Course Tools

Announcements: Instructions
To post an announcement for your students within your my.sinclair course:
  1. Log on to the course
  2. Click "control panel"
  3. Click "announcements"
  4. Click "Add Announcements"
  5. Provide a subject and message body
  6. choose the options you desire (for instance restricting the announcement by date, or making it permanent)
  7. To add a link, click in the location box, select "Browse" and find the file (selecting it will place the file name and path within the box)
  8. Click "Submit"

Chat: Instructions
Virtual chat allows instructors and students to participate in real time lessons and discussions and also view archives of previous classroom sessions. Chat can be used to hold real-time, online classroom discussions, TA sessions, office hour type question/answer forums, student team meetings, guest speaker/subject matter expert class presentations, as well as other functions. Keep the following in mind when using chat:
  • Virtual Classroom is a Java application and may take a few moments to load into a browser. All users must have Java enabled browsers to use chat.
  • Due to the synchronous nature of chat, multiple users must participate at the same time. Users should schedule sessions among themselves to ensure attendance (i.e. all users log on at 4:30 p.m. on Friday).
  • Chat can be overwhelming if too many users are present. Small groups work best to keep conversation manageable.

  1. Log on to your course or organization
  2. Click "Communication" on the left navigation bar
  3. Click "Virtual Classroom"
  4. Click "Enter Virtual Classroom"
  5. Once the chat session loads, begin chatting by typing your messages at the blinking prompt at the bottom of the screen and hitting enter
  6. Your message, and those of other participants, will show up in the large white screen area in the middle of the screen.
  7. To log off, select "File" from the menu at the top of the screen, and then "Quit"

Course Utilities: Archiving & Uploading
Archiving or backing up a course saves the course in .ZIP format, allowing it to be restored in a different course, on a different server, or simply saved as a backup. Archiving a course does NOT remove it from the original system. To archive a Blackboard 5.5 course:
  1. Log on to your course and click the "Control Panel"
  2. Select "Course Utilities" and then "Archive Course"
  3. Select the areas of the course you wish to archive
  4. Make sure the radio button next to "Blackboard 5.5 package format" is selected
  5. Click Submit
  6. At the "Receipt" page, click "Here" to download the archive file to your system
  7. Click "Save" and select the directory you wish to save the file
To Upload the file and restore the course in Blackboard 6.0:
  1. Log on to your course and click the "Control Panel"
  2. Under "Course Options" select "Import Package"
  3. Click "Browse" and select the archived file
  4. Select the "Content Areas" you are restoring and click"Submit"
NOTE: Restoring an archived course ADDS the content to the existing course, it DOES NOT overwrite it. To clear out the course, and then restore the archived file, follow the instructions for Course Recycling.

Course Utilities: Course Recycler
Course Recycling allows instructors to select information to be deleted from a course (similiar to resetting a WebCT course). To recycle a course:
  1. Log on to the course and click the "Control Panel"
  2. Under Course Options, select "Recycle Course"
  3. Select the areas of the course you wish to delete (this process CANNOT be undone once it completes)
  4. Type "Remove" in the box and click "Submit"

Digital Dropbox: Instructions
The digital dropbox is a tool that instructors and students can use to exchange files. The dropbox works by uploading a file from a disk or a computer to a depository. Files can be sent back and forth from the user's dropbox to the dropbox of other users.

To upload a file to the dropbox (students will not be able to see the file until it is sent to them):

  1. Log on to the course or organization
  2. Click the "Control Panel"
  3. Under the Course Tools category, select "Digital Drop Box"
  4. Click "Add File"
  5. In the "Title" box, type in a title for the document
  6. Click in the "File" box, select "browse" and find the file on disk or your local drive
  7. In the "Comments" box, type in comments or instructions to the students
  8. Click "Submit"
To send the file to other users within a course or organization:
  1. Perform steps listed above to upload the file
  2. Click "Send File"
  3. Select the users you wish to send the file to under the "Select Users" category
  4. Under "File Information" category, you can either select the file from the dropdown box or upload a new file (follow the steps above)
  5. Click "Submit"
  6. The file will be available from the "sent to" user's digital dropbox

    NOTE: The file will not be sent to the student's email account. Student can only access the file through the dropbox tool within the portal.

Discussion Forum: Instructions
Discussion forum is a communication tool that can be used to enhance a course/organization. While some similarities to chat exist, the discussion forum is designed for asynchronous use. Users are not present at the same time to converse on-line. As an example, email is also asynchronous.

An additional advantage of the discussion board is that conversations are logged and organized. Conversations are grouped into threads that contain a main posting and all related topics.

