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Washington State University

Getting Started

  • Become familiar with the tools
  • Schedule a training session
  • Perform a trial run
  • Prepare a back-up plan (review Create a technology contingency plan, below)

Use the LMS to increase teaching efficiency

A streamlined process

  • All communications with students (including feedback on assignments and grades) are in one location.
  • Reduce paper use, create assignment dropboxes and online exams.
  • Add, remove, store, and delete course materials within the course space instead of in multiple locations.
  • Monitor required group interaction by requiring use of the LMS discussion tool.

Better grading

  • Electronic grade book allows the instructor to grade and the students to access those grades in a secure (FERPA-approved manner) at any time.
  • Grade book can be accessed anywhere there is an Internet connection.
  • Grade book auto-calculates both overall grade and individual assignment/exam grades.


  • Keep your course space well organized with each item located in an aptly named folder
  • Post Once: Avoid posting the same information in multiple locations.
  • Dates & Point Values: Keep deadlines and points on your course schedule or syllabus only instead of sprinkling them throughout the course space.
  • Convert to PDF: When possible, convert documents to PDFs to ensure that students with varying versions of word processing software can access your documents.
  • Post Tech Help Policies: Post the IT Help Desk’s contact information and your policy about missing assignments or exams due to “technical” issues on your syllabus.

Increase student engagement

  • Students have 24/7 access to posted resources, announcements, grades, etc.
  • Students can email from within the course space to fellow classmates.
  • Reduce classroom barriers through increased communication.
    • Schedule live office hours
    • Promote asynchronous discussion
    • Invite guest participants to join discussions
  • Utilize the assessment tool for self-assessments.
  • Absent students can check for updated content, schedules, and announcements without requesting information individually.
  • Students can view current information, such as links to websites, articles, videos and other multimedia as well as critical course information such as the syllabus, assignment instructions and course calendar.

Blackboard as an early alert warning tool

Early Warning of At-Risk Students Using Blackboard Course Reports

Create a technology contingency plan

Below are best practices for protecting yourself from technology failure with any third party tool, including an LMS:

  • Export your grades to a secondary platform after each grading session.
    • Follow steps 1-3 in this tutorial
    • Back up your course content on a regular basis (after making any changes to course content, for example); following these steps:

      • Go to Control Panel
      • Select Packages and Utilities
      • Select Export/Archive Course
      • Select Export Package
      • Go through the list to check what you want to carry over
      • Select Submit
      • An email will arrive in your inbox telling you when the action is complete
      • A file will be downloaded to your course. Return to Export Page to find it and then download it
    • Back up all course-related work (e.g., graded assignments) external to your computer – USB, cloud storage, or other external media storage.
    • Keep Global Campus tech support information external to your computer:
      Phone: 509-335-4320 or 800-222-4978
    • If you are using a non-WSU computer, be sure it is secure and that both antivirus and anti-spyware are installed: Information Security Guidelines