Presenting content using the text editor, rather than requiring files to be downloaded, makes it quicker for students to access content. There are also significant benefits by linking to files and web resources within the text editor when providing context and instruction to frame such resources within a specific learning activity. The learning activity does not have to be an interactive one, but could simply be reading a journal article or preparing for a lab. Using the text editor to set out an intended learning objective and relate it to the linked resources, students will understand the relevance of the links and connect them to the module as a whole.
However, the text editor should not be used when presenting large quantities of text, for example a reading list. Such information should be contained within a downloadable document to ensure that the pages presented in Yorkshare are not overloaded with text. Presenting too much within content areas makes it difficult to identify required actions and learning instructions. Large blocks of text also introduce barriers to accessibility, for example students with Irlen Syndrome will find reading blocks of text on screen particularly difficult.
Examples of practice
- Emphasise selected key words using bold, not underline or italic.
- Use bullet points, where appropriate to avoid blocks of text and to present options.
- Use numbered bullet points for instructions.
- Use headings to break down longer items (using the Format drop down in the text editor tool bar).
The main limitations of the text editor relate to the formatting. This is another reason to keep the text within items short and specific for a learning activity.
Copying from Word or other websites is problematic as it often copies ‘styles’ which are difficult to edit within the Yorkshare text editor. For example margins, fonts and font sizes will be coded up and difficult to change resulting in a layout that doesn’t match the rest of Yorkshare.
Another limitation is to do with linking to other sections of a Yorkshare module site. The Course Links tool (Section 2.5) is the only way to link between sections of your site robustly and in a way that will ‘roll-over’ without links breaking each year.
Whilst the controls in the text editor itself are limiting, it is possible to create very appealing layouts with the text editor if you are familiar with HTML.
You may want to copy text from Word documents or PowerPoint slides you have used in face-to-face sessions when you upload content to Yorkshare. For example, you could copy the text from your introductory PowerPoint slide into the text box to accompany the slides when you upload them, to add context to additional resources and introduce the session.
If you are creating a resource with a lot of formatting, it is best to provide this as a separate document (a PDF, Word doc or other as appropriate). Otherwise, copy into Notepad before copying into the Yorkshare text editor as this will remove all formatting and enable you to present the text clearly within the module site. The videos below show how this can be done quickly and easily.
Use the Bold and Format options within the text editor toolbar. You can also indent, use bullet points, subscript, superscript and mathematical symbols. Avoid using the font and font size selectors as this will make the content look different in style compared to the rest of Yorkshare.
For headings, always use the Format menu, rather than simply bolding text. Heading styles are detected as headings by assistive technologies whereas bold styling is not.
You may also encounter <div> tags instead of <p> (paragraph) tags (see the tag indicator at the bottom left of the text editor). Text will appear without a space between paragraphs when saved. This is easily resolved by selecting each paragraph and choosing ‘Paragraph’ from the Format drop down in the text editor toolbar.
- Working with Text in Blackboard [help.blackboard.com]
- Video: Formatting Text [help.blackboard.com]
- Blackboard Content Editor Basics [help.blackboard.com]
- Content Items – Advanced – Inserting files within text [YouTube]