Getting Started

This page is intended to help guide instructors through the process of moving a face-to-face class online.

1. Email your students.

Contact them through Blackboard and Microsoft Outlook Email
The “Email” and “Announcement” modules on your class Blackboard page both allow you to directly email your students. “Announcements” automatically email the entire class, while “Email” allows you to contact individual students or the class entire. The “Email” function is under the “Course Tools” dropdown menu on the left side of your Blackboard class page. Contact them and make sure they know what’s going on. Students are not always aware, or the first recipients, of what’s going on. Make sure they are in the know. You may want to ask them to confirm an initial email with you.

Note: If you have not already been using Blackboard with your class, note that Blackboard needs to be made “visible” to students. To make sure your class is visible, click “Customization” on the lefthand size of your class Blackboard page and select “Properties.” Make sure “Yes” is selected under “Make Course Available.”

2. Plan out the remaining arc of what you want your students to do based on your learning goals.

Sketch it out: How will you update your assignments, and what will you need to change? Identify what kinds of exchanges of information you want to setup—email, video, conferencing, etc. How often do you want to check in with your students, and how? Do you want to hold synchronous (same time, same place as your usual class session time) class sessions, or have people working asynchronously? What live and/or written feedback do you want to give, and how?

3. Identify the technologies you will need.

Note: Teaching an online class successfully does not require a huge arsenal of educational technology. Some instructors can get by with just a couple. Some instructors thrive on digital platforms and use many successfully. A note from your friendly neighborhood Baruch educators: You should not feel ashamed if you do not want to use every technology you’re introduced to.

If you are not comfortable using online resources, or if it is impractical to go online because of over-usage, consider completing your classes using the following ideas:

  1. Assign your students a research paper; ask them to email you and each other drafts. Ask them to comment on at least two student papers and ask them to submit their own work to you with a cover letter. Assign as many drafts as seems beneficial.
  2. Ask students to write for 20 minutes a day on an assigned text and share those reflections with you.
  3. Ask students to keep a daily journal.

4. If you want to hold synchronous, live class sessions:

Here are two options:

  1. Zoom, a videoconferencing web software. They don’t need an account, but you do. You can make an account there (here’s the link) and create a conferencing room they can join. Use your Baruch email to make the account.
  2. Using Blackboard’s web conferencing software, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. It’s an option under “Course Tools” on your class Blackboard page. There, you can schedule a time to open up a web-conferencing meeting with your students.

If you are interested in using it, here’s an introduction to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra:

And for a series of more in-depth Blackboard Collaborate tutorials, follow this link.

Note: Another option for synchronous online meetings with your class: Google Hangouts (requires a Google email address).

5. To work with your students asynchronously, here are some options.

  1. Email with your students updates and correspondence regarding their writing. Try giving them feedback on Word or Google Doc files.
  2. Encourage your students to check in with you, and check in with them. Try to arrange one-on-one check-in times with students, either as email deadlines or as phone/web conferences.
  3. Create dates and deadlines for conferences, assignments, and any synchronous class meetings. Make sure students have instructions for joining any conference video, and the link to the video.

6. For exchanging materials with your students:

  • Email (
  • By Blackboard (
  • By shared Dropbox or Google Drive folder

7. For giving feedback:

You have several options for a digital grading system:

  • You can use Microsoft Word or Google Docs to leave comments on students’ papers. For more information about giving digital feedback, visit Assignments and Grading.
  • Try conducting peer review by email exchange of drafts.

8. Blackboard is a useful all-in-one tool.

Blackboard, as problematically monolithic as it may be, is a Swiss Army Knife of resources for moving a class online.

It contains spaces for instructors to…

  • setup a class blog or online message board,
  • respond to written assignments,
  • post videos and record video updates,
  • conference with students and hold a live class,
  • create emails and announcements,
  • post assignments and readings, and
  • receive student-submitted of papers and assignments.

6. Encourage students to communicate with each other.

Try to set up your class with smaller groups and encourage them to work with and keep in touch with each other. Consider ways they can communicate with each other to reach course goals. Perhaps there is a collaborative assignment they could do online together, or an opportunity for small-group discussion.

Have questions? Not sure what you need? Ask us.