How to Make Printable Versions of Your Weekly Sessions in Blackboard

It is possible to make printable versions of your weekly sessions or modules for your students in Blackboard whether or not your materials are organized in folders or in learning modules.

chromeTo begin, you’ll need to log into your course using the Chrome browser. If you don’t already have Chrome installed on your computer you can download it here. Please note that Firefox is still the browser we recommend that you use for Blackboard activities but the Chrome browser appears to be the only program that allows us to create printable copies of Blackboard screens.

1. Once you’ve logged into your course via the Chrome browser make sure the Edit button is toggled to the “On” position.

2. On your sidebar locate the menu item where your course materials are housed. For example, you may have an item titled “Course Modules or Course Sessions.” Right click on this link. A menu will open. Select the “Open in New Tab” option.


3. At the top of your browser you’ll now see 2 separate tabs. Click on the item that is labeled with the same title as the menu item that houses your course materials. In this instance we’ll click on the tab called “Course Sessions.”

4. On the screen you’ll now see a list of the sessions or modules that appear in your course. Right click on the week you would like to make a printable for and once again click on the “Open in New Tab” option from the menu that appears.

5.  At the top of your browser you’ll now see 3 separate tabs. Click on the item that is labeled with the same title as the session or module that you’d like to create a printable version. In this instance we’ll click on the tab called “Week One: Getting Your….”

6. You’ll now see all of the content items for the week you selected in your browser window. At this point we recommend that you minimize any sidebar menus (located on the left hand side of the page) that appear in your course.

If you’re using Learning Modules with a Table of Contents you can minimize the table by clicking on the icon indicated below:

To minimize your main course menu (or sidebar) click on the arrow icon.


7. Now, at the top of your screen, locate the menu item called “File.” Click on this item. A menu will open. Select the “Print” option from the menu.


8. In the print menu window click on the “Change” button located in the Destination area.

9. In the new window that appears, locate the Local Destination section and click on the “Save as PDF” option.


10. A new menu will appear. A preview of your course session will be located on the right hand side of the page. Click on the Save button found on the upper left hand side of the window.


11. The Save As window will open. Here you can rename the file and select the location on your computer that you would like to house the document you’ve created. When you’ve made your edits and/or selections click the “Save” button.

 12. Now you can upload this printable version of your content to the class or email it directly to students. Please contact if you need additional assistance. You can also print these instructions.

The Journey to Expert Performance: Authentic eLearning Assignments

How can we best support learners in their ability to apply knowledge and skills to complex situations? Moving away from abstract, decontextualized learning that leads to inert knowledge is difficult to transfer to problem-solving situations. A key element that can move learners to a higher level of expertise is a cognitively authentic task. Collaboratively working on complex, authentic tasks can be a key to students’ successful transfer of knowledge and skills to real world contexts.

Cognitive Apprenticeship

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Collins, Brown and Newman (1989) suggested an extension of the traditional apprenticeship model of learning through what they termed the “Cognitive Apprenticeship”. They claimed that traditional apprenticeships have three elements cognitively important for a model of learning:

  1. Leaners have access to models of expertise-in-use against which to refine their understanding of complex skills.
  2. Apprentices often have several masters and have access to a variety of models of expertise leading to an understanding that there may be different ways to carry out a task, and that no one individual embodies all knowledge and expertise.
  3. Learners have the opportunity to observe other learners with varying degrees of skill (p.456)

Authentic e-Learning

authentic task visual

More recently, Herrington, Reeves, and Oliver (2010) have developed a framework based on the idea of cognitive apprenticeship. The elements of the framework can be used as a set of criteria for designing learning experiences:

  1. Provide authentic contexts that reflect the way the knowledge will be used in real life
  2. Provide authentic tasks
  3. Provide access to expert performances and the modeling of processes
  4. Provide multiple roles and perspectives
  5. Support collaborative construction of knowledge
  6. Promote reflection to enable abstractions to be formed
  7. Promote articulation to enable tacit knowledge to be made explicit
  8. Provide coaching and scaffolding by the teacher at critical times
  9. Provide for authentic assessment of learning within the tasks

Authentic learning is very well suited to online learning, but while students may be familiar with technologies of participatory culture, they need guidance in working on collaborative online teams and coaching at critical times during problem-solving.

