As you (hopefully) already know, when your Blackboard courses are created here at Palomar (up to 90 days prior to the start of the semester), those courses are all unavailable to students. That’s why students cannot immediately start horsing around in your course site as soon as they enroll.
However, until and unless you make your course available to students, they can’t get in. Even if you post a bunch of handouts, build assessments, and set up discussion board forums, and tell your students to go use them… if the course is unavailable still, the students can’t.
“How can I tell if my course is unavailable,” I can hear asked. It’s not too subtle, really. For starters, when you first log into Blackboard and look at your course in that My Courses module, the class will say “(not currently available)” right next to the course name. Also, when you are inside your course, up in the upper left corner, in the breadcrumb trail, you should see a similar notation.
For those of you already familiar with reading the breadcrumb trail, you’ll note that at the time I took that screen capture I was in the Properties controls of the Customization area. You can get there via your Control Panel.
In there, you should see a control for your course availability; set it to Yes, and then hit the Submit button at the top or bottom of the screen.
Okay, that’s not too bad. Plus, it’s the only way to allow your students to begin using the contents of your Blackboard course. Mind, it can get a bit tedious having to go into each of your courses – should you be teaching multiple courses – and have to set each Availability control separately. “Dave,” I can hear you ask, “isn’t there some way I can control the availability of multiple courses from a single control panel?”
Glad you asked; yes there is.
If you navigate back to the “My Palomar” screen, which you see when you first log on to the system, take a look over at the left of the screen. In a box labeled Tools, near the bottom, you should see a link labeled Instructor Quick Tools. Click that, then click Course Availability.
You should see all your courses, and toggling the availability On or Off is as simple as a click on each switch. Switches, notice please, that are even color coded for your convenience.
If you haven’t yet, make certain you have made your Blackboard course available… preferably before you tell your students to go in and do something.