Create more engaging content

The use of audio, video and images can make your course more engaging, especially when mixed with text, activities and other content. Multimedia can be effective for explaining difficult concepts or showing different points of view. Audio or video introductions recorded by a tutor are an effective way to make a course more personal, particularly for distance learners.

Images

It is easy to include images in your Blackboard courses. These may be diagrams or graphs to explain a concept, or simply illustrations to make your course more visually appealing. You can control the placement of the images, for example to show the image on the left and wrap the text around the image.

For instructions on how to add an image to Blackboard, see the IT Help website.

Audio files (podcasts)

It is fairly simple to record and share a short audio file or podcast. These can be useful as a personal introduction to a module, particularly for distance learners, or to explain key concepts and complex topics.

Screen capture

It is often easier to explain something by recording what is happening on the screen. There are several ways to record your screen and you can include a voiceover too.

Add narration and interactivity to PowerPoint

You can convert your PowerPoint presentation into a package of eLearning with narration, quizzes and interactive features using Adobe Presenter.

Use broadcast media

There may be TV or radio programmes that would be useful for your students, for example relevant news items or documentaries. You can link to recorded programmes, or clips of programmes, using Box of Broadcasts.

Lecture capture

Recordings of your lectures, or short recordings made at your own desk, can be a useful addition to student learning resources.

Structured learning materials

There are several ways to structure materials so that it’s easier for students to work through them independently.

Learning modules

Blackboard’s learning modules let you organise your content so that there is a structured route through the materials. Each learning module consists of a series of pages with a table of contents to make navigation easier.

Screenshot of Blackboard learning module

For instructions on how to create a learning module, see the IT Help website.

Blackboard course links

You can set up course links in Blackboard that take you to a different part of the Blackboard course. You could use these as a simple way to help students navigate through a Blackboard course.

For instructions on how to create a course link, see the IT Help website.

Adobe Presenter

Adobe Presenter lets you add narration and interactive elements to a PowerPoint presentation. It can be a good way to create structured self-study materials, for example this tutorial on Working with Learning Outcomes.

More information on Adobe Presenter.

Online assessment

There are many options for online assessment, both formative and summative.

GradeMark

GradeMark is a tool for online marking and feedback. It is part of Turnitin, so students submit their work through Turnitin as usual. The marker can view the submitted work online and add comments and a mark. Students get the mark and feedback from Blackboard. GradeMark is available to anyone at the University and is one of the recommended methods for online assessment.

More information about GradeMark.

Case study: Online marking at scale in the School of Biological Sciences.

Tests and Quizzes

You can set up both formative and summative tests in Blackboard. Questions can be marked automatically, which saves time, although they can take quite a while to set up. You can set up the tests to provide feedback to students automatically, which is useful for self-assessment.

More information on tests and quizzes.

Case study: electronic examinations in Engineering.

Collaborative tools

You can also assess the blogs, wikis and discussion forums in Blackboard.

Self-assessment

If you want to provide somewhere for your students to reflect and record their progress, there are a couple of options in Blackboard that you could consider.

Journals

The Blackboard journal allows students to write reflective pieces that cannot be seen by other students, but only by themselves and the members of staff. For example, students could use a journal to express their thoughts, concerns and questions privately or to record their progress in a work placement.

Instructions on setting up a journal.

Portfolios

Students could use the portfolio in Blackboard to collect samples of work, achievements and other materials and record their progress. Portfolios can be shared with others and downloaded.

Case study: Portfolios in the Leicester Award.

Encourage collaboration and group working

Blackboard has several tools to enable collaboration and group working and it is possible to assess the contributions.

As well as the options in Blackboard, you could use social media.

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