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The Content Collection


The Blackboard Content Collection is a tool that allows academics and students to store, manage and share content. The Blackboard Content Collection:

  • Is fully integrated with the Blackboard Learning System.
  • Makes reusing files much easier - academics can save a file in the Content Collection once and link to that file in any learning program.
  • Allows easy file management - when a file that resides in the Content Collection needs updating, academics can update it only once and there won't be any need to go into each learning program to upload an updated version of the file.
  • Makes it easy for academics and students to share their files with the users both within Ulster University and outside.
  • Provides an easy drag-and-drop interface - through the Web Folder feature - that makes copying and managing large number of files much easier.
  • Functions as a virtual hard drive that is available from anywhere by logging in to Blackboard.

Table of contents

Academics should remove any package files from the Content Collection after use as they take up a significant amount of storage space.

Navigating to the Content Collection

After logging into Blackboard Learn, select the Content Collection tab at the top of the Blackboard Learn application window.

The Content Collection is also available from the Control Panel in any learning program.

From the Content Collection in the Control Panel you have access to content in (Please refer to labels in the above image):

  1. The current learning program.
  2. Your personal area.
  3. Learning programs of which you are a member.
  4. Other organisations of which you are a member (Currently unavailable in the University of Ulster Blackboard Learn install).
  5. Institution content folders i.e. University of Ulster (Currently unavailable in the University of Ulster Blackboard Learn install).

Content Collection Overview

The following is an overview of the Content Collection’s layout and functionality.

Content Collection Menus

The Content Collection's menus are located in the left hand sidebar and includes the Content Collection, Jump To, and Search Contents menus.

The Content Frame

The content frame occupies most of the screen and displays the current view. The size of the content frame can be increased or decreased by clicking and dragging the border that separates the two panels. The content frame includes the Breadcrumb Trail, Action Bar, and Content Frame. The main content frame displays the area of the content collection you are working in, for example: viewing Content Collection folders or items. When displaying the contents of the folder, users can sort the folders and items by clicking the column titles.

Content Areas

The Content Collection organizes files and folders into separate areas for users, Courses, and the Institution itself. Each area is accessed through the Content Collection menu. Selecting an area displays the hierarchy of folders and files available to the user in that area. There are three default content areas: My Content, Course Content, and Institution Content.

Personal Settings

The Tools > Personal Settings page allows you to select an entry point into the Content Collection that best meets your needs. If you access the same Course in the Content Collection every time you open the tab, set the Home Page to point to that Course folder in the Content Collection for quick access.

Go to Location

The Tools > Go to Location page allows users to go directly to a specific folder in the Content Collection. This timesaver allows you to enter the path to open a folder and Bookmark the location at the same time.

Content Collection Menu

The Content Collection menu can be viewed two different ways. These views are represented by icons at the top of the panel – highlighted in red in the image below. The shortcut view appears initially by default.

The shortcut view includes buttons to open each content area and bookmarks.

The folder view shows each content area with a nested folder structure with the ability to expand or close each folder to view the subfolders.

The system will save and return you to your view preferemce each time you enter the Content Collection. You may drag the right-side of the frame to adjust the size of Content Collection menu.

Jump To Menu

The Jump To menu provides access to Portfolios, Collaboration tools and other Content Collection tools. Each sub menu is collapsible so that you can hide/show only what you need to see. Clicking a Jump To menu item will open the tool in the content frame of your application.

Search Content Menu

The Search Content menu contains Content Collection search tools.

Type of Search


Basic Search

Within the Basic Search you can search terms within metadata and file or folder names.

Advanced Search

The Advanced Search contains more options to search on username, dates, file size and more specific metadata.

Portfolio Search

The Portfolio Search is used to search only portfolios created in Blackboard Learn. Your search will only return portfolios that have been set to available or have been shared with you.

Saved Searches

Saved Searches include any search that you have saved after it has been run. For example, you searched for a biology article that your instructor made available and you want to be able to find it again. Once you complete the search you can click Save Search in the Action Bar and name the search so that you can easily find the article again.

Breadcrumb Trail

The Breadcrumb trail appears at the top of the Content Frame. It is a hierarchical trail that shows where in the Content Collection the user is located and how they got there. Select each item in the trail to proceed to that folder. Breadcrumb drop-down buttons act as hierarchy folder separators. Click the Breadcrumb drop-down button to view a list of options for that folder.

Action Bar

The Action Bar appears below the Breadcrumb Trail. It includes buttons to perform actions specific to that page. Different options will be available based on your system settings or privileges.

Folders and Items explained

The following explains folders and items in relation to the Content Collection.


A folder stores both items and other folders. It is important to remember that all folders are contained within other folders up to the top-level (Institution) folder. Learning program content areas are folders stored under the top-level (Institution) folder.

