Dirt Simple Mini-Course

Create a Weekly Announcement In Blackboard

In this lesson we’re going to show you how to create a weekly announcement.

Announcements are the bread and butter of communication in a simple online course. And weekly announcements are particularly important.

Why? Think about how you teach in a face to face class. You present students content. You have discussions. You run learning activities. But there’s one other important thing you do, so simple that you may forget you do it.

At the beginning of the class you tell the students what’s coming due in the next week or two. At the end of the class, you remind them again. And you say, “If you have any questions, ask me.”

If you want your students to be successful you need to replicate that online.

So let’s make a weekly announcement. We reach the announcements page through the main dashboard by clicking “more announcements”.

And we click this button to create an announcement.

We add a title.

I’ve actually composed our text separately in Notepad, and we’re going to paste it in here, then do a little formatting.

What goes in our weekly announcement? The same sort of things we would remind them of in class.

Read the chapter. Download the assignment template, fill it in and submit it. Answer the discussion question. Show up to the Zoom meeting if you want to discuss it more. Contact me with questions. (If you’re feeling adventurous, also invite them to post questions to your new General Questions forum).

In this case I’ve bolded things the students need to do. Some like to do this as a bulleted list. You can get fancy and highlight them with the highlighter tool. What’s important is that the student can look at the announcement and scan it to find out what they need to do, and after they have done it they can come back to make sure they didn’t forget anything.

When you’re done with the announcement, you can hit the red submit button at the bottom of the page, and the announcement will be published immediately. Many instructors wish to set these announcements up before hand, and have them come out after the last week’s assignments are due. If you want to schedule this, set a date and time for publication before submitting.

Again, this is the same thing you do in your face to face classes, you’re just doing it online. And by doing it here you’re actually providing the information most crucial to your student’s success. You’re telling them what they need to get done — not for the course as a whole, but now, this week. And you’re telling them where to find the things they need to get it done.

This seems so simple, but it can make a huge difference in the lives of our students. Like us, they are juggling many obligations. And every minute they spend sifting through the syllabus or clicking around the LMS to figure out what they need to do is a minute that they are not engaging with what your course is actually about. Even worse, because online learning lacks that reminder we get from face to face meetings, without such communication many students will simply lose track of what is due when, and slowly disappear from your course.

It’s a small hassle, putting this together every week, but it will save you time in the end, and will have a surprisingly large effect on the success of your students. Don’t forget your weekly announcement!

The End?

If you’ve been following these lessons in order, you’ve now learned how to:

  • Create and assess a basic Word-based assignment.
  • Create and assess a discussion forum.
  • Create and send a weekly announcement that reminds students what to read, watch, and do for the week.

If you remember the initial post, this is the “green quadrant” of digital teaching tools, with a simple low-bandwidth assessment thrown in for good measure.

These tools won’t serve every class’s needs. Lots of classes need Blackboard created online quizzes (and we’ll add a quiz tutorial to this in a bit). And most classes can benefit from a tool or two in the yellow and blue quadrants.

But despite the fancier tools available, it’s good to start by asking what you can solve with this smaller set of tools first, and look to the more complex stuff to fill gaps in the course.

All Lessons

Lesson 1
What Is Dirt Simple Online? Why Use It?

Lesson 2
A Simple Word Document-Based Assignment

Lesson 3
Creating a Simple Discussion Forum

Lesson 4
Creating a Weekly Announcement In Blackboard

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