Use a Course Prep Checklist
Sometimes course copy in Blackboard can be a lifesaver.
If you or a colleague have taught a course before, copying over content from a previous semester gives you a great foundation to start from. But the tricky thing can be remembering all the pieces of a course that need to be updated.
I’ve created this PDF version of a Course Prep Checklist to help you, but feel free to modify it to fit your individual needs. Below I’ve got the same information, but with a few shortcuts and quick tips to help you save time.
Start With the Course Orientation Info
Whether you plan to use Blackboard a little or a lot, this section is the place to start because everyone has to upload a CV and syllabus. Here’s the list for this section:
- Upload your CV and syllabus
- Update your office hours (typically on a page labeled “Professor” or “Instructor”)
- Review your orientation content (typically where you include instructions about how to get started in the class, how to access publisher tools, textbook info, etc.)
- Update your class calendar with dates for the current semester
I like the idea of adding the calendar to this section of your course. If your students are submitting homework through Blackboard, all the important dates will already be populated for you — all you have to do is add the tool. But you also have the option to add any dates and deadlines manually. This could be a nice way to use your syllabus to highlight the most significant dates and deadlines and then refer students to Blackboard for all of the weekly or day-to-day tasks.
Check Your Assessments
If you’re using Blackboard for tests, quizzes, and homework submission, the next obvious things to update are all of the assessments. Here are some things to consider:
- Update the due dates for all tests, quizzes and homework assignments.
- Check the availability status of all assessments. Make sure it fits your preferences.
- Double-check that all tests and quizzes are deployed and in the appropriate locations in your course.
- If applicable, pair your publisher tools with your Blackboard course.
- Review the Grade Center columns. Make sure all assessments are accounted for and that you are happy with the organization. This includes testing to ensure that any publisher tools are pushing grades to your Blackboard course.
These course updates might seem like the most daunting of the whole process, but there are a few things you can do to work efficiently. You don’t have to go hunting and searching around in Blackboard to find all your assessments and update them.
Start by going to the Grade Center and selecting Column Organization from the Manage dropdown. You can easily see each assessment with the category, due date and points possible.
Once you’ve identified each item that needs to be updated, go to the dropdown arrow next to each item in the Grade Center and select Edit Column Information. You can quickly revise the due date, points possible and category here.
To ensure that all the tests and quizzes that you want are correctly deployed, navigate to Tests, Surveys and Pools in the Course Tools section. From there, you should see a list of all the tests and quizzes and are deployed and where in the course they can be found.
Tip: When copying over tests or quizzes from other courses, don’t just assume that checking off the right navigation page where your assessment is located will be enough. You also need to select to copy over “Tests, Surveys and Pools” and “Grade Center Columns and Settings.”
Make Sure Some Items Didn’t Get Copied Over
Just as important as ensuring that the right content did get copied over, you’ll also want to make sure you didn’t mistakenly copy over any content used specifically in previous semesters. This typically means:
- Make sure your course doesn’t include any announcements posted in previous semesters.
- Double-check any discussion board content. You may want Forums from previous courses, but you won’t want any of the threads from older classes. (The authors of any content like that displays as “Anonymous” in your new course.)
Tip: To avoid the anonymous posts in your discussion board, make sure during the course copy process that you have selected the “Include only the forums, with no starter posts” option.
Double-check Content From Outside Sources
If you are using content or resources developed by another source, you’ll want to check to make sure that content is still available. You would be amazed how often web pages are deleted or moved, etc.
- Check that any embedded content (YouTube videos, Slideshare presentations, etc.) is still in working order.
- Make sure links to external sources (including publisher tools and content) still work.
Tip: To quickly check the links within your course (not including the external links mentioned above), navigate to “Check Course Links” in the Packages and Utilities section. This tool looks for broken links caused by items being moved, renamed or deleted. This is always a good double-check after you’ve done a course copy!
That’s it! If you’ve followed along with this checklist, chances are your course is ready or near-ready to go. Here’s hoping for a great new semester. If you need help doing any of the things listed here, please contact me.