Best Practices: Organization

Using a content management system can help tremendously in your teaching. There are strategies to designing and developing your course site and when structured well can add substantial value to the student’s learning experience. Structure your class according to how you think your students will engage with your content. Overall, top concerns a student has when they enter your course are: 1.) What s/he needs to do in order to succeed and 2.) Location of content. The following tips are considered best practices in using Blackboard or Moodle.

Ideas on Structuring Your Site

  • Create sections for your navigation menu. Use the subheading option to create categories that will make it easier for you to structure your course and for your students to navigate to the appropriate place.
  • Consider giving your students a tour of your course site on the first day of class and have a system in place to inform them of how often they should check for updates.
  • Create links to course tools that are heavily used by students such as checking grades and discussion boards.


  • Think ahead when you create your assignments.
  • Save and upload your documents as PDFs rather than Word. Students can open a PDF from their web browser saving them the extra step of downloading the document.
  • Avoid pasting content from Word documents. They contain code that causes problem in how your content looks. Instead, type directly into Blackboard or copy and paste from Notepad (PC) or Text Edit (Mac).
  • Use only alphanumeric characters, hyphens, and underscores (insead of blank spaces) when uploading file attachments.

Multimedia (Video and Audio)

  • Link media from outside sources rather than uploading them to your site. You only have 250 MB and one video can take a significant amount of space not to mention a potential copyright violation.
  • The library subscribes to many databases with streamable videos.
  • UMKC offers streaming services for your content. You can submit your video or contact them at their site. You must hold the copyright to your content in order to use this service.


  • You can create tests and anonymous surveys in your course. Use the test feature to create quick reading quizzes to check for student comprehension. Surveys are great way to ask for feedback on your teaching or in group projects.
  • Attach a goal to your assignments, tests, and other assessments. You will be able to create reports on how well your class is doing.


  • Your course will be made available to students each semester. To hide your course from your student, go to the Customization option in your Course Management and choose Properties. The option to hide your course is in the third point Set Availability.
  • Change the name of your course in the Properties to make it easier for your students to find your course.