USER INSTRUCTIONS ON USING THE DISCUSSION FORUM (Students cannot create forums but can add threads and respond to existing messages):

  1. Log on to your course or organization
  2. Click "Discussion Board" on the left navigation bar (the discussion board tool is also available under the "Communication" navigation button).
To Add a new topic or category:
  1. Click "Add Forum" and fill out the form.
  2. Click "Submit"
To add a new thread (a new discussion):
  1. Click the forum where the new discussion will reside and then click "Add New Thread"
  2. Fill out the form and then click "OK"
To respond to an existing message (thread):
  1. Click the message you wish to respond to
  2. Click the "Reply" button on the lower right-hand side of screen
  3. Fill out the form and click "Submit"

Email: Send email to students within a course
To send email within a course to students:
  1. Log on to the course
  2. Click "Control Panel"
  3. Click "Send Email"
  4. Choose an option (For instance "All Users")
  5. Add a subject and message body for the message
  6. To add an attachment, click "Add" under the Add Attachments section, click in the box next to Browse, click "Browse" and select the file
  7. Click "Submit"

NOTE: Email sent to students is delivered to their my.sinclair accounts. Student email sent through the portal will be delivered to faculty member's Outlook account.

Although faculty pickup sent mail within Outlook, there will be no saved "sent" message in Outlook when using the my.sinclair email feature.

Gradebook: Overview of On-Line Gradebook
The on-line gradebook is a repository for all student grades associated with assessments. The on-line gradebook also allow users to manually input scores for essay questions and work completed outside of Blackboard. There are four main functions available through the gradebook:
  • Report by User: find a specific user and view statistics, assessment results and modify/update scores for a user.
  • Report by Item:Find a specific gradebook item and view statistics, user scores, and modify/update scores for a user
  • Spreadsheet View: Allows grade information to be view in a standard spreadsheet
  • Export Gradebook:Export gradebook information in a comma-delimited file.

Gradebook: Setting up gradebook feature
To set up the gradebook feature in my.sinclair, follow the steps below:
  1. Log on to your course
  2. Click "Control Panel" and then "Online Gradebook"
  3. Click "Spreadsheet View"
  4. Click "Add Item"
  5. Fill out the form to set up the item (i.e. an assignment)
  6. Click "Submit"
Once an item (whether the creation of an assessment or a manually added assignment or other item) is added, the student list will be viewable.

Groups: create a group and add users to it.
The groups tool can be used to separate users into study or project teams. Instructors can add, remove, and modify groups of users within a course/organization from the Manage groups page. Each group can be given a separate discussion board, virtual classroom, email, and file exchange function. To create a group:
  • Log on to the course/organization
  • Click the "Control Panel"
  • Select the "Manage Groups" feature under the User Management catagory
  • At the Manage Groups page, select "Add Group"
  • Fill out the form, selecting the Group Options you want the team to access and click "Submit"
To add users to a group:
  • Go to the "Manage Groups" page by following steps 1 through 3 above
  • Select the "Modify" button to the right of the group you wish to add users
  • Select "Add Users to Group"
  • At the search box, type in the user's last name or user name if known and click "Search"
  • Scroll through the user list and click the check box next to the user you wish to add, and click "Submit" and then "ok" to add additional users.
NOTE: users must be added to the course or organization before they can be added to a group. Instructions on adding users to a course/organization are available at the portal support site.

Roster: Obtain a complete roster of participants including students that have dropped or been deregistered from course.
The complete class roster (including students that have dropped the course, been deregisted, or are auditing) is available to all instructors (including those teaching WebCT) from within the portal. To access this roster, follow the steps outlined below:
  1. Log on to the portal
  2. Go to either the Courses Tab or the front page Courses Module
  3. Select the "View Roster" link next to the course title.
  4. The complete roster will be displayed.
NOTE: Students that are auditing a class will have an "A" in the audit column. This column will be blank for students taking the course for credit. Students that have dropped or have been deregistered from a course will appear "grayed" out.

Student accounts: add participant to existing organization or course
Organization managers are responsible for the management of users within the organization, including adding, deleting and determining a participant's role in the organization. To add users:
  1. Log on to the portal and click the "Community Tab"
  2. Click the organization link
  3. Click the "Control Panel"
  4. Under the User Management category, select "Add Users"
  5. Click "Enroll Existing User"
  6. Search for the participant you wish to add by either last name or user name
  7. Click the check box next to the participant's name and click "Submit"
  8. At the confirmation screen, hit "OK"

Student accounts: modify the role of an existing participant within a course/organization
To change the role (i.e. shared instructor/manager access, teaching assistant, etc) of an existing user within a course or organization, follow the instructions below:
  1. Log on to the portal
  2. Go to the course (unders Courses Tab) or Organization (under Community Tab)
  3. Click the "Control Panel"
  4. Under the User Management category, select "List/Modify Users"
  5. Search for the participant you wish to modify by either last name or user name or select "List All" (you must click it twice) to see the entire course/organization participant list
  6. Click the "Properties Box" next to the participant's name
  7. Scroll to the bottom of the screen to the "Role and Availabilty" section and select the user role you wish to assign to the participant, then click "Submit"
  8. At the confirmation screen, click "OK"