Blackboard like most modern VLE’s provides lecturers with a lot of tools within a course such as Announcements, emails, blogs, wikis, youtube, online tests, online essay submission, discussions boards, rss feeds… Oh and of course it allows you to put up files.
Files may be boring but the most common use of a Blackboard course is to put up materials for your students to read/use.
In the past this was a time consuming process with lecturers creating an item browsing for a single file and attaching it, then browsing for a second file and attaching it and so on. When updating files it was even more long winded, you opened the file from your course, edited it and saved it to your computer. Then you deleted the original file and item from the course, before making a new item and then browsing and attaching your updated file.
The content system
Now however Blackboard provides a content system, which gives academics an area where they can drag and drop files and folders onto the web ready to be used in their course. Then it’s simply a case of making an item and linking it to as many files (or folders of files) as you want in a couple of clicks. I personally like linking to a folder because if I have an extra file I want to add all I do is drop it in the folder and the students see it without me having to worry about linking.
Also you can make your course a lot more collaborative by giving students the right to add and modify files.
The content area works even better if you install a small program (Bbdrive) onto your computer which runs in the background. This should be rolling out across my University in the next month or so.
What happens is that if you click on a file, it opens and you can edit it then save and it saves it back to the webpage, without having to mess about with uploading it again.
Here is a quick video showing it in action
Effectively it makes each of your Blackboard courses into a Dropbox (http://www.dropbox.com/) or slightly slow computer drive