ETAP 655L: Perspectives on Teaching Composition in the Secondary School
Spring, 2008

Blackboard Learning Systems (BLS) Information and Guidelines










Throughout the semester we will be using the Blackboard Learning System (BLS) for several course activities:

  • to share and respond to drafts of summary/response papers;

  • to share work as part of your writing group

  • to distribute course-related materials

  • to communicate with your writing group and roundtable group members.

We will also use the BLS forums for online discussions that, ideally, will grow out of and extend our in-class discussions.

Each student in this course will be assigned to a Writing Group and a Roundtable Group (as described in the Guildeines for Writing and Roundtable Groups), and each writing group and roundtable group will have a separate forum on BLS. (Your specific group assignments will be distributed in class during the second week of the semester.)

You should log onto BLS at least once each week to review any messages that have been posted and to participate in ongoing online discussions. Once the summary/response papers begin to be posted to your roundtable group's forum on the BLS bulletin board, it will be essential that you log in to review and comment on those papers posted by your roundtable group.

Please note: Since we will use BLS exclusively for discussion and for sharing texts, you won't need to use any of the other capabilities of the program. This course web site will serve as the primary source of information about course assignments and policies; most of the information contained on this website will not appear on the course BLS forums; however, periodically important course announcements will be posted to BLS.

Your participation in online discussions on BLS will figure into your participation grade for the course. Please see "Grading and Other Course Policies" for details.

Instructions for Accessing BLS

[Note: Instructions and information about BLS are available at Also note that you will need a UAlbany Net ID and password to access BLS. (Your Net ID is the same ID that allows you to access MyUAlbany.)]

To access our course discussion list on BLS, go to (You can also access BLS by going to the BLS page on the University's Information Technology Services website at Then follow these steps:

  1. Click the button labeled "Log In."

  2. Enter your Net ID and Unix password and click "OK." You will be taken to your "My Blackboard" page. This is a homepage that will allow you to access all of your BLS courses. You should see ETAP 655L listed on this page.

  3. Click the listing for ETAP 655L. You will be taken to the main ETAP 655L BLS page.

  4. On the ETAP 655L BLS page, you will see a navigation bar on the left side of the screen. The navigation bar includes buttons for "Course Content," "Announcements," "Chat," "Discussions," and "Web Links." To access the BLS forums, click the button labeled "Discussions."

  5. The screen will now change, and you will see a listing of the various BLS forums for our course, including a main forum and forums for each roundtable group and each writing group. You can access any of the discussion forums by simply clicking on the title of the forum.

  6. Once you click a link to any of the discussion forums, you will see an index of messages that have been posted to that forum. You can read a message by clicking that message or by clicking the heading for the thread in which that message appears.

  7. To post a message to a forum, click the button labeled "Create Message." A new window will open up, and you can type your message in the main box. (Note that you are required to include a subject for your message.) Once you have finished typing your message, you can preview it or post it to the forum by clicking the appropriate button below the main message box. Once you click "Post" (or "Cancel"), the window will close and you will return to the forum index.

  8. If you wish to respond to a message already on the list rather than post a message on an entirely new topic, click the "Reply" button that appears below the message you wish to respond to. Once you've clicked "Reply," a new screen will appear, and you can type your message onto that screen.

  9. When you're finished typing your message, you can look it over by clicking on the "Preview" button. When you're satisfied with your message, click on the "Post" button. You will then return to the discussion list screen.

    Note that you can write your message offline using a word processing program (such as Microsoft Word) and then paste it into the box in BLS when you're ready to post it.

    Note also that there is an online help function at the top of the screen.

  10. To return to the main discussion page, simply click the "Discussions" button on the navigation bar on the left side of the screen. You can also return to the main page or any of the other accessible course BLS pages by clicking the appropriate button on the navigation bar.

  11. To exit BLS, click "Course Content" on the navigation bar, then click "logout" at the very top of your screen.