Teaching and Learning with Blackboard

Blackboard is GVSU's enterprise learning management system, used by faculty to:

  • enhance student success
  • increase student engagement
  • improve instructor efficiency
  • build and share course content
  • establish teaching presence
  • provide effective course design

This page highlights the benefits of using Blackboard to support student success and retention at Grand Valley State University. 

Teaching and Learning with Blackboard

Blackboard and 7 Principles of Good Practice

Be sure also to review "Blackboard and 7 Principles of Good Practice" for discovering ways that Blackboard can be leveraged to meet Chickering and Gamson's Seven Principles of Good Practice in Higher Education.

Good Practice and the Online/Hybrid Course Peer Review Rubric

Teaching online? If so, don't miss the "Good Practice Teaching Standards" derived from the GVSU Online Education Council's Online/Hybrid Course Peer Review Rubric.


Focus on student success and retention with Blackboard assessment and insight 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.  Faculty can also assign due dates to graded activities which display as notifications and reminders in the Activity Stream and in the Bb Calendar.

The Activity Stream, Analytics, Progress Tracking and  Student Progress all 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.

Interactive Rubrics also support institutional assessment and accreditation requirements. 

Enter due dates and 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.


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

Discussions 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?

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

See also "Blackboard and 7 Principles of Good Practice"


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

  • Use the assignment tool in Blackboard to collect digital files from students.
  • Take advantage of the Blackboard interactive rubric for grading assignments.
  • Leverage electronic testing in Blackboard. With tests or quizzes in Blackboard, everything is auto-graded (except for essay) and faculty can review validity and item analysis stats which is time consuming to collect with a paper/pencil assessment. In addition, questions could be aligned with goals or outcomes, providing another venue for accreditation documentation.
  • Further, students can easily check their own grades and monitor their progress across all of their courses as well as assessment feedback.


Use the content authoring tools or productivity applications to generate or author digital course materials.

Consider developing engaging and interactive multimedia, and taking advantage of open educational resources (OER) along with applying 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. Panopto is GVSU's enterprise academic video streaming platform that is integrated with Blackboard.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, be sure to review the level of accessibility of your course content using Blackboard Ally.


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/Messages ,Discussions, and Panopto are the most common.

Live virtual office hours through Zoom 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"


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 support, GVSU IT Services, and other relevant student support services.


  • 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.

Digital Transformation & Reach Higher 2025 Connections to eLearning Technologies

The Information Technology (IT) Division has prepared our Digital Transformation (DX) Strategy in support of GVSU’s Reach Higher 2025 and IT's strategic initiatives. The three pillars of the Digital Transformation Strategy include: 

  • Service Excellence and Greater University Support
  • Modernization of Enterprise Solutions
  • Accelerating Transformation through Innovation

One of eLearning Technologies' biggest projects during the 2022-2023 academic year is modernizing our learning management system to Bb Ultra.  See our LMS Migration website for historical information, timeline, and ongoing efforts. 

Page last modified February 27, 2023