Changing the Availability of Assignments, Activities, and Tests in Blackboard

Since the HAP course has already been pre-populated with assignments, activities, and assessments, we thought it was important to share how specific assignments can be made unavailable to students in your particular HAP course offering.

One obvious reason for doing this would be if you intent to supplement the online activity for another face-to-face activity that covers the same objectives.  Your student’s will no longer need to complete the online activity and so, they don’t need to see it.

Rather than delete the item, another option is to make it unavailable, that way, if you change your mind at a later time you can easily make it available to your students versus having to recreate the activity.

Follow the instructions found in this handout and be sure to contact your respective Instructional Technology Specialist.

Blackboard Assessment: Getting the Most Out of Tests and Surveys

There are many successful ways in which an instructor can assess learning in a face-to-face classroom, so why then should a blended instructor consider using online assessments as a regular means to judge learning?

Providing assessments online can add variety to the types of assessments used.  Formative assessments work particularly well online, allowing students to assess their own learning at their own pace.  Aside from ungraded test questions for students to practice, giving students the opportunity to do peer reviews work particularly well online.   Summative assessments can benefit from the variety that a substantial test bank offers, allowing for the rotation of questions. Assessments can also be set to give feedback immediately to students.

Once you’ve decided the type of assessment you’d like to use online it’s important to plan for not only the success of your assessment but, for student success as well.  Make sure that your assessments address the learning outcomes you have set for your students.  You might even want to make this your first formative assessment to see where students stand at the start of your lesson/unit.  Use the same assessment again throughout or at the end of what’s been taught to give your students comparative data.

As you are designing your assessments, consider how much time your students will need to complete the assessment an plan accordingly to ensure that students are given ample time to complete the activity.  Also, remember that clear instructions are important, especially if you intend to deploy the assessment asynchronously.  The rubric located here is a good starting place to designing successful online assessments.

Here are some examples of assessments in Blackboard from the University of New South Whales.


For more information on online assessments and how to develop them, visit:

Some excellent Blackboard video tutorials and instructions on developing online assessment in Blackboard can be found online at,

What are some concerns you have about using assessments online and what are some ways in which you think you might be able to overcome them?  Please share your thoughts by using the comments feature for this post. 

Course Management Strategies

Managing a blended learning course requires the educator to wear many hats. The common threads to many of these “hats” are communication and preparation.

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Communication will be essential for establishing expectations, eliminating uncertainty, and appeasing potential student anxiety.  Throughout the blended learning experience, communication can also take a number of forms such as email, phone calls, texts, participation in discussion boards, etc. Yet, regardless of the mode, communication must remain both concise and consistent.

Critical to communication will be a clear and shared vision of the course’s structure; an understanding of methods and modes of communication itself; reminders key dates and events; outlaying expectations for assignments, activities, and corresponding evaluations.

In preparing for our blended course and its many components, proactive investments made upfront will definitely pay off throughout the course’s delivery and evaluation. There are several things an instructor can do to prep for a blended course before the beginning of the school year. First, spend some time considering the class rules and create a draft document that you can review with students in the first week, or plan a lesson where students generate their own list of class expectations. Also, consider how you will ensure that all class work done in the online environment will remain secure and protected, and plan a strategy for how you will address any instance of data being breached. Setting the rules and expectations for students, and plans for data security in the beginning of the course will go a long way towards encouraging academic honesty in your course.

In addition, Blackboard offers a number of tools that you can take advantage of this summer to help better prepare for your blended course next year. Check out the performance dashboard, a Blackboard tool that can help you manage your students’ progress and activity. Setting up grading rubrics, progress reports, and early intervention plans are just some of the ways you can proactively help students stay on track with their academics. Blackboard also features a calendar that can help both teachers and students with deadlines and time management if set up prior to the school year and maintained throughout.

With both preparation and communication in mind, utilize this rubric and the resources below to write a reflection on resources related to at least 3 of the following management strategies as a blended/ online instructor.