If you are interested in creating an authentic online or blended task for your online, hybrid or face-to-face teaching, please feel free to contact Our design staff has expertise in the creation of collaborative online learning and have presented at national conferences on the topic.

The Online Learning Community as Digital Village Green: Interview with Joan Thormann Part IV.

This post is the fourth in an interview series with author and Lesley University Professor Joan Thormann regarding the design and facilitation of online learning environments.   Joan Thomann will be presenting at an upcoming eLIS Brown Bag event, The Online Learning Community as Digital Village Green.  This event will take place on Friday, November 15th from 12pm to 2pm at Lesley’s University Hall at 1815 Mass Ave in Cambridge on the third floor, within the Creativity Commons.

By Nancy Jones (Own work by uploader - application screenshot) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Are you able to develop a relationship with students?  Do you think this is important to their commitment to learning?

Joan Thormann: Building relationships with students is one of the more time consuming things that I do.  I schedule one-to-one Skype meetings with each student.  These meetings were originally supposed to be about 15 – 20 minutes.  As it turns out, the meetings usually last anywhere between 30 to 90 minutes.  I tell my students up-front that the purpose of these meetings is for us to get to know each other.

The Skype meetings allow students to get to know, trust, and feel comfortable with me. My hope is that video conferencing helps to build community because I attempt to communicate that the online environment will be a safe place to discuss content openly. I want students to know that I won’t allow anything bad to happen as they interact with classmates.  There are other subtexts.  It helps them to know that I am interested in their learning, how they learn, and what they are interested in learning.  I am conducting research on this type of video conferencing as part of my research about the effectiveness of incorporating UDL in online courses.

To continue the relationship building, we also have small group Skype meetings so students can get to know each other.   I try not to have more than four in a group.  The week that students participate in a group Skype meeting, they do not have to post on the weekly discussion forum.

I encourage students to email and Skype me whenever they have questions or want to discuss something.  I also email each student individually at least once a week in addition to group emails and being “present” on the weekly Discussion Board forum.

My relationship with most of my online students is generally stronger than in face-to-face courses because I am able to respond to each student individually.  There are no students who sit slouched in the back of the classroom.  My online course structure does not allow this.  Also Lesley’s commitment to small class size allows me the time to build relationships with students.

You highlight in your book the importance of listening in online courses.  Could you expand on this?

Thormann: It is a combination of listening in these one-to-one and group Skype meetings, and listening to who they are through the language they use online.  Some students write a tremendous amount and others are very succinct.  I listen to what is said in these discussions and read what each student posts very carefully.  Basically, through reading or viewing their posts, and conversations, I can quickly, as any good teacher can, get a sense of how they learn, who they are, and what their interests are.  Many times they keep coming back to the same topic which helps me understand what their concerns are.

This semester I am teaching a course about teaching online (ECOMP 6201 Online Teaching: Introduction to Design and Practice), and one of my interview questions for the one-to-one Skype meeting was “Why are you taking this course?”  Almost all of the students said, “to get my certification.”  One student shared with me that she was scared about teaching online, and now at the end of the course she wrote me that she feels she can teach online.   I have seen many teachers move from being resistant to online learning to a point where they are much more comfortable.  In my communications with students, they become aware that I am “listening” and open up and talk about the issues in greater depth.   Moreover, they learn to listen to each other in this online environment.

Online learning can provide the opportunity for all learners to become engaged.  In fact one of my students wrote about herself as being shy and not speaking out much in face-to-face classes.  She is the most verbose student in this online course!   While other students respond to each other in three to five sentences, she will write a half page.  Online learning gives everyone a chance to be heard because participation is no longer tied to a scheduled class time (and place).

By Brian Solis [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

What do you think is the future of learning technologies?

Thormann:  I am particularly interested in the use of mobile devices for learning.  I don’t really know where this is going, but my sense is that mobile devices are now being increasingly used for online learning.  Mobile phones are being used more widely in developing countries and, of course, most people in the U.S. have a mobile phone.  More and more people here have smart phones and tablets.  Logistics still have to be worked out in terms of screen size and input capabilities. But one of the things I love in online learning is figuring out how the pedagogy works best for a particular environment.

We don’t know what technological features will develop but for the future of online learning, the same questions will remain.  How can students engage with the material in a non-face-to-face environment so they can grasp the material, play with it, and reflect on it?  These are the questions I love to explore.

