Teaching and Learning Supports for North Island College Instructors
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BB Learn: Streamlining Courses

Here are a collection of suggestions for making your Blackboard Learn courses easier to navigate use and visually attractive to aid in student learning. These are essentially design and layout tips.


  • Landing/Home Page: Have course open to a ‘welcome’ or ‘about course’ or ‘orientation page’ so students always land on a page with helpful information and can return each time and maybe find updated items
  • Menu: not too long to see all items past first scroll, most frequently used items/most important items, short descriptive titles that make sense
  • Orientation Video: instructor giving a brief tour of the course to highlight sections and share how to move around, put video on first page
  • Language: consistently used to mean the same thing across one course and many courses (e.g., Course Outline, BlueJeans, Assignments, Assessments etc.)
  • Colour Titles: use colour in your titles of items, assignments, discussions, etc…so students can see some differentiation to help with movement around the site (e.g., all quizzes are orange in colour, all discussion boards purple etc.)
  • Blackboard Learn Student Training Course: Recommend your students check out this self-paced course to feel more comfortable navigating around and using the tools in Blackboard Learn (found on left menu under Digital Learning Supports)



  • Remove icons and just show text to make your course appear more modern and updated (e.g., remove the yellow folder icon and other icons by going to the top of the item and clicking on the arrow to select your choice of display)



  • Useful for modules, weeks, topics (1920 px X 200 px is a good size)
  • Look for abstract images on Unsplash, Pexels or Pixabay that are high quality photos and free to download (choose size that has 1920 px as the width already)
  • Look for images that work together (e.g., all same colour or same theme) and that can be cropped to 200 px high and still see something
  • Put at top of each content module and then repeat again at top to reinforce the section you are in (just insert image into the top of the ‘item’)
  • Do not use Blackboard’s “banner” feature



  • Use a sans serif font as your base font (e.g., Arial, Helvetica or Verdana)
  • Enlarge fonts to next size up to emphasize titles and sub-titles and bold them (never underline or looks like a link)
  • Do not use colours with poor contrast (e.g., light, pale colours on a white background)



  • Create a “weekly to do list” for students to know what they need to do each week
  • Use the Announcements tool to share updates each week, pointing to the ‘weekly to do list’ and also other tips and suggestions for the week
  • Use the calendar to post the schedule of classes, assignment due dates and other important items
  • On the front of a content module outline what is inside by listing the content, videos, assignments and activities
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