Course Builder

The Course Builder role has access to most areas of the Control Panel. This role is appropriate for a user to manage the Course without having access to Student grades. 

Note: A Course Builder can still access the Course if the Course is unavailable to Students. A Course Builder cannot remove an Instructor from a Course.


Users click on a link from my blackboard tab to access a Course. The page displays the list of all courses that users were/are enrolled and taught/teach and the course catalog. Students would not be able to see any unavailable courses.

Course Map

This section is an alternative method for Web site navigation.

Course Menu

The left side of the course page that contains links to materials and tools within the course. These links function simply like standard Web pages so far as navigating them and reading them.

Course Navigation Menu

Each course within Blackboard is created with a series of buttons along the left hand side. These buttons allow access to the different 'Content or Tool Areas' within the course. The Instructor or Course Builder can customize as desired.

Course Tools

Student's tools like Course Calendar, View Grades, and Student Manuals would be within this section. Instructors can control access to which tools are available via the customization link.

Criteria / Criterion

The criteria applied to an adaptive release rule narrows the availability of the item it is applied to. Multiple adaptive release rules with numerous criteria may be created or modified using Adaptive Release: Advanced.


Detail View

This view of the course navigation menu displays the folder structure of all course contents, making it possible for the user to navigate directly to a particular location in the course. - See also course map

Digital Drop Box

The Digital Drop Box WAS a personal file storage space for Blackboard users. It is no longer used in Blackboard 9 and up. 

Discussion Board

One of Blackboard's communication tools, Discussion Boards are asynchronous discussion areas where faculty and students can exchange ideas on a topic, post requests for assistance or conduct informal conversation. An overall topic for discussion, a FORUM, is created by the professor; subtopics within the forum are called THREADS and can be added by students. These can be graded by the Faculty by setting up the Grade Forum option.

Below are the terms used to describe Discussion Board features.

• Thread - The initial post and the entire series of replies to that post within a Discussion Board forum.
• Thread Detail - The page that displays the threaded view of all posts in a thread along with the selected post.
• Post - A Discussion Board entry posted to a thread or used to start a thread. Also used as a verb to refer to the act of submitting a post.
• Forum Role - A role type that is assigned to all members of the Discussion Board for each forum and enables specific privileges within the forum. A user may have one role per forum; however, a user’s role in each forum may differ.
• Blocked - A forum role that blocks the user from accessing the forum.
• Reader - A forum role that grants the user the rights to read the contents of a forum. Users with this role may only view content and cannot add or respond to posts.
• Participant - A forum role that grants the user read and write privileges in the forum.
• Moderator - A forum role that grants Participant privileges as well as the ability to modify, delete, and lock posts. If a Moderation Queue is used, the Moderator may also approve or reject posts in the queue.
• Manager - A forum role that grants all privileges. The instructor automatically has these privileges.
• Grade Forum - The process of assigning a grade to a user for their performance in a forum.
• Grade Thread - The process of assigning a grade to a user for their performance in a thread.
• Rate Post - The process of evaluating a post based on a fixed, 5-point scale.
• Collect Posts - The process of selecting one or more posts or threads for inclusion in on a page that can be sorted, filtered, printed, and saved as a document. The collection is gathered into a format that can be sorted, filtered, printed, and saved as a document that can be viewed in a browser.
• Flag - A mark used to call attention to the post.
• Copy Forum - The process of creating a clone of a forum or the forum settings in the same discussion board or in another discussion board in the same course or organization.
• Save Posts - The act of saving a post as a draft.                                                                                                            • Published Post - A post that has been submitted and, if necessary, approved by a moderator.
• Post Position - The position of a post in a thread relative to the other posts.
• Draft - A post that has been saved for future editing.
• Locked Thread - A thread that is visible for reading but cannot be modified. Users may not post to a locked thread.
• Unavailable Thread - A thread that is hidden and inaccessible to all users except forum Managers.
• Hidden Thread - A Thread that is locked and not visible by default. Users may view hidden threads by enabling the Display Hidden Threads feature.

