KU's Learning Management System

Blogs

Blog writing assignments are a medium for reflective learning. For topics such as daily experiences or the progression of a project, blogs are ideal because of their chronological structure. Your students can have individual blogs or your groups can have shared blogs. Video, audio, images and links to external websites can also be included. This is an effective tool for students to post short pieces of writing and receive feedback from instructors or peers through comments.

KU offers instructors two different tools for incorporating blogs into their Blackboard courses: Blackboard Blogs and Campus Pack Blogs. Making a choice between these tools depends on your instructional needs, as each tool has their own advantages and disadvantages. Please see the following for a comparison of Blackboard and Campus Pack Blogs, Wikis and Journals:

Options for Blogs, Wikis, and Journals

We have highlighted a few key points for you to consider when selecting which set of tools you will use. If you have any additional questions about the functionality of these tools please contact KU Educational Technologists at itedtech@ku.edu or 785-864-2600 for further assistance.


Blackboard Blogs, Wikis, and Journals

  • Allows for creation of multiple blogs, wikis, and journals for a course or individual. Groups are limited to only one blog, wiki, or journal through the Groups tool.
  • Does not allow for the creation of assignment templates for easy management and copying of prompts.
  • Does not allow for blogs, wikis, or journals to be exported outside of the Blackboard system.
  • Offers integration with Needs Grading in Blackboard. Grading can be done while viewing students' posts, and grades will automatically transfer to the Grade Center.
  • Allows Instructors to use Blackboard Rubrics for grading.
  • Does not allow Instructors to make blogs, wikis, and journals "read-only" after a specific date. Instructors only can only set availability restrictions.
  • Blogs, wikis, and journals will take on the theme of the Blackboard course.
  • Users must be logged into Blackboard to be able to access blogs, wikis, or journals.

Campus Pack Blogs, Wikis, and Journals

  • Allows Instructors to create multiple blogs, wikis, and journals for a course, individual, or group. Personal blog sites must be created for each individual.
  • Allows for creation of templates to easily manage and copy prompts for group blogs, wikis, and journals.
  • Allows for blogs, wikis, and journals to be exported as HTML.
  • Does not display within Needs Grading, however, Instructors can select grading as an option, and a grade column in the Grade Center will be created. All grading requires the user to have two browser windows open, one to view the Campus Pack activity and one to view the Grade Center where scores are entered.
  • Does not allow for rubric grading.
  • Allows Instructors to customize access and editing permissions for blogs, wikis, and journals.
  • Allows customization of blog, wiki, and journal themes independent of a Blackboard course theme.
  • Blogs, wikis, and journals can be accessed outside of Blackboard.

For more information about Blogs, select from the following:


Blackboard Blogs

Blackboard Blogs: Basics

How to Create a Blog Topic

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON.
  2. On the Control Panel, expand the Course Tools section and select Blogs.
  3. On the Blogs listing page, click Create Blog on the action bar.
  4. On the Create Blog page, type a Name for the blog.
  5. Type optional Instructions for the blog. Format the text and add images, links, multimedia, mashups, and attachments using the functions in the content editor, if needed. Attachments you add using the content editor can be launched in a new window and have alternate text added to describe the attachment. Any files you upload from your computer are saved in Course Files or the Content Collection in the top-level folder.
  6. For Blog Availability, select the Yes option to make it available to users.
  7. For Blog Date and Time Restrictions, you can set a blog to display on a specific date and time and to stop displaying on a specific date and time. Select the Display After and Display Until check boxes to enable the date and time selections. Display restrictions do not affect the blog availability, only when it appears.
  8. In the Blog Participation section, select Course (all students can post and comment) or Individual to All Students (each student has a blog, students can add a post only to their own blog, they can add a comment to any blog). Optionally, select Allow Anonymous Comments for individual blogs or Allow Anonymous Entries and Comments for course and group blogs.
  9. In the Blog Settings section, select Monthly or Weekly Index Entries.
    • Optionally, select the check box to Allow Users to Edit and Delete Entries.
    • Optionally, select the check box to Allow Users to Delete Comments.
  10. In the Grade Settings section, select No grading or the Grade option and type the number of Points possible. Points possible will apply to one or more entries made by the user to the blog topic. After you enable grading, a column is created automatically in the Grade Center. It is permanently gradable, and you cannot change the setting to No grading. If you decide later that you do not want to grade, change the Points possible to zero.
  11. Optionally, select the check box for Show participants in needs grading status and from the drop-down list, select the number of entries required. Applying this setting will show the needs grading icon in the Grade Center and place the entries in the queue on the Needs Grading page after the specified number of entries are made.
  12. Optionally, associate a rubric by pointing to Add Rubric to access the drop-down list. To learn more, see Rubrics.
  13. Click Submit.

