Rotating Content in a CMS (Desire2Learn, Blackboard)

The reason I originally conceived the Rotating Content Tool was because of my deep frustration in using Blackboard, and with course management systems in general. I believe strongly in the power of the Internet to deliver wide-ranging, inter-connected content, yet course management systems usually do not support truly dynamic internet content. Instead, they are usually the repository of Word documents, Powerpoint presentations, and so on.

I think you all know the feeling - every time you log into a Blackboard course, the course homepage looks stultifying the same as it always does. So, just imagine how Rotating Content scripts can liven up this static web environment! If you want your students to log on to the course management website every day, give them a reason to do so, with a Joke of the Day or a Story of the Day. You can use random content so that every time they return to the course homepage, they will see something new.

By way of example, let me show you the Desire2Learn website for my Biblical Greek course (unlike Blackboard, Desire2Learn gives you a lot of freedom in customizing the homepage of your course). If you want to explore this Desire2Learn course, you can log on to with the username visitor and password visitor. Just select Biblical Greek from the Fall 2005 course offerings (under the University College heading).

You can actually see 5 different scripts at work on this page:

  • Assignments Calendar. This is a date-based content script which reminds the students of any assignments due on today's date.
  • Random Greek Verse. This displays a random verse from hundreds of Greek Bible verses.
  • Daily Gospel Portion. This is date-based content which displays a portion of the Greek gospels, with one portion for each day of the year, allowing you to read all four Gospels in Greek over the course of the year. Each portion is linked to a separate webpage which provides an English translation and an audio version of the Greek.
  • Headline News. Even though my students are studying ancient Greek, I want them to pay attention to current events!
  • Random New Testament Image. This is the same collection of images which I am using to illustrate the Biblical Greek website where students actually do most of their work for this course (they only use the course management site for quizzes and the discussion board).

Since some of these scripts are random content, they will change every time the page reloads (Random Greek verse, Headline News, Random New Testament Image). Other scripts are date-based content, which change every day (Assignments Calendar changes Monday through Friday, and the Daily Gospel Portion changes every day of the week including Saturday and Sunday).













Contact: or visit Last updated: July 22, 2005 9:09 PM