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Start Strong: Build Your Online Course

This training presents a bird's eye view of teaching for instructors looking for a fast-start. Become familiar with the foundations of creating your course and engaging your students.

Ready for the Semester?

Get Ready!

Try our checklists with detailed recommendations to help you stay on track while your prepare your courses.

  • Are you on schedule for the semester? Review the Preparing & Managing Your Blackboard Course Space timeline.
  • Are you are a Blackboard and online teaching expert? Try Housecleaning for Your Copied Course.
  • Do you teach face-to-face in the classroom? Facing Next Semester: Prepare Your Face-to-Face Course is for you.
  • Developing a new course? Start with Moving In: Prep Your New Course.

Assessment: Measuring Student Learning

We assess in order to understand how and what our students are learning, and where there are still muddy points or confusion. Authentic assessment is built into your course or lesson right from the start, and is based on your learning outcomes. (See also Teaching Resources tab Language of Teaching section.)

Examples of Authentic Assessment:




Case studies


Group projects


Peer reviews


Research projects




Web sites



Student-led discussion

Student-created TED Talk

(via web conferencing or recorded)

From Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding


Sewell, J., Frith, K. H., & Colvin, M. M. (2010). Online assessment strategies: A primer. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6(1), 297.

Learning Activities

Learn how to develop an engaging assignment and select instructional content that builds students' critical thinking skills. This example draws on Ken Bain's book, What the Best College Teachers Do.

Syllabus & Schedule

A syllabus is so much more than a list of rules, assignments, and dates. A syllabus can a be a learning tool. The articles below offer some up-to-date and creative takes on making the syllabus informative and engaging, as well as a point of reference for the entire semester.

*Your school may have a preferred template and standardized language. Be sure to ask first.

How to Turn Your Syllabus into an Infographic

The 3 Essential Functions of Your Syllabus, Part I 

The 3 Essential Functions of Your Syllabus, Part II 

How To Create a Syllabus: Advice Guide This article is long but rich in advice.

Syllabus Design 

Selecting Content

Forms of Assessment - Assignments

There are many types of assessment. Choosing which one to use depends upon the type of learning and what you are assessing. We've included a few resources for some of the more difficult or less common assessments.

Assessment: Tools

Rubrics are fast and easy to use. Simply evaluate the student work against the rubric’s qualitative statements and assign the associated points. The feedback is “built in”. Develop your own or use one of the many rubrics found online. Build your rubric in Blackboard and it’s ready to use. Share it with your students in advance to set expectations and supply structure.

How Are You Doing?

Falling into Place

You have a course on paper -- now, how do you deliver it to your students? Move along to the "3. Engaging Your Students" tab for advice and guidelines in how you interact with your class.

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