Skip to Main content

Shortcuts When Updating From a Template

Preparing a Blackboard course for a new semester can be a monstrous undertaking, so reusing content from a previous semester or a course template can save a lot of time.

The only trouble is, you may need to make several updates before the course is ready to go. Good thing we have a couple of Blackboard tools at our disposal that can help you use time more efficiently. Let’s take a look.

Date Management

Here's a view of the Date Management page in Blackboard. Here's a view of the Date Management page in Blackboard. If you have several assignments, quizzes and/or tests that are submitted through Blackboard, the Date Management tool might be your new go-to.

You’ll find this one under the “Course Tools” dropdown, and you’ll see right away that it lists the due dates, availability, and adaptive release dates for each assessment. You can sit with your new syllabus and go straight down the list updating the dates for each item.

A word of caution though, the other Instructional Designers on our campus have told me sometimes saving the new availability and adaptive release dates from this tool are not always reliable. The due date seems to save correctly, but if you are big into limiting the availability of some assessments, you may want to double-check a few of those changes before you update your whole list.

Column Organization and Edit Column Information

Here's a view of the Column Organization page in Blackboard. Here's a view of the Column Organization page in Blackboard. Next we’ll navigate over to the Grade Center. Using the “Manage” dropdown, select “Column Organization.” Here, you can reorder the columns of your grade book and apply categories to columns. It’s a great page to help you see all your assessments in one list.

Once you have your columns organized to your liking, you may want to edit the points associated with each assessment, or you may want to add a grading rubric or even change the due date. You can easily update that information by using the dropdown menu for that column in the Grade Center and selecting “Edit Column Information.” No more hunting around your course to find each assessment!

Link Checker

Here's a view of the Link Checker page in Blackboard. Here's a view of the Link Checker page in Blackboard. I completely support using curated content (i.e., content created by other sources) within your Blackboard course, but sometimes links change or websites become defunct. You’ll rarely be made aware of changes like that, so cue the Link Checker tool in Blackboard.

You’ll find it under the “Course Tools” menu, and as soon as you select it, it runs an external links validator. After just a few moments, you’ll see a list of all the external links used in your course, along with the location, and information about whether or not the content is available and valid.

You’ll be able to quickly see if you have invalid (or broken) links and you can select to hide that content. However, I recommend using the location information to investigate how that external link was being used in the course.

You may need to find replacement content as opposed to just hiding it. Or you may be using that link within a content item with lots of other information that students need. If that’s the case, you certainly don’t want to just select to hide the item.

Any Other Tools?

Those are a few of the tools I like to use when I’m helping faculty prepare a course for a new semester, but you may have others that you’re using. I’d love to hear from you and get an idea about what works for you.

Jayna Phinney
Jayna Phinney

Jayna Phinney is the Instructional Technology Specialist for the ASU College of Science and Engineering. Contact her at or 325-486-6264.



Contribute to the Blog

  • Do you want to write your own blog post or submit an idea for a future post? Contact Jayna Phinney at or 325-486-6264.