Linking the Portfolio Widgets, Pt. 2: The other side

In my last post, I described the method by which I linked the Portfolio Templates Widget to the Portfolio Feedback Widget. From the point of view of the tutor (or, rather, the recipient of a portfolio), all they need do is go to their “Received Portfolios” page, see which portfolios have been shared with them, and click the title of it to open it. This then opens the Feedback widget with the relevant portfolio inside it.

But how does a student who has authored a portfolio see the feedback that’s been left for them on their Blackboard portfolio? To do that, they need to be able to access the Feedback Widget from their list of portfolios (called the “My Portfolios” page).

Bb's Basic Portfolio Contextual Menu

The problem is we can’t implement the same method we used for the page of “Received Portfolios”. There we could hide the contextual menu because it was redundant. And we could re-direct the title link.

But the contextual menu on the “My Portfolios” page is much more useful. It allows a user to edit properties, build more pages, share with friends, download, and leave comments. That last one is important, by the way, but I’ll come back to that shortly. The point is that we can’t hide that menu…

And due to the way Blackboard implements their contextual menus, we can’t customise it either. Not that I can see. Nor can we re-purpose the title of the portfolio because it’s not then clear to the user that this opens the Feedback Widget instead of the usual preview of the portfolio.

Perhaps this is also a problem for the “Received Portfolios” page but I think there it makes sense for the portfolio’s title to open the widget whereas it’s more important for a user to be able to see their portfolio as it is and as they might download it when they click on its title. So I have decided to re-purpose another part of the interface.


Blackboard provides several columns of information alongside the portfolio information. Some (like the Portfolio Type column) are redundant (we only offer one type of portfolio on our system) so I have hidden them.

...and after

I have then taken the Comments column and re-titled it Feedback (as pictured). This column gives the number of comments left on a portfolio. Clicking on the number takes you to the “Manage Comments” page. But, as I pointed earlier, this generic comments feature is already available through the contextual menu. So I have decided to take those links and re-direct them to the Feedback widget (you can see the hint of portfolio id there).

As a result, the whole interface looks a little bit neater and the widgets are linked up!

About Guy

I am currently Enhancement Officer (for Education Technologies) at the University of Reading. I am also studying for a Masters in Research at the University's School of Systems Engineering.
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