Dr Christopher Jobling

Senior Lecturer



In this second of my occasional series of Blackboard productivity tips I want to give another tip that is related to Tip #1: Exploit External Links. This simple tip provides an easy way to get your module details into a Blackboard module site using a link to the catalogue entry. This particular tip is also available in screencast format at Screencast.com.

The Problem

Every new Blackboard course site comes with standard sections one of which is Course Information (I normally rename this to module information using the control panel, but that’s a story for another time). Presumably, the course information section is intended for you to provide details such as syllabus, examination information, etc. But of course much of this information is already available on the Intranet in the module catalogue. So you’ll save some time if you reuse the already published data rather than re-entering it!

The Solution

I recorded a screencast of the procedure using Jing, but unfortunately it has no audio so here’s a transcript of the steps that the video shows.

  1. Login to your Blackboard course side, and navigate to the Course Information page. Switch to edit mode.
  2. In another browser window (or tab if you’re using Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox) navigate to the module catalogue.
  3. Search for your module using the module code.
  4. When the search is complete, you should have a link to your modules’ catalogue page.
  5. Follow the link and copy the URL from the browser address bar.
  6. Go back to the Blackboard window and add a new External Link.
  7. Paste the URL (which will look like this: https://intranet.swan.ac.uk/catalogue/default.asp?type=moddetail&dept=any&mod=EG-146&ayr=07/08&psl=TB2&detailOnly=) into the URL field and give it a name like Module Catalogue Entry and optionally a description. Submit.
  8. You’ll now have link that will load the catalogue description (including the reading list if one has been defined) into the Blackboard course page when it is followed.


The information in the module catalogue is data that you as module lecturer are probably responsible for keeping up to date. You may want the same information to appear in your Blackboard module site, but you don’t want to have to renter it. Linking to the Intranet using an external link is the simplest way to ensure that the information is consistent in both places. If you aren’t responsible for the module catalogue and you link it into your module page, you may find that linking to the official data encourages you to “take ownership” of your data and keep it up to date.

There is one slight issue with the way that the Intranet records a module page and that is that the seemingly redundant information is recorded in the URL. If you consider the tail end of the module URL you’ll see that it looks like this ...default.asp?type=moddetail&dept=any&mod=EG-146&ayr=07/08&psl=TB2&detailOnly=. I have done various experiments and discovered that all this information is apparently needed. It’s not too bad but one unfortunate feature is that the bit that says &ayr=07/08 will need to be updated when your module rolls around next year. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix: just edit the external URL and replace &ayr=07/08 with &ayr=08/09. I have informed the Academic Computing Unit (ACU) of this issue and they might one day simplify the URL so that ...default.asp?type=moddetail&mod=EG-146 works and then your module catalogue entry will have a permalink.

May 15th, 2008

Posted In: blackboard, blogging, e-learning, tips

Tags: , , ,

One Comment

  • s.g.owen says:

    An easier way around this would be to use &ayr=thisYear which the Intranet automatically substitutes with the appropriate academic year.

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