BlackBoard is a crapware: it is feature stuffed- tons of features, most of them unneeded and none properly implemented. I use it for mark management only (because it is official and every student enrolled in the class has an access). And even in this area BB is not user friendly (one could make far better using php and mySQL).
However one should use available features, and I provide several hints to mitigate an inevitable suffering any homo sapience experiences working with BB, which was developed by evil non-humanoid methane-breathing aliens :D
To merge several sections you must be listed as an Instructor or a Course Builder in each of them (instructor of the corresponding section can list you as a Course Builder).
In you main window (not going to a specific course) select Add Module (currently in the top-left corner), find Instructor Course Grafter and click "Add". Returning to main window you find this module and listing of all available courses (sections). The rest obvious.
- Unfortunately, there is a persistent bug: after grafting several sections/courses together instructors of each should become instructors of the merged "super section" automatically (as claimed), but this does not happen.
Finally, they fixed this at Spring 2013Victor 09:17, 27 March 2013 (EDT)
Be careful here (but one can change column info later: select Edit Column Information):
- Primary Display Score (otherwise certain operations are disabled)
- Select appropriate Category: then this column will be repeated in the corresponding view; while Full Grade Center is still overcrowded, selected view will be less crowded, and one can download such view to a spreadsheet file (less columns-easier to work with)
- You don't really need to match mark type; however for home assignments you'd better use Assignment and for tests - Test, but there are also Blog, Journal,... which could be used for something less esoteric. However you can create your own smart view and list it as Favorite.
- Always indicate the possible number of points.
- Be careful with Options - eventually I prefer to get students an opportunity to see everything available but not before all marks for a given test are entered.
Adding someone to the course
In the course view
Select Course Tools > UT Manage Users
Insert UTORID and select course role of this person. You need to know UTORID and while often it is easy to guess sometimes it is not the case. Don't add students: they are added automatically via ROSI (and dropped too) during every-night update.
Assignments and Tests
Usually Full Grade Center is overcrowded and difficult to deal with. If it is too overcrowded, the last several columns are not shown at all. There is no cure for overcrowded FGC, but one can use Smart Views. By default there are two Favorite Smart Views -- Assignments and Tests. Listing Column as Assignment or Test you will force it to appear in the corresponding view as well.
Creating Smart View
From Grade Center select Create Smart View - and select columns to be displayed. Check box Add as Favourite to be listed in menu (where by default are only "Assignments" and "Tests".
PS The stupid thing does not have a discontinuous column selection (and why one needs to highlight columns rather to have a checkbox near each column knows nobody, including developers) -- so you need to use Column organization to move column into necessary position. The good news is that after view is created, you can move column whatever you want (it will not affect this view)