Interact with Students
To build a successful online community, students need the tools to interact and have conversations. Through conversation, we learn about each other, ourselves, the topic, how to get along, and make group decisions. Though time and geography limit some of our conversations, the power of the connection using varied conversation technologies build community.
Students report that their satisfaction with online courses relates to instructor presence and the collaboration and sense of community they experience. In a successful online learning community, students support one another and help each other accomplish what they might not have on their own. When the students interact and direct their efforts toward a common goal, collaboration exists.
Announcements are an ideal way to post time-sensitive information critical to course success. Add announcements for these types of course activities:
- Due dates for assignments and projects
- Changes to your syllabus
- Corrections/clarifications of materials
- Exam schedules
You can add, edit, and delete announcements from the Announcements page. When you add an announcement, you can also send it as an email to students in your course. Students receive the announcement even if they don't log into your course.
Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is an always-on, real-time, online meeting tool available in all Blackboard courses. It lets you share your audio and video, add files, share applications, and use a virtual whiteboard to interact. Collaborate Ultra opens right in your browser, so you don't have to install any software to join or manage a session.
Blogs currently are not available in the Ultra Course Experience. If you are currently using Blogs in your course, please contact an Instructional Designer in the TTaDA to find an alternative solution that works for your course.
What if your students have questions about some of the course content?
If you enable class conversations for individual content items, students can discuss the content with you and their classmates. They can ask for help, share sources, or answer questions others have. As the conversation develops, it appears only with the relevant content. Conversations don't appear on the discussions page.
You can enable conversations for these content items:
- Group assignments
- Group tests
- Offline submissions
- Links to teaching tools
See the Conversations help article for more information.
Online discussions provide unique benefits. Because students can take time to ponder before they post ideas, you may see more thoughtful conversations. You can observe as students demonstrate their grasp of the material and correct misconceptions. You can extend your office hours and reach students more often during the week so that learning is continuous.
A sense of community among students is crucial for a successful online experience. With online discussions, course members can replicate the robust discussions that take place in the traditional classroom.
For smaller course groups, you can also offer group discussions where only members of the group may access the discussion.
Some ways that discussion are used include:
- Instructors post questions on a course discussion board, which students respond to before a class session
- Instructors have students post their work to a discussion board so other students can see it
- Students post reading responses to a discussion board
The email tool allows you to send email to other people in your course without launching a separate email program, such as Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo. You can send email to individual users or to groups of users.
See the Email help article for more information on using the Email feature.
Group work improves critical thinking, problem solving, adaptability, and communication.
You can create groups of students within your courses so they can interact with each other and demonstrate their knowledge.
How group work benefits students
Research has shown students can benefit from group work in several ways:
- Students retain information longer than with other teaching methods.
- Perspectives from group members offer another opportunity to learn new material.
- Students have a positive feeling about the course material.
- Students who establish good relationships with their peers have a more positive learning experience.
- Successful group work leads to students feeling better about themselves.
- Students increase their social and communication skills.
- Students increase their critical thinking skills.
Source: "44 Benefits of Collaborative Learning." gdrc.org n.d. Web. 3 Jan. 2020.
Journals are personal spaces for students to communicate privately with you. Students can also use journals as a self-reflective tool. They can post their opinions, ideas, and concerns about the course, or discuss and analyze course-related materials.
You can create journal assignments that are broad and student-directed. Students can reflect on the learning process and document changes in their perceptions and attitudes. Students can describe the problems faced and how they solved them. You can also create instructor-directed journal entries that are more formal in nature. You can narrow the focus with a list of topics for discussion.
- Students may make unlimited entries
- Students and instructors can decide the number of items that appear per page
- Instructors have a count of graded journals
You and your students can send messages to each other, multiple people, or an entire class. Messages activity remains inside the system, and you don't have to worry about email addresses that may be incorrect or outdated.
As an instructor, you can quickly send messages to all students about important deadlines and schedule changes.
Microsoft’s OneNote Class Notebook (a.k.a. OneNote Classroom) is now available in Blackboard Learn. The OneNote Class Notebook has all the features you expect with OneNote, plus it has private sections that only instructors and their individual students see.
See the Instructor Guide to OneNote Class Notebook for steps to the integration into Blackboard.
Organizations behave like courses and contain tools that enable group members to communicate efficiently. You can post information, have discussions, and share documents.
Organizations can help broaden the scope of an institution's reach across subjects, time periods, and more. Groups that might use organizations include academic departments, study groups, and extra-curricular activities.
If you would like to use an organization site, please use the Blackboard request form to submit your request for a new site or to add/remove users from an existing organization.
See the Organizations help article for more information.
You can include a recording of your feedback so it appears with any text you've added for a student. Add feedback wherever you start grading. In the editor, select Insert/Edit Recording to get started.
Use the Roster link on the Course Content page to view your class list, connect with your students, and match faces to names. You can also send messages to anyone involved with your course.
Users can upload a picture of themselves on their Profile pages. If they don't add pictures, a generic silhouette appears in the roster. Users' profile pictures also appear in the gradebook, groups, discussions, conversations, and messages next to their activity. Your profile picture also appears on the Course Content page.
Select a name to view more information. Everyone controls who can access this information in their profile privacy settings.
See the Roster help article for more information.
Wikis are not planned to be included in the Ultra Course Experience. If you are currently using Wikis in your course, please contact an Instructional Designer in the TTaDA to find an alternative solution that works for your course.