Blackboard Course Preparation & Copy Guide for Online Course Instructors

Note: When copying course content from one Ultra shell to another, it is recommended that the Orientation & Overview module, Library and My Textbook links in the Destination Course (where content is being copied to) be deleted in this shell prior to the copy being completed if the Source course (where content is being copied from) already contains these elements within it.  This will prevent duplication of these items in the Destination shell.


To complete a course copy from an Ultra Shell to an Ultra Shell, see the Copy Course Content tutorial.


Preparing Your Blackboard Course Shell (Ultra Course View) 

Preparing your Blackboard shell for a new term is one of the most important tasks to master when teaching online. Research indicates that the first day often sets the classroom dynamic for the remainder of the course. This concept is no different in the online learning environment, and as such, proper course preparation is key to your success as an online educator and key to your students’ comfort within the course.

After Content is Copied into Your Section: Online Course Preparation Steps

The Instructor Course Guide module provided within your course materials will assist in set-up of the provided content.  Use these instructions as well:

  1. Review the course shell, syllabus, and schedule to become familiar with the course structure and activities.

  2. Write a welcome announcement. For announcements that already exist in the course, review and edit these as needed. If desired, add a short video message to announcements -- this is a great way to let students hear your voice and show your personality.  

  3.  Update the instructor information in the Meet Your Instructor area within the Course Orientation and Overview module to provide your own details. An instructor biography can humanize the course and reduce student anxiety.

  4.  Add a link and/or upload your syllabus to the "Syllabus" area within the Course Orientation and Overview module. (In the Instructor Course Guide module you will find a syllabus example to use as a guide in creating your own). 

  5.  Notice typos, a link not working, or something inaccurate in the course? Please let your Faculty Support Coordinator know so they can assist with corrections (

  6.  Update Due Dates in the Course using the Batch Edit feature to collectively update due dates throughout the course. Also, update Visibility using the Batch Edit feature.

  7.  Review the Gradebook settings (gradebook overview, grade schema, overall grade, etc.). 

  8.  If the course has virtual class meetings, create a purposeful agenda for live meeting sessions, and identify/post meeting days/times.

  9.  If the course has quizzes and exams, read the set-up information and understand what types of exam security measures are being used.

  10.  Ensure consistency! Verify course settings, instructions, due dates, and point allotments within the course are consistent with your syllabus. Ensure the Gradebook overall grade matches with your syllabus and the points add up to the total.

  11.  Make the course available to the students two to three weeks before the start date. See the Course Availability How To Guide.

  12. When you teach this course again, Copy Content from this shell to additional or future course sections you are teaching. Should a course be undergoing a revision or update, your Faculty Support Coordinator will let you know and will provide you with updated content rather than you copying content forward.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. I am teaching multiple sections of the same course within the same term. Is there something I can do to better manage and/or combine my courses?
Yes. A merged shell can be created, which will combine the enrollments of all of your sections into one Blackboard shell. To request a merged course shell submit a Merged Course Request ticket.  To learn more about merged shells, see Merged Course FAQ.


Q2. Why do I have to enter the destination shell before the copy to remove existing menu items? This seems like a lot of work to me.
Removing content  items in the destination shell is optional, but it does help to alleviate additional work following the course copy. Follow the best practices and you'll see that It creates an exact view of your course as it looked in the source course, with everything in the same order in the course content area.

Q3. Where can I go for additional Blackboard technical support?
The OIT Help Desk is the first resource at your disposal. They can be reached at (989) 774-3662,, or Also, the Blackboard Knowledge Base is available 24/7 and contains many articles and how-to guides for faculty.


Q4. How do I know when to contact the OIT Help Desk versus my Faculty Support Coordinator or my Department?

A4. The OIT Help Desk should be contacted for any technical or Blackboard course questions (e.g. how do I make my course available? How do I download assignments that my students have submitted? Etc.). Your Faculty Support Coordinator should be contacted for questions specific to managing your online course with the course content provided by CIS.  Departments schedule course offerings, manage waitlists/late registration/over capacity requests, and staff the course sections. 


Q5. How can I find replacement links for University website links that have moved?

A5. There is a Website Link Replacement Knowledge Base article that the Faculty Support Coordinator keeps updated with commonly-used University resource links for online course sections (for use in Blackboard and on course syllabi). 

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Article ID: 37296
Wed 5/22/24 12:03 PM
Tue 6/4/24 8:52 AM