Although Blackboard does not have a full-fledged scheduling system within itself, we can use the "sign-up sheet" feature of the Groups tool to create time slots which students can sign up for – a system which can be used, for example, for scheduling advising appointments. Anecdotal evidence has shown that online sign-ups encourage more students to commit to an appointment time than if they had to make a special trip to sign up at your office door.
The following instructions will use advising appointments in the advisor spaces as the main example, but this tool is available in any course space and can be used for any purpose, such as signing up for oral exams.
Start in the Control Panel, Users and Groups, Groups. In the upper right corner of the banner, click the "Group Sets" button (next to the "All Groups" button).
On the next page, select "Self-Enroll" under the "Create Group Set" button.
On the following page, in section 1 (Group Information), enter a name and be sure to select "Sign-up Sheet only" for the "Group Available" option. In section 2 (Tool availability), un-select all the tools; and in section 3 (Module Personalization), un-select the "Allow Personalization" option.
In section 4 (Sign-up Options), enter a name that will be one of your time slots (e.g., "Monday Nov 5 9:00 AM"). You will have the opportunity to enter the rest of the time slots later. Set "Maximum Number of students" to 1 and in Section 5 (Group Set Options), enter the total number of appointment times you intend to have. Click Submit when you are done.
You should see your new group set on the Group Sets page. Mouse over this new group set, click the "action button" that appears to the right of the name, and select "Edit Set Enrollments."
You should now see a page of appointment slots and you can set the names of the groups to be the times of your appointments all at once on this page. The students will be enrolling themselves (signing up) so no need to do anything with the enrollments at this time (if changes need to be made, you can make those here).
If you discover later on that you need to add a few more slots, just go to the bottom of this page and click "Add Group" for each time. To delete a slot, turn on Edit Mode and click the “action button” to the right of the time slot’s title. Select “Delete” from the menu that pops up.
Finally, go to the content area where you would like the appointment slots to appear (for example, the Appointments area of your advisor space). Turn Edit Mode On and select “Groups” under the “Tools” menu button.
On the following page, click the radio button for "Link to a Group or Group Set" and select (highlight) the new group set you've just created.
Click "Next," and on the following page, set the date/time restrictions (if desired), add any instructions, and click Submit.
In order to “sign up” for a slot, your students will go to the page where you have the appointments and click on the title of the link. They will click on the grey “Sign up” button which appears below the time slot they want. (If an error message appears saying that the group is not available, it can be ignored; the sign-up will have completed anyway.) If someone else has already signed up for a time, it simply won't appear for the next student.
As the instructor, you can see who has signed up for any time by just clicking on it (the "not Enrolled" message refers to you, the instructor, not the students). All updates can be performed from the Control Panel -- Users and Groups -- Groups page.