Textbook content is widely available for free or purchase on the web, and many of these resources integrate into Blackboard easily, particularly publisher resources. Adding integration has a few benefits, though different resources will have different integration features:
- Ease of access: links will help students find content more easily
- Modular presentation: many resources allow you to link specifically to certain parts of the resource so you can provide different links to different chapters or different activities, for example
- Gradebook integration: some resources can track student performance and send data to the Blackboard gradebook
Talk to your regional publishing representative to see what resources are available for textbooks in your discipline.
Open Educational Resources
Open Educational Resources (OERs) are free resources that are available for a wide range of disciplines. OERs can be used to plug into content that you have created alongside textbook content, or they may be used to replace the textbook entirely. They are online resources, though most allow students to print out the text if they wish. OER Commons aggregates OERs, and you can browse or search by discipline.
- Pros: free, usually easy to link to, most take advantage of multimedia information on the web
- Cons: can vary in quality (though some are peer reviewed), links may disappear, usually doesn’t allow for sophisticated integration (i.e. no gradebook integration or student tracking)
Most textbook publishers offer online components for use in online and hybrid courses. Beyond just offering an e-text version, publishers are increasingly creating multimedia interactive experiences that help present information but that also help students study and apply what they’re learning. Most publishers offer some form of gradebook integration so that once you connect your Blackboard course with the publisher content, grades will automatically sync from the publisher’s servers to your Blackboard gradebook.
- Pros: sophisticated interactions, many with adaptive learning capabilities, available in a wide assortment of disciplines, familiar textbooks and authors are moving online, peer reviewed content, gradebook integration
- Cons: costly, can be difficult to link to because content is behind a paywall, needs to be set up a certain way (see below for help)
Different publishers require different processes for linking your Blackboard course to purchased content (students pay; instructors don’t). Northeastern Blackboard currently has integration with the following publishers: Cengage (via MindLinks), Pearson’s Mastering and MyLab, McGraw Hill, and WileyPlus. While the process for integrating content varies with product and vendor, it generally follows this pattern:
- Talk to your textbook representative to get access to a specific textbook or create a custom verse of a textbook. It’s a good idea to schedule a demo so that you can see new features. Your rep will be able to give you an ISBN that will allow students to buy the textbook. Provide that ISBN to students in the syllabus and in your official book order.
- Log into the course in Blackboard, and from the left-side menu, click to expand the “Course Tools” menu.
- Find the specific textbook provider: Cengage Learning MindLinks, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, Pearson’s MyLab and Mastering, WileyPlus
- Search for the textbook that you decided upon with the representative and activate the link.
- Then you need to add specific links to your course by clicking on “Course Material” then from the top menu, choose “Tools”, then find the publisher you’re working with. At that point, you should be able to create the individual links to the content you want students to access. Students will have an easier time finding content if you a create separate link for each reading assignment or quiz items in the week of the course during which the student should complete that assignment.