Office of Information Technology

Blackboard – Getting Started

The following is a brief introduction to the basic features of our Blackboard Learning Management System. Your program may require you to use additional features that are not described here. More information on these features can be found in the online User Guide accessible from the Tools area of any course, And Blackboard’s On Demand Learning Center at https://ondemand.blackboard.com/students.htm. We’ve included links to several tutorials from the On Demand Learning Center on our main Blackboard Support page.

We have found that your fellow students are often the best resource when questions about Blackboard arise, and we encourage you to collaborate with your classmates as much as possible.

Logging In  

When you go to https://bb.westernu.edu, you go directly to Blackboard’s log in page, where you enter your WesternU username and password .

Blackboard login page 

Once you log in, you’ll see a set of windows. The window on the far right, My Courses, lists the links for the courses you’re enrolled in. Simply click the link to go to the course. 

Blackboard Home Page 

Navigating a Course

The list of buttons or links on the left side of your screen is your course navigation menu (A). From there you can access all of the areas of course. Some course areas will have additional levels of folders containing the content of the course (B).
 Navigating a Blackbaord course

As you can see at the top of the screen image below, Blackboard uses a form of breadcrumb navigation so that you can always see the path you’ve taken (C). You can use these links to skip back to any level at any time.

The icons at the top of the course navigation menu (D) change the menu display as follows:

List Menu icon 

Displays the menu items in a list (default)

Tree Menu icon

Displays the menu items in a tree view, where individual folders can expanded or collapsed.

 Open menu in a new window icon

Displays the menu area in a separate window

 Refresh screen icon

Refreshes the screen (a good idea after making menu changes)

Downloading Files

Files uploaded to Blackboard can still be saved to your local computer for offline viewing by simply clicking on the file and saving it. 

downloading a Blackboard file 

 You may find in some of your courses that the uploaded files have been replaced with links to files located outside of Blackboard, Simply click on the link and you will be given the choice to Open or Save the file.
 downloading a file stored outside of Blackboard

Interactive Tools in Blackboard
 Interactive tools in Blackboard

Within the Tools area you will find interactive applications that you can use in your courses.

  • Collaboration provides a real-time chat area with and without a community whiteboard.
  • Discussion Board is a delayed messaging tool where you post messages to your classmates and respond to their posts.  
  • Blog is a collaborative tool that allows students to post their personal reflection about the Course or discuss and analyze Course related materials.
  • Journal is a self-reflective tool that allows the student to post their personal reflections about the Course or discuss and analyze Course related materials. Unlike blogs, journal entries are for the Instructor’s eyes only.
  • The Wiki tool creates a collaborative space within the course where all students can view, contribute, and edit content. Wikis can also be used as a resource for students to view information and content relevant to their courses.