Engaging Students in Online Interactivity

  • Online and blended instructors are responsible for 2 1/2 hours of online interactivity.
  • What is online interactivity?
    • Communication between instructor and students (group and individual)
      • Public - discussion board
      • Private - journal blog comments
    • Communication student to student
      • Public - typically discussion board (sometimes blog or wiki)
      • Group - typically wiki (sometimes blog)
    • Collaboration - typically a wiki webpage project
  • What should you be doing for your 2 1/2 hours of online interactive weekly contact time?
  • How are you giving students ongoing feedback throughout each week?
Tips for How to Engage Students in your Blended and Online Courses

Online Classes
  • Consult the Instructor Resources folder for specific guidelines.  
    • Click on course information
    • Click on edit view
    • Or go to course information through the control panel.
  • Online course content should not be changed or edited except for instructor personal information.
  • Contact course developer with requests, questions, suggestions, or course corrections.
  • Add weekly announcements
  • Click on the email box to send out announcements as email as well
  • Participate in weekly discussions
  • Grade discussions and journal prompts in a timely manner
  • Recommendations for discussions
    • Let students do most of the discussion
    • Add some responses by mid-week to clarify or encourage more in-depth responses
    • Email students directly if you want to compliment them - or correct or encourage them to improve responses rather than make your comments public.  This way they'll know you read the responses but you avoid criticizing in public, repetitions with replies, or student perceptions of whether you are giving equal feedback to each individual student
    • Email any student who did not get full credit and give reason/rationale.  
    • Use the discussion rubric for grading and email critiques.
    • Grade all discussions weekly - by the end of the week or beginning of the next week.
  • Add comments on private journal blogs by end of week.  
    • Can add either on the blog page or in the grade center.  
    • May be easier to add in grade center.
    • When grading, open two browser windows - one for the journal page/comments and one for the grade center.
  • Provide detailed comments in text box for feedback on all assignments
  • Grade assignments within a few days if possible or let them know when you will have a particular assignment graded.  Aim for no longer than a week on any assignment grading. 
  • Encourage students to use the virtual office discussion prompt for questions to save on email responses.
  • Inform students in announcements if you are going to be unable to respond within 48 hours on questions in the virtual office.
  • Send all student questions regarding technical issues to the technology specialists.  
  • Instructors should also contact the technology specialist for help with Blackboard. 

Blended Classes
  • Consult the Instructor Resources folder for specific guidelines from the course developer.  
    • Click on course information
    • Click on edit view
    • Or go to course information through the control panel.
    • Do not change items that course developer as marked required - or as the signature assignment for assurance of learning
    • Click on the assurance of learning document to make sure any changes you make fit with program learning outcomes and course objectives.  
  • Read through the week's documents and resources to determine which items, folder, links, videos, etc. you want to use in your face to face time.
  • Read through the assignment and assessment requirements so you can give your students a heads-up for the expectations for the following week.
  • Add a weekly announcement and email
  • Participate in threaded discussion
  • Comment on weekly journal blogs and wikis
  • Stay up to date on grading
  • Add or modify the content in your course
  • Demonstrate your own flexibility when technical problems arise.
  • Save and copy your personal resources into your shell for the next term.
  • Share your ideas and resources in your course y-community.

Add a weekly announcement

  • Click on "Create Announcement"
  • Keep all announcements as documentation
  • Add a course link to the correct weekly item, discussion, etc.
  • Send an email of your announcement to the class.

Comment on weekly journal blogs and wikis

  • Journal Comments - Use either author or owner discussion 
  • Wiki Comments

Stay Up to Date on Grading

  • Enter clear due dates for assignments/quizzes/discussions/etc. 
  • Grade discussions throughout the week
  • Grade assignments that are due prior to the next class.
  • Provide details comments when grading.
  • Return assignment Word documents with your inserted comments on how to improve their grade.
  • Below the red button menu, click on "Grade Center"

Assignment Grading from the Full Grade Center
  • Click on "Needs Grading" for latest submissions
  • Click on Grade Details in the Full Grade Center - Green symbol indicates items that have been submitted and need grading.

Full Grade Center
  • Click on dropdown arrow on right of individual student grade column
  • View Grade Details
  • Grade and Provide Feedback to User
  • Providing students with feedback is essential - especially if a student does not receive full credit and further explanation is needed.

Grading Discussion


Discussion Board Grading Options

  • From the weekly Grading Forum: Click on student topics and responses
  • Add Discussion Forum Grade
  • From red button Discussion Board - Click on "Grade"
  • Grading through the Grade Center- Click on dropdown error to right of individual student discussion grade column

Add or Modify the Content in your Course

  • Use the Build Content options in edit mode to add your own resource materials
  • Add Web Links, Course Links, Items, Folders, Additional Discussion Threads, etc.
  • Customize Discussion Prompts for Local Current Events
  • Simplify discussion prompts or assignment details.
  • Go to Blackboard 9.1 Tutorials
  • Embed your own YouTube -  Video Choice
  • Add Web Links to Websites you feel will enhance student learning
  • Create a content folder with your materials so you can copy easily from one term to another
  • Add audio to your class through Voice Authoring (just need a headset or earbuds with microphone)

Demonstrate your own flexibility when technical problems arise

  • Be calm when the technology does not work.
  • Find another solution - print the assignments, alter requirements, simplify, clarify, etc.
  • Email your course developer or faculty member when you find a problem (or fix it and email the course developer to explain the situation.

Save your personal resources for your next class

  • If you have submitted items, created folders, and added resources that you want to use in the future, learn to copy them from one course to another.
  • Locate the course item or folder you want to copy from.
  • Click on copy and locate the new course where you want to copy to.
  • Locate the destination folder.
  • Click on the + to find the correct folder.
Copy or Move Item to a Different Course in Blackboard

  • Locate the Course in which you want to copy your item, folder, external link, etc.  
  • Course links and assignments linked to grade center will not copy.  
  • You can copy quizzes, but you will need to make them available in the new course. 

Locate Destination Folder

  • Browse to locate folder in the destination course

Share your ideas and resources in your course y-community!