What’s in a name?

January 29, 2010

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Juliet: Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

What’s in a name?  Well, when it comes to figuring out how to use Blackboard, quite a bit.  Without the proper vocabulary in mind, using written documentation (even the custom write-ups put out by Academic Technology, let along the default Blackboard User’s Manual) is nearly impossible.  Without the exact names of the tools and functions in Blackboard, communicating with the support techs can be highly frustrating bouts of talking in circles instead of getting problems solved.

As a specific example, if you didn’t know that the column of links or buttons down the left side of your course site was called the Course Menu, it’s quite unlikely that you would be able to quickly figure out that the Manage Course Menu controls are the place to go to manipulate that sidebar.  Similarly, if you didn’t already know that the student My Grades list is considered a Course Tool, you could take quite a while to figure out that you need to add a Tool Link to the Course Menu, of the My Grades type, to allow the sidebar to contain a link directly to the list of a student’s grades.

If you’re the self-starter type of instructor, and want to just jump right into trying something new in your Blackboard course, keep this in mind.  My suggestion: spend a few minutes talking over what you want to accomplish with a support tech, and they can likely point you to the right proper names and keywords (as well as the occasional but inevitable “gotchas”) that will make your journey into the unknown wilds of Blackboard much smoother.