Adding content to the course provides instructors with the opportunity to model academic best practices such as accessibility, proper citations and adherence to copyright laws. Accessibility is an important concern for course materials. Pay attention to the information about course materials in Blackboard Ally. Merely scanning a printed document does not meet accessibility standards.
- If possible, provide access to the material in an original form, or work with the library liaison to find that particular resource.
- Color presents another challenge for learners. Ensure that course materials have high color contrast to background so that learners can easily read them.
- Avoid tables if possible, as screen-readers struggle to read tables in informative ways.
- Provide alt-text for images and scripts for lectures.
- Use close-captioned videos if videos are necessary.
Beyond accessibility, break up course materials into weeks, modules, or units.
- Connect the course objectives to each week, module, or unit. Be explicit about this connection so that learners know why they are engaging this material and in these activities.
- Be clear to learners how they will be assessed and how the assessment will “count” toward their grades.
- Include specific instructions to learners for what to do with materials.
- Should learners read and annotate? What does “annotate” mean in this course?
- Should learners provide a response? How many words?
- How much time will learners have to complete the task?
- Do learners need to submit assignments in a particular way or using a particular tool? Will this way and/or tool work for all learners? If not, what additional options might work?
- Are assignments focused around specific points in the reading or lecture? How so?
- How will learners be assessed on their work? What is high-stakes or low-stakes? Consider including formative assessments or checks for understanding to facilitate learner self-assessment.
- Every question the instructor can answer pro-actively in the course design reduces learner anxiety and increases ability to learn. These choices also reduce demand for instructors to answer questions about the process of the assignment.
Courses that are not lecture-based can also be creatively managed using Blackboard.
- Learners can submit images and videos (think a 360-degree view of a sculpture) or write a description.
- They can use Collaborate Ultra to present to the other members of the class.
- Learners can produce individual performances either “live” through Collaborate or on videos. Together, learners can be very creative.
Instructors may also ask them how to demonstrate their learning authentically, encourage them to participate in developing rubrics and assessments, and discuss how the rubric will apply to their work products.