Blackboard Learn is an application for online teaching, learning, community building, and knowledge sharing.

You can use any theory or model for teaching your online course because Blackboard Learn is open, flexible, and centered on student achievement.

At Blackboard, we nurture learners and support those who make education possible, from K-12 and higher education to adult learning and workplace training.

As you get started with Blackboard Learn, you'll find that teaching online shares many similarities with teaching in the face-to-face (f2f) classroom.


Logging In

Where Do I Start?

Video: Basic Course Administration 

Video: Entry Point and Tool Availability

Video: Quick Course Guide

Basic steps

After you complete the first four basic steps, you'll have a course ready for students! Evaluation is a step that should happen continually.

  1. Make a plan
  2. Create content
  3. Preview and feedback
  4. Make content available to students
  5. Evaluate your course

1. Make a plan


Planning is one of the most important aspects in course creation. Take the time to develop an outline or sketch of the items and activities you want to include in your course. Make an inventory of any materials that are "web-ready" or that you can modify easily. Most likely, you'll need to create some new materials to use in your online course.

Sometimes, you can't have all of your content ready by the first day of class. You can prepare content for the first few weeks of class and make only that content available to students. Hide all the content that you still want to work on. You can develop the next portion of content as students work on the material you've made available.

2. Create content


We've compiled a list of some essential materials you may want to add to your first course. Use the links to other topics to explore the types of content and find the step-by-step instructions.

  1. Welcome your students: Let students know you are glad they're here. An inviting tone-somewhat informal, but still professional-is equivalent to a smile and a greeting to a student who walks through the door in a traditional class. You want to include specific instructions on how to begin the course. For example, if they need to review the syllabus first, tell them how to access it. You can create a basic piece of content or send a message with instructions.
  2. Course information: In one area or folder, provide materials that students can access throughout the term.
    • Syllabus, including goals, objectives, textbook information, and your contact info
    • Grading guidelines, late work policies, and where to access grades in your course
    • Topic or lesson schedule and a reminder that due dates appear on the course calendar
    • Technical support and institutional policies
  3. Lectures, readings, files, and multimedia: Include all the materials that students need to develop a basic knowledge of the topic or lesson. To provide your students with an easy-to-navigate and familiar environment, create a consistent structure for each topic or lesson. You might create a folder for each segment. You can include similar content, such as objectives, readings, instructions, web resources, multimedia, and your lectures. You want to create manageable chunks of content and add visual and auditory elements.
  4. Assignments and tests: Start with simple warm-up assignments that build confidence and prepare students for more challenging work in the weeks ahead. You can also provide students with an ungraded quiz so that they can become familiar with the interface. You can create your assignments and tests alongside the content students need to prepare or organize them in folders.
  5. Participation and interaction: To build a successful online community, students need the tools to interact and have conversations, such as in discussions and blogs. Through conversation, we learn about each other, ourselves, the topic, how to get along, and make group decisions.

3. Preview and feedback


You want to be confident that your course is well designed and functions as intended-before your students see it. In the Original Course View, use student preview to review the course content and validate the course behaviors.

More on previewing your course as a student

If possible, view your course on different computers with different browsers and operating systems. You also want to be sure multimedia appears as you want. You might also check your course on smaller devices to see if it appears as you expect.

You can invite a student or colleague to preview your course. When you discover issues early, you'll receive fewer messages from students who can't find materials.

  • Was navigation intuitive? Is content logically organized and chunked?
  • Can they locate assignments and tests?
  • Do they know how to communicate with you and their classmates?
  • Were users able to download documents, open media, find the syllabus and where grades will appear?

4. Make content available


As you create content, you'll probably continue to edit, delete, and move materials around. Experiment! Try different ways to present content. You can hide items if you don't want students to see them. You can also move content to a folder and hide the folder from students.

When you're ready, only show students the content you want them to see right now.

Another good practice is to move the newest content to the top of the content list. Then, students don't have to hunt for the content they need or miss your latest content additions.

More on making content available

5. Evaluate your course


As you build your course, you'll undoubtedly jump back and forth between development and evaluation. Evaluation should be an ongoing component of the process and not the final step in the development of your course. Backtracking to review and revisit isn't only acceptable but preferable.

Evaluation can come in several forms.

  • Continue to refine and add to your course as you teach it and discover what works well and what didn't.
  • Ask students to submit evaluations of your course at the end of the term.
  • Ask other online instructors what works well for them.
  • Explore other online courses. Always be willing to "steal from the best!"
  • Ask us about the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program which showcases pedagogically sound and technologically rich courses.

Mobile apps

Blackboard: Students receive mobile updates about your courses, take assignments and tests, participate in discussions, launch Collaborate sessions, and view grades.

Blackboard Instructor: Blackboard Instructor is a mobile app that enables instructors to view course content, grade assignments, connect with students in discussions, and launch Collaborate sessions.

Blackboard Collaborate: Collaborate is a mobile add that enbles organizations or classes to live chat.