Making the Shift

Our Staff Can Save You Time

We know that your goal is to create the best possible educational experience for your students, and that simply putting all your F2F materials up on Blackboard is not an effective approach. Converting a class into an online format requires careful thought and preparation, and leveraging the experience of the TLT staff will save you time – time developing, time reviewing, and time researching.

When Possible, Start Slowly

Ideally, you should convert a traditional class into an online class gradually: start by incorporating online elements into your traditional class using many tools available on Blackboard, such as announcements, discussion boards, AdobeConnect desktop sharing, wikis, quizzes, and the Grade Center. Taking time to learn these tools and how they impact instruction is the best place to begin. 

A semester (or more) before class begins:

  1. Read literature on best practices here, but especially review these helpful tips before designing the online class.
  2. Convert your syllabus to an online syllabus using an established online syllabus template, such as the ones found here.
  3. While you are building your course, make sure it is unavailable for student viewing. While building, collect your course materials into an electronic folder on your computer, then upload your materials in Blackboard and design your course learning modules. See how to upload your files into Blackboard by watching this video. Make sure students have access to all of the materials needed for class by linking to them from the Documents folder, Assignments folder, or another folder of your choice.
  4. Create your quizzes, assignments, and discussion boards in Blackboard.
  5. Set up your grade book in the Grade Center; you can watch a tutorial about how to use the Grade Center at the Blackboard Video Tutorial Site.

Two weeks before the class begins:

  1. Use the Date Restrictions tool to hide any materials you are not ready for your students to see, double-check all links.
  2. Post a welcome announcement for your students and create an orientation or ice-breaker activity.

One week before the class begins:

  1. Open your class to allow students time to familiarize themselves with the course. See how at the Blackboard Video Tutorial Site.
  2. Your first learning module should introduce the syllabus, provide tips for success, and orient the students to the course organization. Label course materials and learning modules clearly, and strive for consistency in how you present the materials. Blackboard allows you to use “Date Restrictions” to hide items from student view until you want them to become visible, so do yourself a favor and get everything posted in advance. You won't regret it.
  3. Email your students a welcome letter and invite them to explore the course. Describe the course expectations and activities, as well as provide helpful links to the location of the course, the location of the syllabus, how to log in, what materials they need to purchase and where they can get them, and how to contact the Blackboard help desk. You can search for online course welcome letter templates, or check out these samples from St. Cloud Technical CollegeUniversity of New Mexico Los Alamos, and the University of Washington.

Building a Course Takes Time

Research on best practices suggests that engaging a diversity of learning styles, incorporating a variety of activities to promote cognitive and social engagement, is critical to student learning. Discussion boards, student-led activities, videos, recorded lectures, and posted readings are all easily manageable in Blackboard's learning management system.

Keep it Organized

Your first learning module should introduce the syllabus, provide tips for success, and orient the students to the course organization. Label course materials and learning modules clearly, and strive for consistency in how you present the materials. Blackboard allows you to use “Date Restrictions” to hide items from student view until you want them to become visible, so do yourself a favor and get everything posted in advance. You won't regret it.

We are here to help! Make an appointment with a Faculty Center staff member to discuss the challenges and opportunities you will navigate in converting your face-to-face class into an online course.

Want to know more?