Day: September 26, 2018

Preparing to Leverage the Blackboard LMS to Enhance Your Teaching

Blackboard is an effective enterprise learning management system platform for:

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

This post provides some tips and techniques for preparing to Teach with Blackboard.

Not only can Blackboard be used to support face to face classes, it is also the “online classroom” for GVSU’s online and hybrid courses. While a variety of third party and social media tools can be valuable pedagogical resources in teaching and learning, caution should also be exercised when using these platforms to ensure campus policies as well as student confidentiality and privacy is maintained. Policies that include FERPA and web accessibility are the most directly related to using these external technology solutions.

Because Blackboard provides a framework and offers consistency, students can move from class to class at the university without having to relearn or become oriented to a variety of different technologies. While a template exists, faculty have the intellectual and academic freedom to personalize, customize, individualize, and use a variety of applications (including the embedding of third party tools and resources) to create a course that meets their needs and fits within the context of their content.

With a single username and password, students can easily access all of their classes, course content, grades, and quickly communicate with each other and their professors. Further, the GVSU IT HelpDesk provides support for Blackboard as it is an enterprise technology at the university.

Here are a 4 tips for Teaching with Blackboard:


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 CenterPerformance 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.


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


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: AnnouncementsEmail, 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!


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

Learn more about Teaching with Blackboard at GVSU on our website.