← Back to News List

13 Tips to Get Your Blackboard Course Ready

Checklist to optimize your course before the semester starts

Prepare your Blackboard course shell for the new semester with our updated baker’s dozen checklist.

1. Review new tools & features in Blackboard.

Our Blackboard site receives updates and enhancements every month -- check out the latest news to learn what’s new for Ultra courses.

2. Copy your course content from a previous semester.

Bypass the long wait and digital file transfers required for export and import. Use course copy -- it’s faster and more convenient. TIP: Prep your courses ahead of the new semester for a stress-free start. Request a development course shell for ongoing content development and maintenance. 

3. Create a central Start Here area for your students so they know how to get started.

Include a welcome video. Use Panopto to invite students to explore the course with a course tour and orientation. Let students know what to do first before classes start and where to find important content. Be sure to caption your videos for accessibility.

4. Check course links for broken or missing content.

If you use a lot of external links and third-party tools, check the validity of those resources. You’ll want to verify permissions for Google, Box, and Panopto to make sure your students can view these essential media and files.

5. Update library reserves.

Digital reserves are available through the AOK Library, making it easy for you to request from your desktop and for students to access, read, view, or listen from the convenience of their own devices. Course reserves are synchronized through your Blackboard courses

6. Upload multimedia to Panopto and large files to UMBC Box or Google Drive.

Please remember that Blackboard is not a streaming service. When you update your course content with new resources, be sure to place multimedia (video, audio) in Panopto and other large files to cloud storage. Your students and Blackboard course will thank you for a streamlined delivery. View our 30-minute webinar for additional tips to optimize your course quota.

7. Check your course content for accessibility.

Use your course’s Ally accessibility report to gauge the accessibility of course content and prioritize improvements. Ally automatically creates alternative versions of your files for students including Electronic Braille and mobile-friendly HTML.

8. Update due dates, adaptive release dates, availability, etc.

Use the Date Management tool in Original or Batch Edit in Ultra to modify nearly everything with a date in your course whether availability or conditional release.

9. Set up your virtual gradebook.

Students benefit from knowing how they’re doing in your course throughout the semester. If your course uses a weighted grading system to calculate the final grade, set up your Ultra gradebook or Original grade center as soon as possible.

10. Prepare virtual meeting places.

Create spaces to meet with students virtually. Use Collaborate or Webex for lectures, office hours, drop-in support, student study groups, and more.

11. Welcome students to your course.

No matter what format you teach, create an online introduction to create a sense of connection and build community in your course. Send an opening email or post an announcement to your course to greet your students.

12. Configure your personal notifications.

Choose which notifications you receive about activity in your courses. Notifications can appear in the Activity Stream or via email digest for new messages, gradable items, discussion posts, or student performance alerts.

13. Set your course availability.

Students cannot access your course until you make it available. Use one of three methods to turn your course on for students. TIP: If you use Ultra and you'd like to open your course earlier than 2 weeks before the semester starts, you might need to request support to make sure students see your course when you want them to have early access.

Do you have a tip to share with other faculty? Please comment in this post and let us know!

As always, if you have any questions about teaching, learning, and technology at UMBC, please consider the following options:

Posted: August 17, 2021, 12:02 PM