Laptop, mobile device, and office suppliesWhether you are teaching online or blended, these tips will help you to start the semester strong!

  1. Provide a clear structure in Blackboard for organizing materials and assignments. Providing a clear structure in Blackboard can help your students easily access resources and assignments. If you’d like a head start, the Academy can provide you with a pre-built Blackboard template for Spring 2023 that includes orientation activities and a weekly folder structure. The template is built out for the entire semester.
  2. Send a clear welcome message to students by January 13 via a Blackboard announcement. Welcome students and provide clear instructions on how to access materials and engage in learning activities before the first week of class to have a strong start once classes begin on January 17.
  3. Provide a short welcome video to introduce yourself and the course. Record a short welcome video to introduce yourself and reiterate important first steps for students. Let them know how they can get engaged with the course in the first week. If possible, share your screen and provide a walkthrough of critical course resources.
  4. Provide an activity to help students engage with the syllabus during the first week. Hands-on activities like a syllabus scavenger hunt, or syllabus quiz can help students get off to a strong start with a more thorough understanding of the course.
  5. Hold an optional, virtual session to meet students and go over important class info. If your course is an online LIVE course, you can hold the session during the times you were originally scheduled to meet. If your course is online ANYTIME, hold the session within the first few days of the course. Encourage students to attend so they can meet you, meet one another, and get their questions answered. Use the time to review critical course information and get to know the students. Blackboard Collaborate Ultra or Webex are great options for holding virtual meetings and allow you to record and post the sessions for those that didn’t opt to attend live.
  6. Hold virtual, one-on-one check-in sessions with individual students. Ask students to sign up for a time to meet with you via a tool like Blackboard Collaborate Ultra or Webex. Hold short meetings with the students to get to know about them and their learning needs, introduce yourself, and check-in that the students have what they need to get started.
  7. Provide recorded “mini-lectures” that cover critical topics in the first weeks. Record and post short videos in Blackboard that provide a quick explanation or example of critical course content to go along with the readings and resources provided in the first weeks. Encourage students to watch by providing a follow-up quiz, assignment, or other activity.

We hope these tips help you start the semester strong! Please remember that the Academy team is here and ready to support you! Feel free to reach out with questions or requests by utilizing the Academy Request Form.