Assignment submission links

In Blackboard, the title of an assignment submission is black and it looks like an ordinary heading. When you mouse over it, the underline appears and it looks like a link. But if you just look at it, it’s not obvious that it is a link! In response to feedback, I’ve now changed the colour of my assignments to dark blue. (See example).

Colour assignment title so It Looks More Like a Link
Colour assignment title so It Looks More Like a Link

I’ve also added a textual note below the link to make it extra clear and I’ve provide a web link to the Blackboard help page on Assignment Submissions for students.

The blue in my link is a bit too light when compared to the attachments on the item, so if anyone knows what the CSS colour code for a link should be, I’d be grateful if you could add it to the comments.

Supporting the Seven Principles with Blackboard Learn

I attended a Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series webinar on Monday which discussed how Blackboard Learn can be used to support Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education [1]. This was a very nice presentation from Ronald Scott Wennerdahl and Crystal Sheu of the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And there are some good ideas that I will need to think about in relation to my own teaching coming up next semester. The video has just been published on YouTube.


[1] Chickering, Arthur W. and Gamson, Zelda F, “Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education” American Association of Higher Education Bulletin vol.39 no.7 pp.3-7 1987. URL:

The Course Description

Having dealt with the reading list, my next consideration was the course description. This has been published in the course catalogue so I have to stick to the sense if not the letter of the published description.

Here’s what the catalogue entry currently says.

EG-247 Signals and Systems

Module Aims

To develop further methods of representing and analysing dynamic systems, to extend these concepts to sampled-data systems, to introduce concepts in signal processing and to use computer-aided methods for modelling and analysis.

Module Content

  • Review of signal representations and transform concepts.
  • Harmonic responses, parametric plots, logarithmic measures for linear systems.
  • Laplace domain representations and corresponding time responses.
  • Fundamentals of Fourier series, DFT from FT.
  • Fundamentals of Sampled data signals, digital systems, z-transforms, responses and FIR digital filters.
  • Implementations of IIR and FIR pulse transfer functions.


Lectures, Matlab practicals and examples classes.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After completing this module you should be able to: • Construct harmonic response diagrams in standard form

  • Construct pole-zero diagrams and derive associated responses
  • Determine system responses for given standard inputs
  • Discuss the nature of analogue and digital signals and systems
  • Describe the different forms of Fourier representations
  • Derive the Fourier representations of simple signals
  • Apply the DFT to simple sequences
  • Determine the response of digital systems to standard inputs
  • Design FIR digital filters and describe their implementation

Transferrable Skills

On successful completion of the module, students should be able to show experience and enhancement of the following key skills:

  • Independent learning
  • Problem solving and design skills based on mathematical modelling and analytical approaches


  1. Examination (80%)
  2. Continuous Assessment (20%)

As I am taking over the course, this has to be my starting point. If I was developing a new course, I’d have gone through a process of development and module approval within my Board of Studies and Committee and College Learning and Teaching committee, and the programme description would still be my starting point.

This information is automatically added to the Blackboard site for my module by my institution. It is extracted from the course catalogue and automatically populates the Module Information page. Therefore, if I need to make changes, I have to do it on the Course Catalogue.

Setting Up the Reading List

The course reading list as it appears in the admin screen on iFind Reading
The course reading list in iFind Reading

My second step in setting up my new module was to update the reading list.

There are a large number of books on Signals and Systems and some, like the ones recommended by my colleagues last year, are considered seminal. However, they are also very expensive and available in the library in small numbers and only on short-term loan. They also take a somewhat mathematical approach to the subject.

One of my aims for the course is to attempt to make it more accessible to my students by taking an applied approach to the material. I also want to make use of Matlab and Simulink both for illustration in class but also for homework exercises and as a project. On searching the library, I was surprised to find that there are two good e-book offerings, one of which takes exactly the approach that I want to explore. These books have replaced the original texts in the reading list as Essential and Recommended reading. The original texts have been relegated to Background reading. The eBooks are free for Swansea students to use and have no limitations of the number of students who can access them at a time. They do have the disadvantage that they have to be used via web browser but that’s a small price to pay for the cost.

(The actual value of the eBooks and the restrictions on their access imposed by their licensing will be something I may need to come back to.)

I’ve also added a couple of open educational resources to the reading list. One of these was the on-line text book from used by my colleague last year. The other is a wikibook on signals and systems that is also free.

The one none-free book that I’ve added to my Recommended reading list is a Schaum’s Ouline Series book on Signals and Systems. These books are full of worked examples and I’ve been a fan since I was a student myself. At £11.99 RRP (cheaper on-line) for the Signals and Systems book it’s a small price to pay for such a great revision aid.

To help me to refer to the books in the reading lists, I have tagged them with the course code and course title, the keyword Matlab if appropriate and the author & date.

In our institutional set-up, all this information is added automatically to our Blackboard sites as a Reading List menu item. It is also used by the Librarians to ensure that we have books in stock, etc. Local colleagues wanting to find out more about how the iFind Reading Lists work, should visit the iFind Reading pages on Blackboard.

Building a Course Site in Blackboard: Part 1

Course notebook

This year I am taking over a module EG-247 Signals and Systems from a colleague who has moved to another institution. This is the first of a series of Blog posts with which I intend to document and reflect on the process for my own benefit but in the hope that it will be useful to others.

My first step this year was to buy a hard-backed notebook. There are some nice ones with Swansea University livery in the Campus bookshop for £4.95. I’ve added a label for the course title. I’ll use it to write down my own notes as I go through the reading and jot down my ideas for the module structure and lesson plans.

Should I….?

Should I?
Heads by Chris Jobling

I’ve got a new module to deliver this session. I wonder if documenting the process of putting together the course site on Blackboard would be of interest to anyone?

Feedback in the comments please.