Before the Semester Starts

Back Up Your Course

If you did not backup your course at the end of last term, you should do so NOW to preserve a copy of everything in your course. It is highly recommended that you back up your grades periodically throughout the term and at the entire course at the end of every term. For help, checkout this tip sheet which explains the differences between exporting, importing and archives. It is also recommended that you also download and save a copy of your Grade Center. Use this tip sheet on downloading grades or watch this video.

Prepare Your Course Shell

All courses are automatically created in Blackboard at least four weeks before the semester start date. You will have access to your courses as soon as you are assigned as the instructor in PeopleSoft. Once you have access to the course, you can either build your course from scratch or copy content from another course. For help copying content, check out this tip sheet.

Check Content and Links

1. Update the Syllabus

  • Use the syllabus template
  • Ensure your syllabus is accessible, for help watch this video
  • Text book information is accurate
  • Due dates are updated
  • Point system and assignment
  • Office Hours and contact information 
  • Define course objectives
  • Articulate student and faculty expectations

2. Course Schedule

  • While not required, here is a suggested template
  • Determine whether you want to include the schedule as part of the syllabus or in a separate document.
  • Consult the GRCC Academic Calendar for timelines.
  • Consult the Curriculog document for curriculum information (e.g. outcomes).
  • Upload the schedule to a content area (e.g. Course Information) in Blackboard.
  • Online courses work best when due dates are consistent (e.g. Quizzes every Thursday, etc.)

3. Assignments & Assessments

  • Use Date Management Tool to update all dates in the course.
  • Tweak instructions if needed.
  • Update questions/add new questions as needed.
  • Update points possible in assignment or assessment tool, if needed.
  • Plan for timely feedback.

4. Discussions

  • Create a new welcome message to students and invite them to respond and introduce themselves.
  • If you copied in discussions from an old course, update the author information to list your name and not anonymous.
  • Design interactivity into course with Blackboard discussions, journals, blogs, and/or wikis. For assistance, please call or email dlit@grcc.edu for assistance, there is instructional design support available!

5. Grade book

  • Update calculation and formulas if assignments, assessment or others were added or removed.
  • Hide letter grade column and other columns from students as needed.

6. Course content

  • Check video clips, slide decks, PDF files and links. Make sure they all work.
  • Check accessibility of documents, videos, and images. 
  • Submit caption request(s) if needed

Set Up Shared Access

If you want another instructor or student assistant to have Instructor, Course Builder, or Teaching Assistant Access to your course, you can add them yourself. All you need to know is their GRCC username and you can add them to your course through the Manage Users area.

Post a Welcome Announcement

In your welcome message you may want to include the start and end date/time of class, a brief course overview, instructor’s name and contact information, any textbook information, as well as how you intend to use Blackboard. If you are teaching an online course, direct students to where they should begin such as linking them to an orientation or the course syllabus.

Open your Course Early

Blackboard courses will automatically become available for students on the first day of the semester; however, you can control this and open the course early. For more help, view this tip sheet covering course settings.