Document Package

A Document Package is a .zip file containing a structure of folders and files. When you add a Document Package to a content area in your course, the folder structure of the zip file will be preserved (reproduced) in Blackboard, so if you have a lot of documents in a hierarchy to upload at once, the data can be zipped preserving folder information and uploaded to Blackboard in one step.


The act of transmitting a file from a computer in another location to your own computer. The opposite of upload, where data is sent from your computer to another location.

Due Date

The due date on an assignment indicates the date and time of day at which an assignment is due. Submissions after the due date and time may no longer be allowed and will be automatically blocked by the system. Only the instructor can enable late submissions.


Early Warning System

The Early Warning system is a tool used to communicate warnings to students that there is a performance problem in a course. Warnings will be generated only when an instructor refreshes the Early Warning System and chooses to send out the warnings.


Instructors can send email to individuals who participate in the Course from the Send Email page. Emails can be sent to individual users or to groups of users within the Course, such as all Teaching Assistants.

Export Course

The Export Course feature creates a package of the Course content that can later be imported and used to teach another Course with the same content. It is important to note that, unlike the Archive Course feature, Export Course does not include any user interactions with the Course—it only includes the content and the tools.

External Link

Links to outside Web sites may be added to Content Areas as External Links. When entering a URL, always enter the full Web address to the link. For example, enter, not or


File Exchange

The File Exchange function allows users within a Group to easily exchange files with their fellow Group members. The File Exchange page displays the current files available for use by the Group members and the option to add files.

Find Student

An Madison College built Building Block that helps an Instructor find a user name of a student when using the student ID number. This is found in the Control Panel under Course Tools and is called Find Username.



Each Course can have its own Glossary of terms. Each entry consists of the term and an accompanying definition. The Glossary must be enabled by the Instructor before Students can view it. To turn on the Glossary, simply enable it as a Course Tool and then add it to the Course Menu.

Grade Center

The Grade Center can record data, monitor student progress and communicate information to students. It is also a valuable tool to assist with making informed decisions to take action to promote student and institutional progress.


A Grader assists the Instructor in the creation, management, delivery, and grading of Assessments. a Grader also assists the Instructor with managing the Grade Center. Note: A Grader cannot access a Course if it is unavailable to Students


Groups enable users to collaborate with each other. Groups usually consist of a smaller group of users in a course or organization, such as study groups or project groups. From a Group page, users may do the following actions if allowed by the instructor:
• send e-mail
• exchange files
• enter discussion forums
• enter Collaboration Sessions


Users with the role of Guest have no access to the Control Panel. Areas within the Course can be made available to Guests. Guest can see no student exchanges.



The Student Homepage on Blackboard is a communication tool used to get acquainted with fellow students in a class. It allows students to post personal information, pictures, and favorite websites, to generate conversation between students. The student will have to create a different homepage for each class he/she takes.


HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language, the common language used for web pages. When entering content into a text box in Blackboard, you can choose to enter as text and format using the WYSIWYG or HTML. Using either the WYSIWYG or HTML to create Blackboard content gives you more control over the appearance of your content. Use HTML if you wish to enter HTML code or embed content using HTML within a Blackboard item.

Hybrid Course

A blended course combining both face-to-face (F2F) and online learning.



Personal response pads used by students in conjunction with a personal response system to participate in classroom discussions and assessments.


Impatica for PowerPoint simply converts the PowerPoint file into a compressed format that is optimized for streaming over the Internet. The Impatica file is typically 95% smaller than the PowerPoint HTML files.

Import Course Cartridge

Course Cartridges enable Instructors to gain access to complete sets of teaching tools provided by academic publishers. In one central location, Instructors can find relevant, publisher-created materials. Once the materials are downloaded to a Blackboard Learning System Course, Instructors are free to customize the content by adding and deleting materials as needed to correlate with specific topics covered in the classroom.

