Tips for Using Blackboard

What is Blackboard?

Blackboard is what we call a “learning management system.” It provides a platform for online teaching, and we use it for face-to-face courses as well.

How Do I Use Blackboard?

Go to the SLU Blackboard login page. You may be prompted to use your username, password, and multi-factor authentication credentials when you login. On the landing page, look for SP2021 SOC-4650-01 & SOC-5650-01.

Getting Around Blackboard

You’ll be taken to the Home Page page, and can use the left-hand menu to access different course modules. Within those modules will be content folders with links to course materials, assignment submission portals, quizzes, and discussion boards. There is also a resources section, that includes access to My Grades, where you can get an overview of points you’ve earned so far.

Netiquette Considerations

Netiquette is a set of cultural norms (we’ll discuss these this semester!) for interacting with classmates online. Different professors might have slightly different ideas about what is appropriate, so don’t assume that everything below applies to all classes. These are adapted from Colorado State’s guide to online discussions and also include some of SLU’s best practices.

  1. No lurking: This class requires active participation, you can’t just follow discussion board conversations. Please participate!
  2. Report Glitches: Blackboard is (kind of crappy) software. Sometimes it doesn’t work right. If for any reason you experience difficulty participating, please call, email, or otherwise inform me of the issue. Chances are others are having the same problem.
  3. Help Others: You may have more experience with online discussion forums than the person next to you. Give them a hand. Show them it’s not so hard. They’re really going to appreciate it!
  4. Be Patient: Read everything in the discussion thread before replying. This will help you avoid repeating something someone else has already contributed. Acknowledge the points made with which you agree and suggest alternatives for those with which you don’t.
  5. Be Brief: You want to be clear—and to articulate your point—without being preachy or pompous. Be direct. Stay on point. Don’t lose yourself, or your readers, in overly wordy sentences or paragraphs.
  6. Write Well: Feel free to be a bit less formal than you would in a paper (contractions are fine), but make sure your work is easy to read. This means correct spelling, grammatical construction and sentence structure are expected.
  7. Cite Your Sources: Another big must! If your contribution to the conversation includes the intellectual property (authored material) of others, e.g., books, newspaper, magazine, or journal articles—online or in print—they must be given proper attribution. Use hyperlinks to reference anything online.
  8. Emojis: I differ from many of my colleagues here. Use them if you want!
  9. Respect Diversity: Respect and be attentive to the diversity of your classmates and instructor. Before communicating, consider your message in the context of the class’ diversity in race, ethnicity, religion, disabilities, gender, sexual orientation, age, social class, marital status, geography, etc. Consider the diversity you can see or know – as well as that you cannot.
  10. Remember We Can’t See You: Be cautious when using humor or sarcasm; without the context of facial expressions or other body language, your tone or intent could be missed or misunderstood by others.
  11. Respect Others' Time: Respect others’ time and life circumstances, which often don’t allow for an immediate response to a question or comment.
  12. No Yelling: Step carefully. Beware the electronic footprint you leave behind. Using bold upper-case letters is bad form, like stomping around and yelling at somebody
  13. No Flaming: Criticism must be constructive, well-meaning, and well-articulated. Please, no tantrums. Rants directed at any other contributor are simply unacceptable and will not be tolerated. The same goes for profanity. The academic environment expects higher-order language.
  14. Remember, You Can’t Un-Ring the Bell: Language is your only tool in an online environment. Be mindful. How others perceive you will be largely—as always—up to you. Once you’ve hit the send button, you’ve rung the bell.
  15. Review and Revise: Review your written posts and responses to ensure that you’ve conveyed exactly what you intended. This is an excellent opportunity to practice your proofreading, revision, and rewriting skills—valuable assets in the professional world for which you are now preparing. I try read my posts out loud. This helps me ensure that grammar and sentence structure are correct, your tone is appropriate, and my post is clear.