A number of different areas of content and issues to consider that are important to running a successful Backboard Course.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means and should be thought of as some basic guidelines. Items listed should be considered minimum, where as items listed as Extra should be thought of as desirable, commonly used extras. However, it is important to remember that suitability is more important than box ticking.
Distribution of the information/content below may be handled in different ways depending upon the individual school or subject group. For example policies and procedures may be made accessible elsewhere, in which case suitable links and/or instructions should be within the Blackboard Course to inform the student.
- Module descriptor – Students should have easy access to official documentation that describes what should be undertaken during the module.
- Syllabus and Learning Outcomes – Text or a link to a file or webpage.
- Course usage statement – How students are expected to use the Blackboard Course and how staff intend to use it e.g. which activities will be taking place via the Blackboard course, assessment process etc.
- Staff contact details – Name, position, telephone, email, location, drop-in hours, as appropriate. Profile pictures (for staff) particularly important for distance learning courses. “Staff” in this case may mean any staff that are related to the module; lecturers, technicians, administrators etc.
- Communication statement – How students and staff will communicate (e.g. in Blackboard discussion forums or email) and expected staff response times. Expectation management in the use of communication tools.
- Announcements – This is a one way channel for important news- students can’t post or reply.
- General Q&A forum Extra – A forum for tutors and or students to pose questions and answers.
- Learning forum(s) Extra – For discussions related to specific course activities.
- Clearly group and label items – Helps usability and accessibility.
- Tidy up – Remove all unused modules from the homepage as well as any unused content areas from the template. If using the tools page hide links to tools that are not being used.
- Check links – use the Blackboard broken link checker to ensure that links have not broken during course copy.
- Electronic Documents – such as presentation slides, notes or handouts should be made available on Blackboard (see formats below).
- Reading list(s) – This information should be provided to your LIS specialist who will populate the lists in the Blackboard Course.
- Links to external online resources Extra – see accessibility below.
- Lecture Recordings Extra – if Aston Replay is used, link to the Panopto Course Tool.
- File formats – PDF versions (e.g. of PowerPoints) should be provided wherever possible, as they can be accessed on a variety of devices.
- Word documents – should be used only for electronically-editable documents such as templates, worksheets or cover sheets.
- Video – Depending upon the type and origin of your content, using Aston Replay, Kaltura, Box of Broadcasts (content only available in the UK) or the YouTube mashup tool will ensure that the content can be accessed on as many devices as possible.
- File Size – Compress files to minimise the file size and aid those students viewing them on mobile devices.
- Images – Ensure graphics have alternative text (for screen-readers etc);
- Text – Fonts should be large enough to read (minimum 12pt); and coloured text should have a high contrast against backgrounds.
- Navigation Extra – Should be as consistent as possible between different Blackboard Modules.
- Copyright legislation – Applies to all materials within Blackboard. LIS can provide assistance with copyright.
- Aston policies and procedures – provide links to relevant policies, such as Academic Regulations, Student Disability Services, Examinations, Intellectual Property Rights etc.
- Module Feedback / Suggestion box Extra – Anonymous student feedback can be gathered using the Blackboard Survey Tool.
- Assessment outline – Include details (instructions, marking criteria), cover sheets (where appropriate) and weightings for assessments.
- Electronic submissions – How students are to submit electronic documents.