Index: Blackboard to PolyLearn

Only PolyLearn is available for teaching Spring 2012 courses.
Blackboard will be turned off May 31, 2012
. After May 31, 2012, instructors will no longer be able to open and view their Blackboard courses.

If you are a long time Blackboard user or just having a hard time figuring out this new Learning Management System (LMS) PolyLearn (Moodle), this Blackboard to PolyLearn Index page may help you find the correct tutorial to get you started. PolyLearn is an LMS just like Blackboard, but the course organization is completely different. Although many of the tools or items are the same, how you organize these for your students is not.

Before reviewing the index links below, start with the....


PolyLearn's News Forum allows the instructor to create announcements, which will be emailed to the students and viewed within the course's Latest News Block. For more information on how to create a News Forum, please see the tutorial.


PolyLearn's Blog tool is located in each users Profile and is not private. If the instructor wants to create a course blog, a wiki can be used to support this. For more information on how to create a wiki as a blog, please see the tutorial.


PolyLearn's calendar is much better than the one in our previous LMS. The Calendar Block is located on the top right of each course. While in the course, the students can see the current month and dates highlighted to show activity deadlines. When the instructor adds an activity or other item with a deadline, it automatically gets added into the calendar. The student can roll over the date and see brief information or click on the date for the full activity information. For an instructor to add a new event that is not an actual PolyLearn activity (which will automatically be added by PolyLearn), simply click on the month and then click on the New Event button and create a new event.

Course banner

The instructor can include any images or banners in their course using the edit summary tool in the top content block of their PolyLearn course.

Within the Edit summary in the top content block...
screen image of the edit summary icon

Click on the insert/edit image button.

screen image of HTML window

...the instructor can add a JPG, GIF, or PNG image as their banner.

screen image of a course banner

Course entry point

There is no need to have a course entry point for PolyLearn since the students will automatically be directed to the course home page when navigating to the course via the My Classes channel from the My Cal Poly Portal. The instructor has the ability to modify the course view by Topic or Week via the Edit Settings tool. For more information on Edit Settings, please see the tutorial.

Course menu or list of links (located on the left of the Blackboard course)

In PolyLearn, there are multiple replacements for the course menu that was previously used in Blackboard. Each activity added by the instructor will automatically be displayed within the Activities block. Also, the instructor can use the topics in their course in order to organize in a way that is very similar to the course menu in Blackboard. For examples of how faculty used PolyLearn to organize their course, please see the CTL Blog (example one, example two).

Digital Drop Box

In order to determine which PolyLearn tool is best for file transfer tasks, the instructor's needs will need to be examined more closely. When needing a destination for student assignment file uploads, the instructor can use the Advanced uploading of files assignment tool to provide a location for students to submit files directly to the instructor. This tool also allows the students to submit multiple files for review and feedback as well as a final version for the final project grade. For more information on the Assignment tool, please see the tutorial.

If the instructor would like the students to upload files for other students to view and/or edit, then the instructor should create a PolyLearn Forum or Group Wiki.
For more information on the Forum tool, please see the tutorial.
For more information on the Wiki tool, please see the tutorial

Discussion Grader

Unfortunately, the Forum in PolyLearn does not offer the ability to grade on a single page as many of you were accustomed to with our 3rd-party Discussion Grader tool. The instructor does have the ability to give grades based on the posts in the forum. Instructors can open a browser window or tab pointing to the gradebook and open another window or tab pointing to the Forum. The Forum tool has a search option to allow the instructor to view one student's posts at a time.


In order to email students in PolyLearn, there are two options. If you would like to just make an announcement, then it would be better to use the News Forum. The News Forum will email all of your studen's as well as make a news topic (i.e., announcement) that will be easily noticed on your News Forum course page. The second option is to use the Quickmail block. This will allow you as the instructor to email individual students or your entire class at one time.

Faculty Information

The Instructor's office hours, email, office location and name can be listed in the course top content block within the Edit Summary section.

Within the Edit summary in the top content block...
screen image of the edit summary icon

...the instructor can add information.
screen image of faculty information

Guest Access [Not currently available - coming soon]

In the Settings > Edit settings for the course, the instructor must choose "Yes" from the "Allow guest access" pull-down menu under the "Guest access" heading. The instructor can also choose to have the guests limited by a password.

Import Course Cartridge

Currently this option is not available to instructors, but if you are interested in uploading publisher content into your PolyLearn course, please email

Import Package

Some instructors teach a course every two or three years and so it was common for them to backup their entire Blackboard course in order to re-upload it back into Blackboard later. Just like Blackboard, instructors who teach once a year can use the Import tool to copy content from last Spring into this Spring's PolyLearn system, but courses that have passed the expiration date (5 quarters) and are no longer in the system will need to be backed up by the instructor and re-uploaded later. The Restore tool has been disabled due to potential errors, but a NEW block is being created for the instructor to use by Winter 2013 (when it will be needed due to the expiration date occurring on our first quarter of PolyLearn courses). NOTE: Instructors should backup their PolyLearn course if it is only taught ONCE every two years.

Virtual Classroom

PolyLearn doesn't have a synchronous whiteboard tool. A synchronous Chat tool is available.