You can also provide links to blogs in course areas such as content areas, learning modules, lesson plans, and folders.


How to Comment on a Blog Entry

Because blogs are meant to be read by others, students can comment on one another’s blog entries, whether they belong to an individual, the course, or a group.

You determine if users may make anonymous comments and delete them. As the instructor, you can delete any user’s comment by clicking the X. After they are posted, users cannot edit their comments.

  1. On the Blogs listing page, select a blog title.
  2. On the blog’s topic page, select a blog to view by selecting the user’s name in the sidebar in the All Course Members drop-down. The user’s blog entries open in the content frame.
  3. Click Comment following the user’s entry. The Comment box appears.
  4. Type a comment in the Comment box.
  5. If enabled and appropriate, select the check box for Comment on Entry as Anonymous.
  6. Click Add. Below the entry, click the Comments link shown with a number to view the comment.

How to Edit a Blog

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON.
  2. On the Blogs listing page, access a blog's contextual menu.
  3. Select Edit.
  4. On the Edit Blog page, make changes.
  5. Click Submit.

How to Delete a Blog

If you no longer need a blog, you can delete it. Deleting a blog is permanent. On the Blogs listing page, select Delete from the blog's contextual menu.

If a blog is gradable, the Delete Confirmation page appears. You need to perform extra steps to remove a gradable blog.

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON.
  2. On the Blogs listing page, access a blog's contextual menu.
  3. Select Delete.
  4. Click OK in the warning pop-up. The Delete Confirmation page appears. You have two options:
    • Do not select check boxes: The blog is deleted, but the Grade Center column and scores you have assigned are retained. For example, all student entries are graded and you want to keep the Grade Center column for the final grade calculations. If you delete a blog, yet retain the Grade Center column, you can delete that column from the Grade Center at any time.
    • Select the check boxes: The grade column in the Grade Center and the blog are deleted. For example, if you do not want to include the grade column for the blog entries in the final grade, you can safely delete all.
  5. Click Remove to complete the deletion.

How to Change the Availability of a Blog

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON.
  2. On the Blogs listing page, select the check box next to the appropriate blog.
  3. Point to Availability on the action bar to access the drop-down list.
  4. Select Make Available or Make Unavailable.

How to Add a Blog Link to the Course Menu

If you want students to access the blogs tool often, you can add a link to the course menu for one-click access to the tool. You can customize the name of the link as needed.

  1. Change Edit Mode to ON and point to the plus sign above the course menu. The Add Menu Item drop-down list appears.
  2. Select Tool Link.
  3. Type a Name for the link.
  4. From the Type drop-down list, select Blogs.
  5. Select the Available to Users check box.
  6. Click Submit.

Blackboard Blogs: Grading

How to Grade Blog Entries for Individuals

You can begin the grading process for blogs from the Grade Center, the Needs Grading page, and the Course Tools section in the Control Panel.

While specifying blog settings, if you did NOT select the Show participants in needs grading status box and select a minimum number of entries, the needs grading icon will not appear in the Grade Center, on the blog topic page, and items do not appear on the Needs Grading page.

The in progress icon shows in the Grade Center cell and in a blog:

  • For student activity that does not meet the minimum number you set.
  • If you did not select the Show participants in needs grading status check box.

Use the following steps to grade blog entries.

  1. Access the blog topic page and select the blog entry or entries to grade. The user’s blog entry or entries open in the content frame.
  2. Type a point total in the Grade box. If you associated a rubric for this graded blog, expand and complete the rubric. To edit an existing grade, click in the Grade box and change the grade.
  3. Optionally, type Feedback for the student. In the Add Notes section, make notes that appear only to you and the grader role. You can also use the spell check function in the bottom of each text box. The icon for Click to open full content editor gives you access to all the content editor functions for formatting text and adding URLs, attachments, images, mashups, and multimedia.
  4. Click Submit to add the grade, feedback, and grading notes to the Grade Center.

Grading a Group Blog

You can read all the entries for a group blog and add one grade on the blog topic page. Users with entries that need grading are indicated with the needs grading icon—the exclamation mark—in the Grade Center and on the blog topic page in the All Group Members drop-down list. In addition, the group blog is listed on the Needs Grading page.

On the group blog page, the grading sidebar appears, listing all group members.

When you add a grade for a group blog, the grade is automatically given to all members of the group and is populated in the corresponding column in the Grade Center for each group member. All members are assigned a grade, even if a member did not contribute, although you can change this grade. Students can view their group blog grades in My Grades and in the group blog by selecting their names in the All Group Members drop-down list.

Remember, while specifying blog settings, if you did NOT select the Show participants in needs grading status box and select a minimum number of entries, the needs grading icon will not appear in the Grade Center, on the blog topic page, and items do not appear on the Needs Grading page.

