1. Stick to the original menu items.
Blackboard lets you customize your course to suit your needs—but some of the preloaded formatting is there as more than just a launching pad. Keep menu items like Course Material, Assignments, and Syllabus for easy student navigation.
2. Be consistent about your filing system.
What you consider Course Material-worthy may not be the same for your colleague. While consistency between courses is important, it is more vital that you post the same types of material in the same place every single time. This lets your students know what you expect them to be accomplishing. If you post readings in with lectures one week, and post readings under Course Materials the next week, don’t be surprised if your students don’t do the work. Decide early what counts as Assignments for you. Are discussion boards “assignments”? Do you consider tests “assignments”?
Hint:Laying out your filing system in your syllabus can be very helpful—not only for your students, but also for your own organization!
3. Label your pictures.
It may not seem important, but this is the only way blind students can access your material. Don’t have a blind student in your class? Build accessible habits now so you won’t have to rework your course or worry about forgetting a picture. When you insert an image, include an image description and title. For example,can be described as “DRC Logo”, and its title can also be “DRC Logo”.
4. Be aware of external website links.
There’s no need to stop linking to content outside of your Blackboard classroom! Take advantage of the material that’s offered on YouTube, in articles, etc., but be aware that external content may not always be accessible. YouTube videos need accurate captioning (as do your videoed lectures!). Articles need to be text or a PDF, not pictures or poorly-scanned copies. Use material, but be accessibility-conscious.
5. Consider universal design.
What’s good for your students with disabilities is helpful for your students without disabilities! Every student has his or her own learning profile, and the best instructors throw in a little something for everybody. Consider how you learn best: Images? Lectures? Experiments? You likely teach the same way you learn! Don’t change, but Accompany lectures with a handout or outline. Offer a video and an article. Give options for final projects, like a paper, a presentation, a video demonstration, field research, etc. Your students will be engaged in your class and come away with direct application!