Managing a Course Online

Information Technology Services (ITS) provides a range of resources to help Carolina’s faculty successfully create and manage courses online. Click a link above for more information.

Resources for Students

Provide online readings

When posting reading assignments online, realize that many students print these documents, and printing long or graphics-heavy documents takes time and paper. In addition, undergraduate students now have a semester printing allotment of 500 free pages. After that, they are charged 5 cents per page, so printing out all readings for a course can be expensive. Keep in mind that online readings are not a replacement for course packs.

Consider using the highlighting tool to emphasize key points in an online reading so students can identify and print only the most important portions of the document. The UNC-Chapel Hill libraries can work with you to explore efficient and legal ways to make online versions of articles available to your students.

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Post study questions online

Posting questions creates an online repository of questions, and questions sent to students via email can serve as reminders of assignments.

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Post questions and answers (Q&As)

Non-graded Q&As on the Web provide immediate feedback and allow students to review at their own pace.

For Q&As designed purely for independent student review, you can create:

  • A simple set of Web pages with questions and answers
  • Web pages (within or outside Blackboard) that include questions and links to pop-up hints or answers

For Q&As designed for student review AND to help you monitor students’ understanding of the material, you can use the Blackboard Test Manger.

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Provide sequenced self-study materials

Blackboard learning units provide a way to linearly sequence content within the site and prevent students from skipping ahead. Quizzes can be linked to learning units.

Alternatively, you can create a simple set of Web pages that recommend a navigation path through the materials.

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Offer key resource links

Even if you do not have experience with Web editing or html, the Blackboard external links area can help you easily create an online resource list.

Alternatively, you can use a Web editor to generate this list, which allows you to make it publicly available (if published outside of Blackboard).

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Student Activities

Locate and evaluate resources

The UNC libraries provide excellent services for teaching students how to effectively search for online materials and evaluate the effectiveness of these materials. In addition, each library has an online tutorial on these topics. These tutorials can be customized and assigned to students in your course.

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Publish materials on the Web

Via a published Web page, students can present their work to an audience outside the class. Before asking students to take on this task, consider the following questions:

  • Why should their work be available publicly on the Web?
  • Can the goals of the assignment be met with an alternative format?
  • Do you have an effective alternative for students with privacy concerns?

The best location for students to publish their work is on their personal space at www.unc.edu.

To preserve class time, consider assigning a self-guided tutorial or training session before the project begins.

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Create PowerPoint presentations

It is common for students to create PowerPoint slides containing impressive graphics but no real content, or text-heavy slides that are hard to follow. The resources below can help students create more effective PowerPoint presentations.

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Submit assignments online

There are several ways that students can submit assignments online:

  • Email is the simplest method, but your inbox can quickly become flooded. To avoid this problem, you can create filters in your email client to sort incoming student mail into a specific folder.
  • The Blackboard dropbox keeps paper submissions separate from other messages but is not recommended for a large class. An alternative is to have students submit files to the dropbox. Then you can return them via email. This practice keeps their files in one location for you to download, but your responses won’t add to the clutter of the dropbox.
  • Adding an assignment to a content area will create a secure location for students to submit their work.
  • The File Exchange area allows members of a group to share documents and other files. Note that any member of the group can rename any file.

When students submit their assignments electronically, you can add inline comments via a review tool (like the one in Microsoft Word). With soft copy documents, it is also easy for you to excerpt segments to use in class as examples.

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Conduct an online class discussion

Online, asynchronous discussions provide a way to discuss, analyze, and write about material outside of the classroom. And because forum posts and replies are structured by topic, they allow participants to easily follow a given line of discussion.

One way to conduct online discussion is via a listserv, which allows students to communicate to a specified group of people via email. See the quick links below to learn about other options.

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Collaborate online

UNC currently does not support an instant messaging (IM) tool, but your students are likely using one informally.

An alternative to IM is the supported chat program on campus, the Blackboard Virtual Classroom. Note that in Blackboard, students must log in with their Onyen and password.

