Online College Courses for Credit

Navigating Our Blackboard Learn Classroom (Online)

Navigating Our Blackboard Learn Classroom (Online)

Author: Deborah Ash

Prepare new learners with the basics of navigating the online classroom in Blackboard Learn facilitated by Dr. Deborah Ash

One of the things that I like to stress in the online classroom is that you are a community of like-minded individuals who have a similar goal – to successfully complete the class and reach core objectives of your program. Knowing how to navigate the classroom will help alleviate any stress that may be present and give you more time to focus on the end goal!

This packet will have "modules" that are aimed to help you navigate our online classroom; this is pertinent to your success and will assist you with your time management. The more familiar you are with the navigation, the more time you will save finding things you need. The more time you save, the more time you have to spend away from the online classroom. Please note, not only am I an online professor & designer of instructional settings, but a prior online learner! The tips and hints contained in this packet are derived from years of experience in the online classroom!

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Your Toolbar

On the left side of your Blackboard classroom, there will be a toolbar.  Depending on what class you are attending, the "links" you have here will vary.  All classes that  I facilitate will have these areas:

  1. Announcements - Very Important!  Check daily!
  2. Staff Information - My contact information, including online and offline office hours
  3. Course Information - Your syllabus (course guide), templates, and other static information
  4. Course Documents - Weekly Session folders
  5. Discussion Forum/Board - Our classroom discussion area - mandatory each week
  6. Journals - This will contain any class journals and your personal journal where we can keep in touch privately.
  7. Tools - All related course tools (messaging, grades, archives, groups, etc.)
  8. Help -  General Blackboard help/tips

The following modules will provide more information on each of the first six (6) links, important information, and my expectations!

Source: Deborah S. Ash


All course related announcements will be posted here.  This includes changes to the syllabus, important date reminders, and schedule changes.  I will also post announcements pertaining to posted grades and feedback here, along with general information that I deem important. 

Knowing what is going on in your online classroom can help you prepare your own schedule.  The Announcements area will help you with this.  One thing to remember?  I do not post anything that is not important to your success in the class!

For Your Information (FYI):  If you pose a question that has all ready been thoroughly answered in an Announcement - I will refer you to that Announcement!  While I do understand that sometimes we all have those "oops" moments, as college learners, it is your responsibility to be successful; it is my responsibility to ensure you have the tools to do so!

Source: Deborah S. Ash

Staff and Course Information

Staff Information
This is where you can find my phone number, online “chat” information, office hours, and email address.

Course Information
Folders within this link will contain your Grading Rubrics (or PATs), the class syllabus, and class schedule.  You will also find any relevant templates within this area.  I place the rubrics and templates here to remain available in one set place without having to navigate session folders.

Source: Deborah S. Ash

Course Documents

Each “week” will be considered a session.  For each session there is a folder which contains:

  • Weekly Overview
    • While the syllabus has an outline of each week, the Weekly Overview will provide a more in-depth description of the Readings, Activities, and Reminders.  Due dates, assignment criteria, and rubrics are included; as our the weekly discussion questions.
  • Session Presentation
    • Most sessions will have a PowerPoint or Camtasia (Flash Movie) presentation to supplement the textbook readings.  These presentations are to assist you - take advantage of them!
  • Session Deliverables/Assignment Folder
    • This folder contain Course Links that will take you directly to your activities, assignments, quizzes, discussions, etc.  It is your one stop "shopping" area for submitting graded work.
  • Extra Resources
    • For each of our sessions, I will provide extra resources that can help you meet the topic objectives.  These will vary from lectures, videos, websites, and other pertinent resources.  While these resources are not “required reading”, I suggest you peruse them to assist in the understanding of the session concepts.

Source: Deborah S. Ash

Discussion Forum/Board

This is where our weekly discussions take place.  You will have a set number of discussion questions per week that are required.  Answers should be more than 350 words, demonstrate critical thinking about the topic, and if any resources are used, proper APA citations and references.  Consider this the "classroom" portion of our class.  If we were in a traditional classroom, this would be the "lecture" and "discussion" portion.  In most cases, your discussions are worth 30% of your final grade.  Again - for your benefit!

Participation:  Each week you will be required to respond to at least two other postings (either mine or a learning peer) for each discussion question.  Consider this the same as an in-class discussion of the topic.  To earn participation points, your responses must be substantial and add to the conversation.  A simple “I agree” or reiteration of someone’s post or the textbook will not suffice.  Ask questions and/or provide insight to the topic. 


Many of our classes have classroom observation requirements.  The syllabus will provide you with in-depth information about these observations.  If it is not in your syllabus, it is not required!

If you have Observation requirements, your Observation Journal must be posted weekly in the online classroom and your logs must be turned in to me by the last Friday of class.  These journals are private and only available for viewing between you and me.

Your Personal Journal is where you can post concerns, private questions, and other information that you may want to convey to me via a personal means.  This is available for your convenience and not required.  I will ask that you each respond to my Welcome message in your Personal Journal so that I may have your contact information in a convenient place.

Important Information

If you do not have one, I suggest getting a flash/jump drive (available at many different stores including Meijer’s & Wal-Mart) to save your work and files on.  You may also use an online storage site such as is 50GB and free).  Why?  This way you have your work backed up and readily available to you no matter where you are!  Imagine your computer breaks down or your Internet is out right before an assignment is due?  Having it on a portable drive will save you a lot of headaches.  Yes – is a safe place for assignments and documents!  I have used them for over 3 years now!

Each assignment has a rubric (grading guide) and a due date.  They are outlined in the Course Syllabus.  I suggest working on these before the date they are due – this will buy you precious time in the online environment when it comes to meeting the requirements.  Ask questions about assignments before the due date or the night before! While I do check in every 24 hours and several times a day – you should not depend on this for last minute questions.

My Expectations

My expectations are really quite simple.  I expect you to:

  • Remain respectful of various viewpoints at all times,
  • Ask questions – they are encouraged,
  • Bring something new to the discussions (use resources outside of the class),
  • Turn work in on time,
  • Heed any and all feedback provided, and
  • Learn something new!

You are all here for the same reason, as stated in the beginning of this document. I am here to make sure you have the tools and information to meet the objectives; but I cannot make you do this.  I can provide you with expectations; as adult learners, you have to choose to meet them! 


It is my goal to provide you with an organized and easily navigated online learning environment; it is your goal to successfully complete our class.  Together, we can achieve this!

Questions?  Please feel free to ask!