Top-level (Institution) folder access is generally reserved for the Blackboard Administrator.


An item is any file stored in the Content Collection. Items are automatically available to the user that added the file but must be shared if other users are to view them. Permissions, comments, and metadata functions work the same for items as for folders.

Managing Items and Folders

The following options are available from the contextual menu next to any Item or Folder in the Content Collection:

Contextual Menu items explained

  • 360° View: The 360° View provides all the information stored about any piece of content in the Content Collection. The 360° View allows you to see all of the basic properties of the item, information on links that exist to the item, and any metadata associated with the item. 360° View is explained in more detail later on this page.
  • Comments: Comments store text from users. Comments are opinions or instructions regarding the contents of an item or folder.
  • Passes: Passes are created for an item to allow anyone - even those without a Blackboard Learn user account - controlled access to an item. When viewing content through a pass, the viewer cannot access other areas of the Content Collection. Passes can assign Read permission only or Read and Write permission to allow collaboration. Passes are a great way to share a file with someone who does not have access to a Content Collection or learning program by providing them direct access to the file via an external URL. Passes can be set to expire after a specific time period. The Pass tool will also allow you to e-mail a link and information about the item/folder to the person(s) it has been set-up for.
  • Permissions: Folders must be made available to a user, by the owner, before that user can view the contents of the folder. For example, the Instructor can make a folder for their Course available to Students. Users added to a folder are assigned permissions to control their actions within the folder. Permissions include: Read, Write, Remove, and Manage.

    Permissions are an easy way to share content while protecting it from unauthorized changes. Permissions enable users to read and perform actions on items and folders added to the Content Collection. Users must be granted permissions to access content directly from the Content Collection and also through links in Courses and Portfolios. The following permissions are available within the Content Collection:

    1. Read: Users have the ability to view items or folders.
    2. Write: Users have the ability to make changes to items and folders.
    3. Delete: Users have the ability to remove items from the folder or the folder itself.
    4. Manage: Users have ability to control the properties and settings of items and folders.

      Typically, you should ONLY set Read permission on an item. Great care must be taken with Write, Delete and Manage permissions as these can allow students and other academics to change an item, delete it or even block your access to an item by setting their own permissions. If in doubt please contact the Blackboard Helpdesk.

      Permissions are important in Blackboard Learn. If your students/staff experience problems with any of your content items i.e. images or CSS not working you should first check what permissions have been set in the Content Collection. For a detailed explanation please see The Content Collection.

  • Tracking: Tracking is used to view how other users interact with an item. Tracking displays every instance that the file was changed or read and shows the user that took the action. Tracking is useful for managing changes or for Instructors to verify that Students have read an item.
  • Versions: Versions are created to allow collaborative work without overwriting earlier drafts. Each draft is stored as a separate version that can be checked out and checked in to manage changes. Only the user that has a version checked out can make changes to the file.
  • Metadata: Metadata is added to a folder to make it easy to find when searching and to make it easy to identify the content in the folder by adding a description.

Add a Folder to the Content Collection

To create a folder in the Content Collection:

  1. After logging into Blackboard Learn, select the Content Collection tab at the top of the Blackboard Learn application window. Alternatively, the Content Collection is also available from the Control Panel.
  2. Navigate to the content area or folder that will contain the new folder.
  3. On the action bar, select the Create Folder button. If the Create Folder button does not appear, you do not have permission to add a folder in the current location.

  4. Type a name for the Folder in the Folder Name field that opens below the Action Bar. In the example below the Folder name is “Practicals”.

  5. Select Submit to complete the action or Create and Customize to set Options for the folder.
  6. If you selected Create and Customize, the Edit Folder page will open. Select any of the available Options to customize your Folder and click Submit.

Upload Items to the Content Collection

Files can be uploaded to any content area where you have permission to do so. The Upload button will appear in the Action Bar with the options to Upload Files or Upload Package. Packages are ZIP files that will be unpackaged into the folder you selected.

  1. After logging into Blackboard Learn, select the Content Collection tab at the top of the Blackboard Learn application window. Alternatively, the Content Collection is also available from the Control Panel.
  2. On the Action Bar, point to Upload and from the drop down menu select Upload Files. The file upload window will open.
  3. If you are uploading multiple files, use the Multiple Files and Folders option available from the top right of the page. Use the Single File option to upload one file at a time.
  4. You can Browse for files or – in Multiple Files mode - drag and drop several files from folders on your desktop to the upload queue.

  5. After adding files to the list, select Submit to upload the files.

If an upload fails, select Undo to remove all uploaded files and return to the parent folder. Uploading multiple files and folders requires the Java plugin, version 1.5 or later. If the plugin is not available, use the Single File option to add files one at a time.