In addition, Teams LX, the UNC-CH chosen wiki tool for Blackboard, enables instructors and students to easily create dynamic Web sites within Blackboard. Instructors can allow students to add comments or to edit each others’ work, making Teams LX a perfect tool for collaborative projects.

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Participate in group projects

For group assignments, the Blackboard private group areas provide tools that allow students to:

  • Exchange drafts of material and comments.
  • Store an easily accessible record of this material.
  • Use a virtual chat area for brainstorming and project planning.

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  • Blackboard discussion boards let students share drafts online.
  • Blackboard File Exchange also let students share drafts online. (Note that the group file exchange currently has a bug that allows members of the group to remove others’ papers.)
  • Blackboard Virtual Classroom, the UNC-supported chat program, enables teams to easily communicate.
  • Microsoft Word comment and editing tool makes it easy to edit or add inline comments to a group member’s document.
  • Teams LX, the UNC-CH chosen wiki tool for Blackboard, allows instructors and students to easily create dynamic Web sites within Blackboard. Instructors can allow students to add comments or to edit each others’ work, making Teams LX a perfect tool for collaborative projects.

Course Management Tasks

Download course rolls

You can access course rolls via the Web and download them into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Course rolls can include student photos (for instructors’ use only) and a tool for emailing announcements to all students in a class.

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Post a course URL, syllabus, and schedule

For students enrolled in your course, you can post a course Web address, description, and syllabus, and schedule. Once posted, these materials are accessible from any computer with an Internet connection.

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Password protect online course materials

By default, ITS Course Web Space pages are accessible to anyone with a Web browser. Secure the information on your site by assigning it a general username and password.

Blackboard sites, on the other hand, are by default restricted to the instructor(s) and students enrolled in the class. As an instructor you can enable guest access to your site if needed.

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Make an electronic class announcement

When setting up a contact list for your course, you can specify that it be used for announcements only, not for exchanges among members of the list. In this case, any replies to announcements will either go to you not be accepted at all.

Instructors and students can send messages to each other with the Blackboard Send E-mail tool or the email tool from a Faculty/Staff Center course roster. Unlike a typical email program, these tools simply send messages; they cannot be used to read messages. Also, recipients of these messages cannot use their e-mail software’s reply to all command to send a response to other recipients.

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Post notes or outlines online

You can post documents created with a word processing program (like Microsoft Word) or a Web authoring tool (like Dreamweaver).

ITS offers two types of Web space for posting electronic documents for a course:

  • UNC-Chapel Hill ITS Course Web Space, which is best suited to public course sites or those with a high degree of customized graphics
  • Blackboard, which has an easy-to-use template format and is most useful for password-protected sites

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Post a PowerPoint presentation

If used effectively, PowerPoint can provide both you and your students with a powerful visual guide for a lecture. If you are concerned that students will skip class because they have your PowerPoint slides, consider posting the slides after class or posting only selected slides rather than the entire presentation.

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Post digital images to the Web:

You can enhance your lecture with digital images that are embedded in a PowerPoint presentation or posted on the Web. Posting images to the Web allows students to access them outside of class. Keep in mind, though, that students with slow Internet connections might find it difficult to download and view large files such as high-resolution images.

Follow these guidelines for posting images to the Web:

  • In Blackboard, you can post image files by simply browsing and attaching files. You can also create links to images on the Web or a UNC server.
  • In ITS Course Web Space, post an image file to your Web space and link to that file from your page.

Note: If you are scanning or posting items that are not your own, see UNC-Chapel Hill’s copyright policies to ensure compliance with copyright law. Specific cases and questions can be addressed to University Counsel.

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Calculate grades

Deliver grades online

The Blackboard online gradebook allows you to input grades and permits students to view their own grades.

Note that grades that are not associated with a quiz created in Blackboard must be entered manually, and Excel spreadsheet data can be imported only one column at a time.

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