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Teaching with Blackboard

Blackboard can be effective in:

  • enhancing students success
  • increasing student engagement
  • improving instructor efficiency
  • building and sharing course content
  • establishing teaching presence
  • providing effective course design

This page highlights a variety of tips for best leveraging Blackboard in your teaching.


Enhancing Student Success

Focus on student success and retention with Blackboard tools.

Maximize student retention by proactively monitoring and contacting inactive students, students with missing deadlines, or poor performance.

The Blackboard Grade Center shows the date of last course access for students. The Retention Center Performance Dashboard and Item Statistics provide faculty with information about student activity as well as the ability to monitor students at-risk. Use these tools to determine whether any students in your class are falling behind or neglecting to check Blackboard regularly. Intervene early on by sending students a message, so they get back on track quickly.

Provide timely feedback on student work.

Students need (and want!) to know how they’re doing throughout the semester, so your timely feedback on assignments, discussions, and course activities is essential. And each time you provide feedback to students, you make your presence known–key to making students feel connected to your course and supported in their work. 

Try audio recording feedback to students’ writing, or giving formative, brief feedback more frequently during an assignment to encourage students’ reflection and learning. 

Establish a goal of responding to students’ inquiries or activities on Blackboard within 24 hours Monday – Friday, or on Mondays for activities students may complete over the weekend.

Increasing Student Engagement

Active learning principles are valuable for increasing engagement, collaboration, and communication with students.

Discussion threads are a popular component of Blackboard courses, but an online conversation is just one of many ways you can help students demonstrate knowledge or practice skills.

Think beyond the discussion forum: given your course content, how might you build in multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate knowledge or mastery of a skill across a variety of activities? How will you reinforce skills or knowledge learned in one portion of the course in a future activity? What short assignments might you ask students to engage in and post for quick feedback?

See also "Blackboard and 7 Principles of Good Practice"

Improving Instructor Efficiency

Save time with grading, assessing students, managing assignments, etc.


Building & Sharing Course Content

Develop engaging and interactive multimedia, taking advantage of open educational resources (OER) along with universal design for learning principles (UDL).

Use video to help convey complex concepts and topics. The digital studio provides support in creating lightboard videos, screencast recordings, lecture content, etc.

Establishing Teaching Presence

Tips for increasing digital visibility in courses.

There are a variety of strategies to use in making yourself visible to students in your Blackboard course. Tools such as: Announcements, Email, and Discussion Boards are the most common.

Live virtual office hours through Blackboard Collaborate is another effective tool to use.

Collaborate provides opportunities for:

  • Online Office Hours
  • Online Guest Speakers
  • Interviews
  • Advising
  • Study Sessions
  • Small Group Projects
  • and more!

See also "Blackboard and 7 Principles of Good Practice"

Effective Course Design

Establish a simple course menu and use consistent formatting & organization.

Review your course from the viewpoint of a student. Is information clearly labeled by its function and easy to find? In addition to using consistent formatting and terminology, consider adding features such as Blackboard assignment due dates, guideposts, assignment checklists, multiple representations of essential information (reading assignments listed in the syllabus as well as in a course calendar), and introductory text or audio overviews with each folder/module.

Will it be crystal clear to students when assignments are due? Which readings are required or optional? How much time should students expect to spend on a quiz or project? Ensuring this information is easy to find and clearly stated will go a long way toward helping students stay on track.

Ensure students have the appropriate orientation and support to use the technology in your course. 

Be sure to welcome your students and orient them to your course. You can do this via email, announcements, or a brief video. Flipgrid can be an effective tool to use as an icebreaker for students to get to know one another and to feel like part of a learning community.

To help students assess their preparation on the online/hybrid learning experience, you may wish to assign your students the online self-assessment. In an easy-to-find location, provide students direct links to resources such as the Blackboard student supportGVSU IT HelpDesk, and other relevant student support services.


We're Here to Help!

  • Consult with the instructional designers in IDeL for more online/hybrid course design tips and to learn how to increase your teaching, social, cognitive presence through the Community of Inquiry.
  • Access tips, tutorials, and information for effectively using Blackboard.
  • Contact the Digital Studio for assistance in creating a welcome video or leveraging interactive media in your courses.