Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Universal Design in Blackboard Courses

This past year, faculty members involved with the Masters of Public Health (MPH) in the School of Medicine and the RN-to-BSN program in the School of Nursing met with TLT to create a plan to standardize online course offerings. This initiative began as an attempt to meet Quality Matters standards for course navigation, as well as to respond to student input from end-of-semester surveys indicating a need for organized course structures. 

This fall, a standard navigation panel was piloted in both the MPH and RN-BSN programs. All courses – including online, face-to-face, and hybrid – in these programs will have similar navigational structures (see image).

Screenshot of Blackboard navigation panel using new design

The START HERE section includes the syllabus, information about the instructor(s), and any other information about the course as a whole. All content for the course will be found in the Content section.

One major complaint from students was inconsistency of how course materials were organized in courses within a program. While some instructors organized their content into folders such as Lectures, Readings, and Assignments, other instructors grouped materials by unit or by each class session. In the RN-BSN program, course materials will be organized by Section and then modules while the MPH program will be organized by having weekly folders within the Content section. This way, students will know where to find all of the resources for a particular class session.

Links are also provided directly to the Course Reserves, Adobe Connect room, Discussions, and Groups tools, if the instructor chooses to use any of those resources. Additional links to Blackboard resources are also provided, as well as links to KUMC services for students.

The MPH program has also incorporated e-Portfolios into their program. As students complete assignments and projects that demonstrate mastery of requires skills, those items are added to their Blackboard Portfolios. They can share these portfolios with their instructors and advisors.

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