These considerations and tools may help you face some of the inevitable challenges presented when moving a course from face-to-face to online.

Welcome and Start Here

In face-to-face courses, you have the opportunity to introduce yourself and the course, and to meet your students and allow them to get to know each other. This sets the tone of the course, expectations, and facilitates trust.

  • Use the Course Home Page as the introduction to your course.
  • Create a welcome Announcement in Blackboard and set it to email students.
  • Create a welcome video using Panopto, embed it on the Course Home Page.

Syllabus and Course Schedule

The syllabus for a course explains course policies and outlines the course objectives and activities. An online syllabus should include additional information for an online environment.

  •  Set expectations for communication, including preferred method of contact, response time, and any virtual office hours.
  • Provide technology information: What kind of devices and software should students have? Who are the technology help contacts for campus?
  • Ensure your syllabus is accessible to all students.
  • Use the Online Syllabus Management System (OSM) for up-to-date, pre-populated policies.

A course schedule is an outline of dates and activities, usually created in a charted document.

  • Provides a quick reference for student assignments, assessments, and due dates.

Course Navigation

To make your course easier to navigate, link to the most important documents or areas in your course menu.

  • Click on the plus sign (+) right above the top left corner of the menu.
  • Select Course Link from the dropdown menu.
  • Choose Browse to open a map of your course. Navigate to the link destination in the pop-up window. Name the link, select the Available to Users checkbox, and click submit.
  • You can link to any area in your course in this way, so if you organize your course by weeks, for example, you can link to each of those areas in the menu.
  • You can also add Tool Links this way, so you can provide a shortcut to discussion boards or exams.

Course Interaction

Student and faculty interaction is essential for a quality online course. Interaction can be broken down into categories: student-to-student, instructor-to-student, and student-to-content. Interaction is created using class discussions, multimedia announcements, synchronous meetings, virtual office hours, and substantive feedback.

  • Use the Blackboard Discussion Board for interaction with content, instructors, and students.
  • Use the Journal tool for specifically instructor-to-student interactions.
  • Use the Blog tool for student-to-student interaction and substantive instructor feedback.
  • Review the Tool Comparison Chart to compare all video/presentation tools integrated with Blackboard.
  • Use TurningPoint Web for browser-based polling.


An important component of successful online teaching is developing efficient assessment strategies and methods.