Controlling the size of your Blackboard Course

Is your Blackboard Course a big one?  Is there a way to deliver rich course content to your students more efficiently?  Here are some strategies for controlling the size of your course(s) in Blackboard.

Combine Enrollments

Duplicate Content

Make Narrated Powerpoint Slides into a .wmv Moviedu

Copy your .wmv Movie to YouTube

Make your Powerpoint Slides into PDFs

Move .mp4 files to YouTube

Move .mp3 files to YouTube

Move .wma audio files to Youtube (if they are longer than 15 minutes, read the documentation here first)

Remove Master Courses

Combine Enrollments

If you are teaching more than one section of a course, you may be able to add the enrollments from one of your courses to your other course and only keep one copy of the content you are delivering.  Instructions on how to combine courses are here:

Check for Duplicate/Unneeded Content within your Course:

If you have copied content from one or more courses to another, there is a good possibility that there is duplicate content in your course.  To find duplicate content:

  1. Click on Control Panel, Files and then the Course Name.  You will get a list of all the content files in the course. See if there are any duplicates, or folders with Imported Content that might have duplicate content.
  2. If you think something might be a duplicate (or no longer needed in the course) click on the down chevrons next to the file name and choose 360 view.  This will pop up a new tab with the 360 View.
  3. Check the section called Links.  If it says No Links Available then you know there is nothing in a Content area pointing to that file and you can remove.
  4. Remove the unneeded item by going back to that list of course files and clicking on the down chevrons and choosing Delete.

Making narrated .ppt files and moving them to YouTube as a movie.

To make a narrated .ppt file:

  1. In Powerpoint, open your presentation.  Plug in a microphone, or use the installed one in your laptop.  Click on Slideshow and then Record Slideshow.
  2. To turn your mouse into a laser pointer which will be visible during your .ppt slideshow:  Press Ctrl and then Left Click on your mouse.  To turn your laser pointer back into a mouse, let go of the Ctrl key.
  3. Narrate each slide.  Stop talking for a second when you advance the slide, so there is a break in between the info on slide one and the info on slide two.  This will make a smoother slideshow.
  4. Don’t make your slideshows longer than about 15 or 20 minutes.  Think of your audience.
  5. When you are finished click on the last slide.  Save the slideshow in a safe place, where you can find it later, to save the narration.
  6. To save it as a video, click on Save As and then from the dropdown next to Save as Type,  choose .MPEG 4  and save it in a place where you can find it again.  This will take a while, you can watch the progress bar on the lower right of your screen

After the .mp4 file is saved, you can move it to youtube by following the instructions below:

Moving .mp4 or .wmv files to YouTube: 

  1. Sign into YouTube with your Mary Baldwin Gmail address and password.  Click “Upload.”  Below where it says “select files from your computer,” you will see a notation that says “Upload HD videos in various formats up to 15 minutes. Increase your limit.” Click “increase your limit” and follow the instructions that ensue.  Unless you do this, you will not be able to upload videos longer than 15 minutes.  You only have to do this once.
  2. Click “select files from your computer.”  Locate and select your saved file and follow the prompts to upload it.  Depending on your file size, this may take some time.
  3. While it is uploading, you will have the ability to change the settings.  Change from “public” to “unlisted.”  This means that only people who have the specific link can view it.  You can enter a title and description for your video clip.  Make note of the specific URL for your video.  This is the link you will post in your Blackboard course.
  4. If you need more privacy than the link just being unlisted, you can make it Private.  To do this, in Video Manager (click on the Down arrow next to the Upload button), click on Edit and put the gmail addresses for your students in the Share box.  Then your students will need to be logged on to YouTube with their Mary Baldwin gmail credentials in order to view the video.  If you are sharing more than one video, you can Copy these gmail addresses and Paste them in to the share box when Editing the next video.
  5. When you put the YouTube link URL into your Blackboard course, make sure you click on the “open in a new tab” option.  Also you might want to tell your students that if they have difficulty viewing the slides, they can click on the little gear icon below the video pane and choose a higher definition – for powerpoint slides, 480 is usually plenty high enough.

Moving .mp3 files to YouTube:

To create a movie out of your audio file:

  1. Do a Free Download of Windows Live Movie Maker  Do the Custom Install and go carefully so you can unclick everything else that they try to get you to install along with it.
  2. Start a New Project
  3. Click on Add Videos and Photos and add any ,jpg or .png to be the static picture in the background. You can create a slide in Powerpoint and save it as a ,jpg – use Current Slide Only.
  4. Click on Add music and choose your .mp3 file.
  5. Click on Project, Fit to Music
  6. Click on the Windows Movie Maker Icon at the top left and choose Save As and save it in case you need to change anything later.
  7. Click on Save Movie (from the WMM icon on the top right) and choose Computer to make a .wmv file
  8. Log on to YouTube and upload the .wmv file as per the directions above.

Use PDFs:

Save .ppt .pps and .pptx files as .pdfs if they don’t have audio.  See if that makes them smaller.

Removing Master Courses

Are you really using your Master Course?  Or could you just as easily use a copy of your course the last time you taught it to build your new one?

We make a copy of all courses at the end of each semester, so we will be able to retrieve the course the last time it was taught and Import it into your current course, but if you would prefer to do this yourself in the future, and not have to wait for us, please Export your current course and keep a copy of it locally.  Please try this – it’s very easy, directions are here:

Please let me know when I can remove your Master Courses.