UNIV 101 is a first year student experience course designed to prepare students for the transition to college life and study. As an instructional designer, I drafted a barebones version of the course in Blackboard with essential materials and navigation structure with the program's assistant director to be used as a course shell for the other sections. As a course instructor for one of those sections I further developed a blended experience that utilized class meetings for discussion and activities, and the online Blackboard component as a means to deliver content, collect assessments, and communicate.
I made heavy use of the adaptive release tool and temporarily hidden menu items to keep the course visually manageable for students - many whom had not worked with a learning management system in the past. For example, I set a time restriction on each Weekly Activity folder to hide it a week in advance to simply navigation to only current and near-current activities. I also set a completion restriction so that students could not take the chapter quiz before marking the chapter as reviewed. To make navigation easier, I presented the course's navigation in two ways: temporally using weekly folders and categorically as separate menu items (e.g., Quizzes, Assignments). Students started the course with a syllabus quiz with unlimited attempts and a 100% score requirement. The design of the quiz encouraged students to use the syllabus document and provided instant feedback for right/wrong answers.
My approach to delivering the course was to make it as adaptable as I could in order to better meet student needs without compromising the course objectives or the mission of the program. To this end, I created very brief reflection surveys to gather feedback on students' perceptions of value, difficulty, and time spent on activities (as well as open feedback for extended responses). I used this feedback to adjust the live directions and discussions of the course's content, and used the aggregate feedback upon completion in analyzing course items for review/revision. To keep this feedback as short as possible I used a simple + (positive) = (neutral) - (negative) measure for student expectations (e.g., "How would you rate your personal satisfaction with this weeks content and activities?).
I made ample use of Blackboard available tools to make communication easier for students including; using Blackboard Collaborate for office hours, keeping an up-to-date calendar of class meetings, due dates, and important campus events, a "Help" discussion board containing FAQs and a forum for asking questions, and scheduled announcements for timely course information and due date reminders,