The Online Learning Community as Digital Village Green: Interview with Joan Thormann Part III.

This post is the third in an interview series with author and Lesley University Professor Joan Thormann regarding the design and facilitation of online learning environments.   Joan Thomann will be presenting at an upcoming eLIS Brown Bag event, The Online Learning Community as Digital Village Green.  This event will take place on Friday, November 15th from 12pm to 2pm at Lesley’s University Hall at 1815 Mass Ave in Cambridge on the third floor, within the Creativity Commons.

By Tony Alter from Newport News, USA (Homework  Uploaded by theveravee) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Your book indicates that building community is critical in online learning environments. How do you accomplish this?  

Joan Thormann: I develop assignments that result in idiosyncratic postings so students have the opportunity to learn from each other.  Students are required to post all assignments publicly in a designated weekly Blackboard Discussion Board forum.  This ensures that students’ assignments are not just for the teacher — they are for everyone in the class.  Sharing their work publicly helps to create authentic learning experiences.  It also improves the quality of the work.  Students do not want to be embarrassed in front of’ peers so they are less likely to submit poor work.  Knowing that classmates will read their assignments also helps to create a bond among students.

To deepen the connection among students, most assignments require students to post comments and questions to at least two classmates and respond to all comments and questions that are posted to them. Rubric-based points are earned separately for participation in each discussion. This requirement and grading system helps to insure that students read classmates’ assignments and get to know each other.

Another community building strategy is to assign what is called a ‘jigsaw’ once or twice during a course, where students focus on different aspects of one topic and then learn about the topic from each other. This type of assignment makes students dependent on one another to learn about the whole topic.

Using student moderation also makes students depend on each other since moderators can only be successful if classmates respond to each moderator’s effort to deepen understanding of the topic.  Students come to understand that it makes sense to participate since everyone will take on the role of moderator at some point and need full participation from peers to be a successful moderator.

Once a term students work with a partner or small group to complete an assignment.  I allow the students to select their own group members.  This encourages students to pay attention to others in the class.

By Charles Hamm (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to the student moderators, required participation and jigsaw activities, do you have other strategies you use to build community within your online courses?

Thormann:   I feel that the Coffee Shop forum, where students can chit chat, is another community building tool.  When I know that a student has a special event coming up or a special interest, I urge the student to post pictures or share what’s happening in the Coffee Shop.  For example, one student won an award, another posted photos of a cruise she had been on and another posted pictures of herself with celebrities.  This gives the class the opportunity to congratulate each other and also learn about classmates’ interests.

The Coffee Shop is not the only place that interests are shared.  The very first assignment is an Introduction, which includes having students describe themselves and their interests.  This assignment is often the most robust of the course. As with the student moderators, I make sure to model the interaction by responding to each student’s introduction.

I also set up a Teachers’ Room forum.  Students are encouraged to discuss ideas not necessarily directly related to the week’s work but that align with their professional interests.

There are a number of different outlets for students to build community and make learning among students strong.  The result is that all of the postings in the weekly assignment forums on the Discussion Board are substantive and on task – they are never irrelevant. This pleases me, and I hope it pleases my students too.

These strategies, community building and student moderation, seem to suggest a paradigm shift, where students are empowered as leaders and help to generate knowledge within the class.  How do your students respond to this shift away from the traditional hierarchy?

Thormann: Judging from my research and that of others, most students see this shift as positive.  They like receiving feedback from their peers.  They feel empowered.  They learn new ways of interacting with each other.  Part of the student moderator’s assignment is that they do not have to post the weekly assignment, but they have to be familiar – maybe even more familiar – with the content.  Moderators often say they have learned much more about the topic for the week by moderating.  They learn the material in greater depth and also learn from their classmates.

It was interesting that one student wrote that she was going to use student moderators in her face-to-face classroom with her fifth grade students. She and others really seem to embrace the paradigm shift.

In implementing this paradigm shift it is important that I, as the instructor, do not abandon the class while working to empower students.  As I said earlier, I post feedback publicly.   I also send students personal feedback.  This may sound like an overwhelming task, but I use templates that help make the feedback process easier for me. The details of using templates are discussed in my book, The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Designing and Teaching Online Courses.

Stay tuned next week for part IV of the series.