As instructors develop course materials for students,
they almost always find that there are supplemental
documents that they want their students to read.
These are usually articles published in various
journals. A traditional approach has been to Xerox
these articles and hand them out in class. This
has a couple of problems: 1) except for cases of
spontaneous need, this is a copyright violation; and 2)
it is expensive to Xerox so many documents.
Unfortunately this practice has been ported over to the
electronic world of Blackboard, where professors may
scan in the documents and place PDF versions of them in
their Blackboard courses for student consumption.
This is even more a clear copyright violation and, in
most cases, unnecessary.
There is an easier way.
Palomar College maintains subscriptions to various
electronic journal databases that contain thousands of
articles from all sorts of journals. Our
librarians, in concert with professors, have chosen the
databases that contain the most useful journals for
student research in a community college. It is
possible, and indeed a best practice, rather than
creating handouts for students or illegally scanning
documents for upload to Blackboard to create links from
within Blackboard to the articles you wish your students
to read. If the student wishes to print the
article, so that she can have a hard copy, she can.
It is all legal because the college has paid the license
fee that allows permission to print. There are
three main journal database vendors with whom the
college has contracted: EBSCO, JSTOR and PROQUEST.
We also have various Gale Group databases, but links to
Gale resources will not work for off-campus students.
Here is how to create links to those journals from
within Blackboard that will work for both on-campus and
Access the college's journal databases through the
Library's database web page:
Note that the databases are usually identified by
vendor, either by being followed by an indicator like
(EBSCO) or (ProQuest), or simply by name, like
JSTOR. These are the major research journal
databases we will discuss here. There are several
others that the techniques discussed here will work
with, and we will mention them below.
When one accesses these databases from on-campus, it
is simply a matter of clicking a link and accessing the
database home page. From off-campus, however, the
user must supply his/her Palomar College credentials
(username and password) before gaining access to the
database. This is because the databases monitor
incoming web traffic, and traffic that comes from the
range of valid Palomar College IP addresses is permitted
through unchallenged. From off-campus the database
access must be routed through what is called a proxy
server in order to let the database web servers know
that this is a valid Palomar College inquiry, and not
just some random attempt by an anonymous web user to
access freely access for-pay information. The
proxy server tells the database server that this is a
valid Palomar inquiry, provided that the user can
provide valid Palomar credentials, i.e., the user's
Palomar College username and password. For
students this is their eServices/Blackboard username and
password. For faculty members this is their
Palomar College email username and password.
The reason for providing this long winded explanation
is to explain why the external links to journal database
articles from these vendors must be created with a
prefix that routes them through Palomar's journal
database proxy server. It is the proxy server's
job to verify the user's credentials and pass the
request on to the vendor database, which sees these
requests as coming from a valid Palomar IP address.
Note the name of the proxy server, prozy.palomar.edu.
This name is essential in setting up external links to
the journal database articles so that they can be
accessed from both on and off-campus students. The
procedure for finding and creating the actual URL you
must use to create an external link in Blackboard varies
by vendor, as follows:
In the case of EBSCO databases, our library staff has
worked with EBSCO to automatically embed this proxy
address into the permanent links to journal database
articles. When performing a search for an EBSCO
database article, simply click the Citation link and
copy the external link for use in Blackboard.
Click the citation icon:
Right-click the link in the box
labeled "Persistent link to this record (permalink).
Choose copy from the context menu, and use this link to
create your external link in Blackboard. Here is
part of a sample link:
Note the prefix prior to the actual
article URL: "http://prozy.palomar.edu/login?url=".
For the JSTOR and ProQuest databases, you must prefix
the persistent links to articles with this exact text so
that the link will work from both on and off campus.
For EBSCO links you do not need to since it has already
been done for you.
In the case of JSTOR, perform your search and access
the article in which you are interested. The area
above the text of the article will contain a
bibliographic summary, and next to the summary an item
Click the "Item Information" link:
The resulting Bibliographic Info frame
will contain a Citation area with what JSTOR calls a
"stable URL." This is the URL you need to copy and
prefix with the Palomar College proxy address so that
the link will work for both on- and off-campus students.
In the case of this specific article,
the URL you will need to use when creating the external
link in Blackboard is:
the proxy prefix plus the Stable URL.
With ProQuest databases the procudure for getting the
persistent or stable URL is slightly different.
First, perform your search and find an
article you want to link. I am using the
Historical New York Times as an example here.
ProQuest will respond with a two-framed results screen.
In the lower frame is the PDF of the article. In
the upper, various links related to the article.
Click "Copy link":
A pop-up window will appear (note that
to use this database you must allow popup windows in
your browser). The popup windows will contain the
persistent URL to the article.
Once again, to create the link to be
used as an external link in Blackboard, preface this URL
with the Palomar proxy prefix.
This technique will also work with the Oxford English
Dictionary, and with ProQuest's Safari Tech Books Online
screen videos on that product). It will not
work on the Cenage/Gale group products.
Prefixing the Easy Way
Since the Palomar proxy prefix is not exactly
the easy way to use it is to create a text file that
contains this proxy address, and then open it and append
the various article URLs as needed. The trick is
to close this file without saving it, so that it will
contain only the proxy prefix each time you want to
re-use it. Use a pure text editor, like Notepad on
the PC or BBEdit on the Mac or PC. The following
quick screen video shows this technique.
How to Make the URL, or "External" Link in Blackboard
After adding the proxy prefix and
copying the entire persistent (or "stable" or "link")
address, open your Blackboard course, go to the content
area where you wish to place the link, and create a URL link.
URL links are links to
web-based materials stored outside of Blackboard.
This content can load optionally in a new window (or
tab) or in the Blackboard content frame. We
recommend using a new window or tab.
Here are the mechanics of creating an
external link in Blackboard:
Open the content area where you want
to create the external link.
Click the Edit View link in the upper
right corner of your screen.
URL link choice in the
Build Content drop-down area:
Give the link a Name and paste the
url that you have copied from the journal
database--including its proxy prefix--to the URL field,
providing any special instructions to students in the
text box editor just below the URL field:
If you wish the link to open in a new
window or tab (outside the Blackboard content frame),
change the "Open in new window" option to Yes. The
default is No.
Adjust any of the other options you
wish, like content availability, view tracking or time
restrictions, and then click Submit.
You will see a URL link icon
appear in your content area with the Name and
instructions you supplied.
Using this technique will enable your students
to use the thousands of journal database articles to
which we subscribe from on and off campus. tTey
are free to email the articles to themselves, print
them, copy and paste from them, etc. It will also save
your department's duplication budgets and protect the
District and yourselves from potential copyright