Blackboard Learn is an application for online teaching, learning, community building, and knowledge sharing.

You can use any theory or model for teaching your online course because Blackboard Learn is open, flexible, and centered on student achievement.

At Blackboard, we nurture learners and support those who make education possible, from K-12 and higher education to adult learning and workplace training.

As you get started with Blackboard Learn, you'll find that teaching online shares many similarities with teaching in the face-to-face (f2f) classroom.

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Online teaching and learning

Online learning can take place in a synchronous or asynchronous environment. In a synchronous environment, students and instructors have instantaneous or "real-time" interaction. Course members need to meet at a set time which can be seen as a negative. However, a set time can help students stay on track and manage their time. An example of a synchronous tool is Blackboard Collaborate. In Collaborate, your class can meet for a lecture. You can hold office hours and study sessions, have impromptu discussions, and host guest speakers.

More on Collaborate

In an asynchronous environment, interactions occur over extended periods of time, such as with discussions. Students can take the time to produce more reflective communication.

Let students know how often you check communication tools, how often they'll hear from you, and when you're available to address questions and concerns.

Familiar tasks

Your experience and knowledge as a classroom instructor are invaluable when you teach online. You can use many of the tools in Blackboard Learn to accomplish the tasks you're familiar with in the f2f setting.

  • In the first few minutes of a f2f classroom, you might take a few minutes to remind students of upcoming events. In Blackboard Learn, you can post messages to accomplish this same task.
  • In your f2f classroom, you ask questions to check your students' understanding of the material. In Blackboard Learn, you can ask questions in discussions, hold a Collaborate session, or ask them to take a ungraded quiz.
  • Expectations must be clear for learners. Make dues dates, grading guidelines, and instructions easy to find.
  • Show students you care. Students want meaningful, personal exchanges.

Types of online courses

When we think about online learning, we often think of a fully online course where all content, the activities, and communication happen entirely online.

However, Blackboard Learn is often used to supplement traditional face-to-face courses. In fact, if you're new to online learning, you can supplement your classroom course with an online syllabus, discussions, and online activities. As you become more comfortable, you can gradually transform your course into a hybrid or fully online course.

Let's take a look at three types of courses.

Fully online

  • Participants don't meet face-to-face in the classroom but interact entirely online.
  • You deliver course materials in the online format.
  • You communicate and interact with students with online tools.
  • Students interact, communicate, and collaborate online.
  • You assess student work online.

Hybrid or blended

  • Participants still meet for scheduled class or lab time, but the amount of time is reduced. For example, you teach a course that normally has three classes per week. If you add some online aspects, you might require only two classes each week.
  • You design face-to-face and online activities that reinforce, complement, and support the other.
  • You can combine the best features of classroom-based and online courses. Students benefit from meeting their instructor on a regular basis, and still enjoy the flexibility of online learning.


  • Participants meet in the classroom for the scheduled hours of the course, but you add some instructional activities online.
  • Supplementary materials, such as a course syllabus, homework assignments, and optional discussions are delivered online. These components are intended to supplement, not replace, face-to-face course work.

Mobile apps

Blackboard: Students receive mobile updates about your courses, take assignments and tests, participate in discussions, launch Collaborate sessions, and view grades.

Blackboard Instructor: Blackboard Instructor is a mobile app that enables instructors to view course content, grade assignments, connect with students in discussions, and launch Collaborate sessions.

Ready to start?

Even if you're new to online instruction, you can create a basic course in a short amount of time. You can start with a week or two of materials and add more later.

We've compiled some tips and basic steps for the novice Blackboard Learn instructors who want to learn how to create content in an online course. We want to help you with the high-level principles and processes involved when you build a course from the ground up.

More on the basic steps