Web Wednesday: Introducing the Blackboard ePortfolio and Content System

Web Wednesday: Introducing the Blackboard ePortfolio and Content System

From Information Resources and Technologies

As we announced in the Jan. 31 Bulletin, a new addition to the Blackboard suite of tools will be available for summer 2007: the Blackboard ePortfolio and Content System.

The addition of the Blackboard Content System will enable St. Thomas Blackboard users to more efficiently store, manage and share content from within a central Blackboard content repository.

The ePortfolio tool can be used to facilitate a range of activities from student assessment to professional development and achievement.

The Content System and ePortfolio tool will be available from a new Content Collection tab within Blackboard. All users with UST Blackboard accounts will have access to the Content Collection tab in June.

Blackboard Content System

Store your files centrally and reuse files in multiple Blackboard sites.

Currently, when you make a change to a file in your course, you have to remove the file from Blackboard and upload the new version of the file. In addition, if you teach several sections of a course, you have to upload the file to each course section.

With the Blackboard Content System you no longer need to upload the same file to different course sections -- you simply upload a file to the Content System and then link to that file from within your course.

If you need to make changes to the file, edit the file in the Content System and changes are automatically updated in the course without needing to go into each course to make changes! With versioning, you can choose to link to a specific version of a document or to always point to the newest version of the document.

Maintain files with time-saving features like drag and drop file management, direct editing of content and versioning.

Instead of uploading files one by one, with the Content System, you can create a folder structure on your hard drive, add files to the folder and then drag that folder along with all of the files directly into the Content System. Through WebDAV capabilities, files can be edited and saved without needing to download the file from Blackboard.

In addition, versioning can be enabled on files stored in the Content System to keep track of every saved version of a file to make it easy to roll back to a previous draft. The versioning feature in the Content System creates separate copies of a document after each contributor changes the document, thus providing an automatic history and backup for files.

Sharing and Collaboration

Among the most valuable features of the Content System are those that allow users to share and collaborate on documents in group settings. Group collaboration often requires access to a shared set of documents. Frequently documents need to be kept private but also easily accessible to individuals who do not have access to UST resources. As is often the case, group members resort to e-mailing files to colleagues which can result in multiple versions of a document which later need to be merged into a single document.

Tools available in the Content System such as permission settings, passes, and workflow assignments can be particularly useful for groups working on documents and projects that need to be shared both internally to St. Thomas, as well as externally. And with appropriate permissions, collaborators can be given the appropriate access to read and modify the document, and to add comments to the document.

Blackboard ePortfolio Tool

The Blackboard ePortfolio tool can be used for creating assessment and learning portfolios, as well as for developing presentation and personal portfolios. As mentioned in the Feb. 7 Bulletin, faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education are assisting IRT in pilot testing the Blackboard ePortfolio tool during spring semester.

In June 2007, every Blackboard user at St. Thomas will have access to the Blackboard ePortfolio tool via the new Content Collection tab.

Portfolio Creation

A portfolio can include any type of digital work (artifact) such as a course report, paper or presentation, video and audio, images, and links to Web sites.

  • The ePortfolio tool allows you to include existing Content Collection items and folders, external links and template based items into the portfolio.
  • Create and upload artifacts to the Content System and link to artifacts from within any of your portfolios.
  • Page and whole portfolio templates are available for consistent layout, design and style.


  • Share portfolios with specific users who have a UST Blackboard account and with students and instructors in course and organization sites.
  • E-mail a pass to share a portfolio with people who do not have a Blackboard account.
  • Download a portfolio as an HTML package and view the portfolio outside of Blackboard, or upload to the Web.


  • Gather feedback and comments on portfolios. The portfolio comments page includes the date the comment was posted, the person who posted the comment, and the comment itself.

The new Blackboard Content System and ePortfolio tool will be available for faculty, staff and students to begin using in summer 2007. To learn more, visit the Teaching and Learning with Technology site, and check the Bulletin for upcoming announcements for April workshops and training sessions.

As always, if you have questions about these new tools, contact your Academic Technology Consultant/Administrative CORE Consultant or the IRT Tech Desk, (651) 962-6230.