I am so excited to share with you a Blackboard design project that I recently worked on for Charlotte Everitt, Senior Teaching fellow in Modern Languages. Charlotte was in the process of migrating the MA in ELT: Online programme from Moodle to Blackboard and so invited me to create a course ‘ident’, main course and module banners and video start screens for the new Blackboard course.
Charlotte had two interns working with her on this project, Pariksit and Ciara, and together they had already decided the overall look and feel for the site. The main objective was to make the course site a more welcoming and visually appealing environment for online students who are located in approximately 25 countries worldwide.
Because of the varied locations of the students, the team decided on a ‘Global’ theme for the course ‘ident’.
The Students’ Southampton Experience was also an important factor, so it was vital that navigation around the site to access important information and useful resources was self-explanatory. Simple iconic graphics and bright colours make the site more engaging and user friendly.
Using the module titles that Charlotte had provided me, I pulled together Shutterstock images and graphical components and made various module banners which I thought reflected the title for each module.
Not being an academic or a student, I am not a regular user of Blackboard so don’t have access to many courses. From the few courses that I have seen, I had always assumed that Blackboard was very restrictive when it came to design but was pleasantly surprised when I saw my designs ‘come alive’ on this new site.
Working on this project with Charlotte, Ciara and Pariksit was an inspiring and pleasurable experience because as well as using my graphic skills to create something that optimises a learning environment, it has also opened up my views on how Blackboard can be styled to a site that is welcoming, visually engaging and a pleasure to use.
One thing to bear in mind though, with the introduction of the Accessibility legislation, all graphics shown on the site will need an ‘alt text’, this can be added on Blackboard when you upload the media. The ‘alt text’ is read by screen reader for users with visual impairment, this is very important if your site is graphic heavy.
Here are a few words from Charlotte about the new site:
“The new graphics have given the course exactly the look and feel that we were hoping to achieve, using a simple and accessible colour palette and eye-catching images to create an attractive and distinctive image for the course … We have just relaunched the course, and feedback so far on the new look of the course from students, online tutors and colleagues has been extremely positive!”
Read Ciara’s summary of the experience at: An Internship with the MA in ELT Online.