Blackboard Mobile-Responsive Theme FAQ

The May 2017 upgrade to Blackboard at NIU included the implementation of a mobile-responsive theme that is specifically designed to make Blackboard courses more mobile-friendly. It resizes based on screen size for use on smaller devices like smartphones, and the Submit button is always at the bottom of the screen instead of the bottom of the page (so there is less scrolling). The new design also includes new icons for most content and assessments, to match the new look.

new course theme in blackboard

This new mobile-friendly theme does require a few other changes that you will notice. First, the modules on the landing page in Blackboard have been reordered, so that My Courses is the first box on the left. This helps the various modules show up in a useful order on smartphones, where Blackboard can only display one column at a time. Also, the new theme does not let you customize colors for course menus, for consistency of the experience between Blackboard in the browser compared with using the Bb Student mobile app.

Questions and Answers

Can I change the color of my Blackboard course menu?

The new mobile-responsive theme does not allow you to customize colors for course menus, for consistency of the experience between Blackboard in the browser compared with using the Blackboard mobile app for students. Blackboard has conducted extensive user research with students about their experience using Blackboard, including surveys, interviews, focus groups, observations, and advanced UX methodologies. A major theme of this research is that students have a better experience with consistency across their courses over custom branding of courses, particularly the use of bright or jarring colors.

In addition, with Blackboard's commitment to accessibility, they want to ensure that students with visual impairments are not at a disadvantage due to the color choices made for the course menu. The option to select course menu colors also provided the opportunity for choosing colors with insufficient contrast to be accessible to all students, including those who have low vision or are color blind. The new, standardized color scheme offers a positive experience for all students. 

Are buttons no longer an option for my Blackboard course menu?

For a consistent student experience between Blackboard in the browser and the Bb Student mobile app, course menu items can no longer be changed from text links to buttons.

I don't like the new icons for course items, assignments, etc. in the content areas of my Blackboard course. What options are there to change them?

The mobile-responsive theme does use more contemporary icons which are visually different from the former system icons. The icons can be removed entirely if preferred by enabling text-only view for the content folder as well.

Can I still add a banner to my Blackboard course?

Yes! You can still add a banner to the entry page of your course as before.

I can't reorder my course menu or content with the drag-and-drop functionality. Is there another way for me to reorder my materials?

Both the Course Menu and Content Areas include simple button controls for reordering items, which can be used instead of the drag-and-drop method. While designed for assistive technologies, the "Keyboard Accessible Reordering" controls are useful for everyone. They can be found by clicking on the up and down arrow icon, either above the Course Menu, or on the right hand side of the bar containing the standard Content Area controls (such as the "Build Content" button) as seen in the screenshot below. From the panel that pops up, select the item you wish to move, then click on the small up or down arrow buttons to move the item to the desired place in the list. When done, click the Submit button.

showing the keyboard accessible reordering button in blackboard, labeled "keyboard accessible reordering"

Where can I provide my feedback about the new Blackboard mobile-responsive theme?

Blackboard welcomes feedback from all faculty, staff, and student users. Please leave your feedback in the Blackboard Suggestion Box for the Blackboard Product Management Team. Additionally, you can join the Blackboard Idea Exchange community to influence the design and direction of Blackboard.

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Last Updated: 6/21/2017