Course Cartridges can serve as supplements to existing online Courses, or provide an excellent start for faculty who are just beginning to develop online teaching strategies. Instructors will benefit from the ease of use, variety, and professional quality of the materials available on Course Cartridges.

Instructors download Course Cartridges from the Course Cartridge Repository and install cartridges into Courses through the Control Panel.

Import (Course) Package

Instructors may use the Import Package page to upload Course materials from another Course. For example, if they have exported a Course they may import the whole Course package, or selected parts of the Course through Import Package.


Instructors have access to all areas in the Control Panel. This role is generally given to those developing, teaching or facilitating the class. Instructors may still access a Course that is unavailable to Students.

Instructor Information/Contact Information

This section holds the instructor's contact information, such as e-mail, office hours, office location, etc. This can also be called contact information.


Items are general pieces of content added to a Course to which files may be attached.



This is a programming language that can be used to write all kinds of programs, from Applets which run in the browser to Midlets that run in Palm handhelds or cell phones to desktop client programs and especially server-side programs including Web server


Javascript is a scripting language that can be used to write small programs in Web pages, such as pop-up menus.


A journal is a tool to which students can post private entries.



Learning Management System (LMS)

Software that is used to design, deliver and manage an online course, such as Blackboard, D2L, Moodle, etc.

Learning Unit

Blackboard Learning Units enable students to follow a structured path for progressing through content. Faculty Members can present content items, files, and assessments in Learning Units. Faculty Members also have the option of enforcing the sequential path or allowing students to access any page within the Learning Unit at any time.

Link Checker

The Course Link Checker allows Instructors to check the links to Content Collection items that have been added to a Course. For example, if an item in the Content Collection is removed after the Instructor has created a link to the item in a Course, the Course Link Checker will detect this and make the Instructor aware of the broken link.


Users login to Blackboard using their original network username and password. Also referred to as Logon.   If your account isn’t activated go to myMadisonCollege and select account activation.


To log out of a Blackboard session, click on the Logout button at the top of the screen. The logout process removes your login information from the Blackboard system and is highly recommended when ending a Blackboard session.


Master Course Shell

A Master Course Shell is a Blackboard course site with no students enrolled in it.  The point of a Master Class is to develop content that you can copy into future semester course shells to use with students. 


The Messages feature gives each Course a private and secure system for communication that functions similar to email. Keep in mind that Messages cannot be sent or received outside of the users in the Course.

My Grades/Tool

Once in the My Grades page, students can view grades that have been posted by the Instructor.  You can view the Item Name, Details, Due Date, Last Submitted, Modified, or Graded, Grade, Points Possible, Average, Median, and any Comments the Instructor may have posted. 


Blackboard modules are information boxes appearing in the Blackboard portal after logging-in to Blackboard. These information boxes can be customized and the changes retained.



People navigating in a virtual environment should follow proper protocols and have good online "manners" generally known as netiquette, or etiquette on the Net.  See also the Online Etiquette Guide.



Personal Information

The User Information pop-up window displays personal information about a user such as name, email address, and any other information the user has chosen to add to their profile.


Some Web sites and courses require additional software programs for your Web browser called "plug-ins," that enable your browser to display various audio, video, or graphics.

Pod Cast

A podcast offers a way for individuals to selectively subscribe to audio or video content over the Internet.

Pools / Pool Manager

A test pool allows the Faculty Member to create and search collections of related questions. Questions can be grouped by any number of criteria, including topic, subject matter or difficulty of question. A question pool will generate a test of randomized questions from the database the Faculty Member creates. Pools can be created from (1) new questions or (2) made up of questions in previously written assessments. Faculty Members can create test pools using the Pool Manager located in the Control Panel.


Collections of multiple student work samples usually compiled over time.


Quick View

This view of the course navigation menu is the traditional button or text view on course menu.



A repository is a set of information of a specific type or types.


A course instructor would post external resources and links here. This can also be called External Links.


