Forsyth Technical Community College | Robert L. Strickland Center
336.757.3716
ctl@forsythtech.edu

Semester Startup Procedures

The mission of the CTL is to catalyze teaching excellence through Community, Partnership, and Educational Innovation.

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Introduction and Purpose

There are many things we all have to do to get ready for the new semester. The start-up procedures for the fall semester are provided as a guide to ensure that instructors and students have a good experience in getting the semester started in a positive manner that encourages student and instructor participation and engagement in each course.

Procedures

Blackboard Course Shells

The CTL defines course shells as individual Blackboard courses. Each course listed under the My Course module on the Blackboard Welcome screen is a shell. Course shells are created when course builders (within their respective divisions) create a course in Colleague. Once this occurs, the same course will appear in Blackboard only if automation process is enabled for the designated semester. Generally, the automation process for an upcoming semesters is enabled when registration for that semester being. For example, if registration for the spring semester begins in October, the automation process for spring is enabled in October. Once the automation process is enabled, enrollment for the course is also enabled, meaning students will begin populating the course shell during this time. This period of time also allows faculty to initiate the course copy process since their new courses are available.

Course Copy

Course content is available to students on their course start date. This is true for all delivery methods: traditional, blended, hybrid, synchronous online and asynchronous online. To ensure your course is ready to go, please use the following list as a guide to catch potential errors.

Make sure that the:

  1. Course has correct content
  2. Course Menu does not have duplicated items or items that do not pertain to students
  3. Old content has been removed from the course
    1. Old syllabi
    2. Old Textbook information
    3. Broken or irrelevant web links
    4. Directions,
    5. Assignment due dates,
    6. Word documents,
    7. PowerPoint presentations,
    8. Excel spreadsheets
    9. Tests
    10. Images
  4. Course Entry Point is set correctly
  5. Forsyth Technical Policies and Procedures is located directly below the Course Specific Syllabus

Requirements and Best Practices

Traditional Courses

All traditional courses will be made available on their course start date. Course availability is set as the course start date, not the first class meeting. Please follow these list of best practices and requirements. For additional information about the requirements for Blackboard Courses in traditional classes, such as video tutorials on how to accomplish each required task, refer to these guidelines.

  1. Requirement. All Blackboard courses should be set-up and ready for students to enter courses on their course start date.
  2. Requirement. All of the required components are in the Blackboard shells and ready for students.
    1. Positive Welcome Message
    2. Fall syllabus with all components completed is uploaded into the appropriate Blackboard course.
    3. Third Party Vendor information is included in the syllabus, including Technical Support information
    4. The Forsyth Tech Universal Policies and Procedures item it directly under the Syllabus item.
    5. Instructor Contact Information has been completed using the Contacts too in Blackboard (preferably with a picture included).
    6. One assignment has been created that will create a grade column in the Grade Center and the assignment date is by the course census date.
      1. Must be set up as a graded assignment and submitted in order to get the date/time stamp of submission.
    7. Grade Center: Weighted Grades
      1. Categories are created
      2. Category weights are assigned and align with syllabus
      3. External Grade has been set to the correct column
    8. Grade Center: Total Points
      1. Assignment columns have been created with point value assigned.
      2. External Grade has been set to the correct column

Online and Hybrid Courses

All online classes begin on their course start date. Courses are made available to students on their course start date. Course content is ready for student to enter the classroom (See Course Copy information above). Please follow these list of best practices and requirements. It is highly recommended that you consider each item as if they are required.

  1. It is best practice and lessens student anxiety if instructors are visible in the online classroom the first day of class.
  2. Instructor Contact Information is updated (preferably with a picture included)
  3. A positive Welcome Message is posted (video recommended)
  4. Course Syllabus
    1. All information is completed
    2. Contact information is complete
    3. Textbook information, including ISBN and image of the book
    4. Third Party Vendor information is included in the syllabus, including Technical Support information
    5. Expected Course Schedule is complete
    6. Virtual Student Hours are listed either by appointment or open Collaborate hours (recommended)
  5. Course Entry Assignment: Must be submitted in Blackboard to be time/date stamped of the submission
    1. Assignment has been created and the due date is set for “End of Day” the day of the Census Period.
      • Graded Discussion
      • Assignment/Safe Assign
      • Tests
      • Journal
    2. Points have been assigned in order to create a graded column in the Grade Center
  6. Grade Center: Weighted Grades
    1. Categories are created
    2. Category weights are assigned and align with syllabus
    3. External Grade has been set to the correct column
  7. Grade Center: Total Points
    1. Assignment columns have been created with point value assigned.
    2. External Grade has been set to the correct column

First Week

  1. Connect with students in a collaborative manner to build instructor/student relationships
  2. Make contact with students who have not participated in the course
  3. Respond to student emails
  4. Clear up muddy points
  5. Help students get technical issues resolved
  6. Grade Course Entry Assignment for assignments that are not automatically graded by Blackboard.

Census Report

Instructors use the Single Course User Participation report to document student enrollment dates in Web Attendance. Participation is defined in this context as a Blackboard assignment that is able to show a submission status via Blackboard. The Program Chairs will communicate the due date for the Census Report.

Course availability is now a system-automated process and cannot be manipulated.