Download an Item from the Content Collection

If you want to backup content or edit a content file you can download it from the Content Collection:

  1. Navigate to the folder in the Content Collection where the items are located.
  2. Highlight the checkboxes next to the file/folder you want to download.
  3. Select the Download Package button.

    A single .XML file is sometimes downloaded with the files and folders called metadata.xml. This .XML file contains the metadata for all of the items downloaded.

Using Content Collection items

You can add content collection items to any learning programs you have access to and make them available to academics and students:

Time Saver:
No matter how many learning programs you add an item to, when the item is updated in the Content Collection the changes will be reflected in all learning programs that link to this item.

  1. Login to Blackboard.
  2. Select the learning program you want to use content from.
  3. Turn Edit mode ON.
  4. Select a content area from the Course Menu.
  5. Point to the Build Content button.
  6. From the drop down menu select File. The Create File window will open.
  7. Select the Browse Content Collection button. The Select File or Folder window will open.
  8. Navigate to where you uploaded your item.
  9. Select the item by highlighting the radio button next to the file name.
  10. Select Submit to execute.

Remember, once you link to a file in the Content Collection, you can no longer rename that file. If you do, the link in the learning programs will be “broken” and users will not be able to access the item. If this happens, you need to recreate the link. This is one reason why it is good practice to set up a shareable resource folder in the Content Collection – to prevent accidental modification of shared files.

Creating Passes

Passes are a useful means of sharing an item or folder with a user who does not have access to the Content Collection. Passes are a safe way to collaborate on projects with others outside the University of Ulster because the access is specific and controlled.

  1. Login to Blackboard.
  2. Select the learning program you are going to be working in.
  3. Turn Edit mode ON.
  4. Select the content area from the Course Menu.
  5. Navigate to the folder that contains the item or folder you want to create a pass for.
  6. Select Passes from the contextual menu for the item. The Create Pass window will open.
  7. Click Create Pass in the Action Bar.
  8. Enter information in the following fields and select Submit.

    1. Set Pass Expiry Date. This is the length of time the Pass will exist for. This can be set to minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or even years. By default Passes are set with No Expiry Date.
    2. Select Permissions for this Pass. The Pass can be set to allow users to have Read, Read/Write or Read/Write/Delete access to the item. Care must be taken when setting Read/Write or Read/Write/Delete access as the item can be altered or deleted.

Sending a pass for a folder grants access to all sub-folders and files within the folder where the pass was created. Pass recipients with Read access have the ability to view sub-folders and files. Pass recipients with Read/Write access have the ability to add and edit folders and files. Consider carefully what you are granting a pass to and restrict pass access to only those files you wish to share.

Sending and Receiving Passes

Once a pass has been created it may be shared with outside users through the Email Pass page. The Email Pass page sends an Email message to outside users with the URL path for accessing the Content Collection item or folder.

A person who receives a pass must have:

  1. An email account.
  2. Access to the Internet.
  3. An application capable of opening the item, for example, Microsoft Word to open a Microsoft Word document.

To Email a Pass:

  1. Navigate to the folder that contains the item or folder.
  2. Select Passes from the contextual menu for the item.
  3. Select a pass by clicking the check box next to it.
  4. Click Email Pass on the Action Bar.

  5. Enter the required information on the Email Passes page.
  6. Select Submit.

If the user is granted Read and Write permissions to the item, the URL path is linked to a file information page. The user may access the file from this page, or they may access additional information such as shared comments and versions.

If the user is granted Read only permissions to the item, there are two options for linking the URL path. The URL path may be linked directly to the file or be linked to the file information page.

If you Delete a Pass, links sent via the Email Pass option will no longer be available.

Blackboard Learn 360° view

To view where a file has been used in Blackboard, you can access the 360° View. The 360° View provides all the information stored about any piece of content in the Content Collection. The 360° View allows you to see all of the basic properties of the file, information on links that exist to the file, and any metadata associated with the file.

Use the 360° View if you need to know who last edited a file, what the permanent URL is, and recent comments or file activity. This view is helpful if you want to look at all the information for a file in one place.

The 360° View is accessed from the contextual menu next to an item in the Content Collection.

  1. After logging into Blackboard Learn, select the Content Collection tab at the top of the Blackboard Learn application window. Alternatively, the Content Collection is also available from the Control Panel.
  2. Navigate to the content item in the Content Collection.
  3. Select 360° View from the contextual menu beside on any item in the Content Collection.

  4. The 360° Viewwindow will open, which contains categorized information on the item:
    1. About this File
      1. Properties.
      3. Versions.
      4. Learning Objects Catalogue Entries.
    2. File Activity
      1. Permissions.
      2. Passes.
      3. Links (where you have shared items).
      4. Tracking Data.
    3. Metadata
      1. Tracking.