Respondus is a tool for creating and managing exams that can be printed to paper or published directly to Blackboard.

Review Status

Review status makes it possible for students to note within Blackboard when they have reviewed content items.


The Roster is a searchable list of students enrolled in a course. By clicking on the name of a student in the roster you can access their Blackboard home page (if they have created one for this course). Email addresses are not generally listed in the roster, although students may choose to make theirs visible. Rosters are automatically copied from the course enrollment.


A rule is a set of criteria that determines the visibility of the content item to users. If multiple rules are created, the content will be visible to the user if any or all the rules are met, depending on how the rules are applied.



Safe Assignment (SafeAssign) is a plagiarism prevention service offered by Blackboard. This tool is designed to assist in the prevention of plagiarism in students' papers.

Scheduled Section


Blackboard Scholar® is a social bookmarking service customized for education. It provides an exciting new way for students and instructors to find educationally valuable resources on the Web.


SCORM is a set of technical standards for e-learning software products. Specifically, SCORM governs how online learning content and Learning Management Systems (LMS) communicate with each other.


Blackboard allows users to search for material that has been added to their courses. As an instructor you may add a Search button to your course, making it easy for students to quickly search within your course.

Send E-maill  -also see email

Users can access e-mail functions for through the Send E-mail page. Users can send e-mail to the following people in a course or organization:

• All Users - Sends e-mail to all users in the course or organization.
• All Students - Sends an e-mail to all Students in the course.
• All Groups - Sends e-mail to all of the groups in a specified course ororganization.
• All Teaching Assistants - Sends e-mail to all of the Teaching Assistants in aspecified course.
• All Instructors - Sends e-mail to all of the Instructors for a specified course.
• All Leaders - Sends e-mail to all of the Leaders for a specified organization.
• Select Users - Sends e-mail to a single user or select users in a specifiedcourse.
• Select Groups - Send e-mail to a single group or select groups in a course ororganization.


A Blackboard Shell is an empty course with no content.  When a shell is requested it will contain a standard set of navigation buttons as well as the current Student Opinion Survey.

Sign-up List

The sign-up list is a tool which you make available through a content area in your course so that students can enroll themselves (sign up) for a tutor group, activities, workshops, essays, etc.

Smart Text

This is the default when viewing Blackboard in Internet Explorer and all-around best choice. Smart Text will automatically convert web addresses entered with an "http://" prefix into clickable links. Smart Text will also recognize and render any HTML tags. See also Plain Text and HTML.

Staff Information

The Staff Information page allows Instructors to post information about themselves, Teaching Assistants, guest speakers, and other Course leaders. The page gives users a resource to look up names, email addresses, office hours, and photographs.

StudyMate Author

StudyMate Author lets instructors create Flash-based activities and games using simple templates. The Flash activities are usable with any web server or can be published directly to Blackboard.

StudyMate Class Server

StudyMate Class Server is the "ultimate study group" for Blackboard courses where teachers and students create study materials in a web-based, collaborative environment.


Enrolled students have access to all areas in the course that contain content and assessments. When the instructor requests a term class, student names are automatically added to course from the PeopleSoft system.


Surveys provide Instructors with an Assessment tool that is useful for polling purposes, evaluations, and random checks of knowledge. The Survey Manager is used to create, add, preview, modify, and remove Surveys.


Blackboard Sync is a solution that lets users receive notifications of changes and updates to their Blackboard Learn™ courses and organizations in external services and devices.


Synchronous communication allows users to login simultaneously from a variety of locations to participate in discussion. For example, a face-to-face or telephone conversation, a video conference and a chat-room discussion are all forms of synchronous communication.


Teaching Assistant

Teaching assistants are enrolled into the course with a combination of development responsibilities. This includes the ability to develop test questions, verify grades, manage users, and many others. The role of a Teaching Assistant is assigned by the course instructor.

Term Class

A Term Class is the designation for a class that is in the current semester and has the students automatically being added to the class via the auto-roster.


