Rewind three years to my first day of class in freshman year and my first professor’s mention of Blackboard: “You can find the worksheets on Blackboard.” Blackboard? I turned around to look at the actual blackboard and found nothing but chalk. A few awkward questions later, I found out that Blackboard is the learning management system (LMS) that USF uses. It took me a whole semester to learn how to properly use this system, so now I’m going to simplify the process for you.
First thing first: how do you get to Blackboard? The easiest way is to log into USFconnect, and click on the “Learning Technologies” tab. At the top of that page, you will see a green “Login” button. Next to it, it says “Click on the button to login to your Blackboard courses.” And once you click, you will be on Blackboard.
Once you’re on Blackboard, you can click on each of your classes, and see whatever the professor has posted. You will be automatically added into your registered classes. If you don’t see your course, it doesn’t mean that you’re not enrolled; it just means that your professor doesn’t use Blackboard for that class or has yet to make the Blackboard site available to students.
If you want to personalize your page, you can click on the “Personalize Page” button on the top right, under “Home” and “Courses.” If you click on “Add Module,” you can add a module to your home page. A module is a box that displays a certain type of information, such as “What’s New” and “Needs Attention.”
How much information a professor’s page displays depends on what they have shared. The information is usually in a green and grey rectangle on the left hand side. But if a professor wants to, he or she can change the settings. Typically, a professor lets you see “Announcements,” the “Syllabus,” the “Class Discussion,” “Assignments,” and “My Grades.” You can also email the entire class or just the professor by clicking on “Email.” Sometimes, professors post links to outside sources, such as Gleeson Library or something relating to the class. (They can even post a random YouTube cat video, but I doubt that that would be applicable to their class.)
Some very cool features of Blackboard that aren’t used too often are the online quizzes and the direct link to Turnitin.com. Professors can post quizzes for students (graded or not graded) on their Blackboard page, so that the quizzes do not take class time. And the direct link to Turnitin.com makes it easier to submit papers to the website. If you have any questions, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the ITS Help Desk at 415-422-6668, because this is a lot more comprehensive than a regular blackboard with chalk.