The in progress icon shows in the Grade Center cell and in a blog:

  • For student activity that does not meet the minimum number you set.
  • If you did not select the Show participants in needs grading status check box.

Change an Individual Member’s Group Grade

You can assign an individual group member a different grade than the group by editing the grade for the member. If you change a group member’s grade, and you assign a new group grade, the new group grade will not affect the individual’s new grade. The grade the individual member received and the grade the group received are both shown. The individual’s new grade will not appear to the other group members.

In the grading sidebar, click the pencil icon to change the group grade for a member. Type a new grade and click the check mark icon below the grade to save it. This grade becomes an override grade.

The group grade and the individual group member’s edited grade appear in the Grade Center in the column that was automatically created when you enabled the graded group blog. Grayed out cells appear in the group blog column for course members who are not part of the group.


Revert a Member’s Edited Grade

You can revert a member’s edited grade to the original group grade, which all group members received.

In the grading sidebar, click the pencil icon for the user with the edited grade. Click the left-pointing arrow to change the grade to the original group grade. The override icon is removed. The change also appears in the Grade Center.


Delete a Group

If you no longer need a group, you can delete it. If the group has gradable items connected to it, the Delete Confirmation page appears. You can retain any group grade columns you need. On the Delete Confirmation page, do not select the check boxes for any columns that you want to preserve.


Campus Pack Blogs

Add Blogs in Content Areas

You can add a blog to a content area and assign access to individual users, groups of users, or the entire class by following these steps:

  1. Access any content area, such as Course Documents or Assignments.
  2. Put cursor on Tools button, select Campus Pack Blog .
  3. Provide a name for the blog. Use something specific, such as “Week 1 Assignment” or “Group Project 1.”
  4. Provide a short description of the blog.
  5. Select the Deployment setting to indicate the purpose of a blog in your course.
    • Single Copy creates one blog accessible to the entire class.
    • One Per Group creates a group blog. Then select a group (or all groups).
    • One Per Person creates a private space for each student. Then select Student as a user role.
  6. If you want to create a column in Grade Center for the blog, click the Create Grade Book Entry checkbox and complete the information.
  7. Click the Add button.
  8. A new page will open. If you created a group or individual blog, you must select Click here to make it available.

Customize a Single Copy Blog for the Entire Class

  1. Click the View link of the blog.
  2. Expand the Settings menu.
  3. You will see options for Subscribe, Export, Settings, Permissions, Widgets, Assessments, Page List and Recycle at the top.
    • Subscribe – Clicking the Email Notifications checkbox, makes it so that you (not your students) receive an email summary of blog entries. Each student also has this option.
    • Export – Allows you to export a blog as your own copy. This feature is useful when you need to copy the blog to another course.
    • Settings – Edit the blog title, change the availability, select a different color scheme and upload a banner.
    • Permissions – Control the availability of various blog features to students. There are three types of roles:
      • Viewers can view a blog but cannot participate.
      • Authors can make new entries and edit content.
      • Owners have complete control over the blog.

      To edit permissions:

      1. Click the tab for the role you want to modify. Default roles are Authors, Owners, and Viewers.
      2. Click Customize.
      3. Under Author Role Permissions, click to uncheck the checkbox for options that your students do not need to access, such as Export Blog, Copy Blog and Delete Own Entries.
      4. When you’re finished, click the Save & Exit button at the bottom of the page.
    • Widgets: Provides additional functionality, allowing students to add comments to other students’ entries or adding tags or ratings to the blog. Click the appropriate Add button under the Available tab to enable a widget. For example, you can use the Viewer comments widget as follows:
      1. On the In Use Tab, click the Viewer Comments link. If you can’t see the Viewer Comments link, click the Available tab, then click the Add button under Viewer Comments.
      2. Select the Permissions you want to set.
    • Assessment – See overall statistics of the entire class and individual student’s statistics.
    • Attachments – Allows you to delete files attached to the blog.
    • Recycle – Allows you to reuse the shell of blog (without users and contents).

Customize Group Blogs or Individual Blogs

  1. Click the View link of the blog.
  2. You will see the Assignment Template and Assignment Settings menu at the top.
  3. Under Assignment Template:
    1. To create a template document for assignment, click Add New Page.
    2. Type in a title.
    3. Click the Continue button.
    4. Type in the text.
    5. Click the Save & Exit button.
    6. At the top of the screen, you will see the menu with Subscribe, Export, Settings, Permissions, Widgets, Page List, Attachment and Recycle options. These allow you to customize group or individual blogs.
    7. For more about these menu options, refer to “Customize a Single Copy Blog for the Entire Class” above.
  4. Assignment Settings:
    1. Add instructions to students.
    2. Click the Save button.

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