Tests are on-line evaluations that can be used to measure a Student’s understanding of the Course. Test properties, such as availability and presentation options, are managed through the Content Area where the Test is added.

Text Box Editor

Smart text, Plain text, or HTML may be used in the Text Box Editor. Options at the bottom of the box allow the user to switch format at anytime.

Smart text should be used if the intent is to display the text in the exact way that it is typed in. Line breaks, tabbing, and other keyboard formatting will be retained with Smart text. Text written with HTML tags will display as rendered text; for example, if a word is typed with bold tags the word appears in bold. Do not use Smart Text to display the actual HTML tags.

Plain text strips any formatting from the text, except for line breaks. The result is completely unformatted text. This may be useful if the user needs to do a lot of copy and pasting of the content, or if the intent is to display code information. For example, if the user wants to show how to write something in HTML, Plain text should be used to retain the HTML tags in the content. Plain text does not work with MathML or the equation editor. Changing a text box that includes a mathematical formula to Plain text will make the formula unreadable.

The HTML option should be used if the user knows HTML and opts to type HTML tags into the Text Box Editor. The result will be content formatted by the HTML tags used.


Turnitin Assignments are securely and seamlessly submitted on Blackboard and are checked for plagiarism using Your students need not create a user account.Safe Assign has replaced this service.



This is the act of submitting or sending a file.


Uniform Resource Locator: The address for each website begins with http://.

User Management

Located in the Control Panel, this area provides tools for the Faculty Member to add, modify and remove users and groups.


The numeric identification for a specific user. This is also called a student identification number and is also used for MyFVTC.

Users / User Roles

A Blackboard user is anyone using Blackboard, whether she/he is teaching staff, students, or administrative staff. Read more about User Roles at Madison College at the Roles and Privileges Within Blackboard 9.1 (PDF, 107 KB).  There are six types of users:

• Instructor: The Instructor role has the highest level of privilege within a course. Typically, the Instructor is the person developing, teaching or facilitating the course.
• Teaching Assistant: Teaching assistants are enrolled into the course with a combination of development responsibilities. This includes the ability to develop test questions, verify grades, manage users, and many others. The role of a Teaching Assistant is assigned by the course instructor.
• Grader: The grader access only permits access to the gradebook. The role of a grader is assigned by the course instructor.
• Course Builder: Course builders have access to all course functions except the gradebook. The role of a course builder is assigned by the course instructor.
• Student: Enrolled students have access to all areas in the course that contain content and assessments. When the instructor matches the development shell to a scheduled course, student names are automatically added to courses by Registration and Records.
• Guest: Guests may enter the course and browse all components. Use the guest feature when guest speakers, visitors, or other faculty members want to view the online classroom environment.


Virtual Classroom / Lecture Hall

The Virtual Classroom (available under Collaboration) has been completely rewritten. There are two separate parts, a basic Lightweight Chat, and the Virtual Classroom/Lecture Hall. Both provide opportunities for synchronous communication. The Virtual Classroom/Lecture Hall has all of the features of Lightweight Chat, but also includes hosting multiple concurrent synchronous sessions, facilitation of small breakouts discussions and whiteboard functions.

 Visual Text Box Editor

The Visual Text Box Editor has three rows of buttons. The first row is required and may not be collapsed. The second and third rows may be collapsed with the arrows to the left of the row.



Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning or WebDAV is a protocol that allows Web server directories to display as folders on a local computer. Users can use these folders like any other folder on their local computer. Users can use WebDAV folders in File Manager.


The Welcome tab contains tools and information about each student's particular courses based on his/her personal preference. Modules are fully customizable depending on the student’s preference.

Wiki Tool

The wiki is a great tool in Blackboard to facilitate your students becoming knowledge creators and for turning Blackboard into a two-way street. A wiki is basically a Web page that anyone with permissions can add to and edit.


What You See Is What You Get - These tools provide an environment similar to a word processor for developing Web pages and entire Web sites.