In-person to online: A few practical tips for the transfer of course content

Re-posting published post on AOI Distance Delivery Blog on 3.9.20

This post reflects my personal tips specifically for instructors at Washington State University who may need to transition existing in-person course content to the WSU-supported online learning management tool Blackboard Learn

As Director of Murrow Online Programs, I am on the leadership team responsible for onboarding instructors new to teaching in the online space. Washington State University Global Campus and Academic Outreach and Innovation (AOI) have a lot of practical tips, tools, techniques, and training materials available for instructors to use as they make this transition (see end of the article for links).

But at this is a time crunch moment for many, resources are great – but really you just need someone to say “this is how you do it.” Here we go…

A) Preparation

  1. Take stock of your existing course materials: syllabus, course schedule, lecture slides, handouts, assignment write-ups, rubrics, source material and create a series of folders for yourself that logically catalog these items.
  2. At this point in the semester – focus only on the material you have not yet covered or assigned and only backtrack if the content is valuable or critical to student success.
  3. Complete this readiness assessment AOI prepared, then consider utilizing these resources to fill in any gaps
  4. If you have not done so already – get set up on Blackboard. View the WSU Toolkit for Extended Campus Closure for instructions and resources.
  5. If you have not done so already, get oriented, set-up and trained on Panopto for video and audio capture that can be integrated into your Blackboard course space. Training sessions are scheduled for 8:00 a.m., noon, and 4:00 p.m. daily in Spark 102 and through Zoom. If you have questions please email
    1. At a minimum, you need a headset with a microphone (inexpensive earbuds like these work fine).
    2. If you want to record video – an integrated webcam or inexpensive external webcam like this works well.

B) Start your course build in Blackboard

Example left column structure in Blackboard

Sample Blackboard left column
  1. Take a look at your course schedule for the remainder of the semester. If you do not already have established Units, Blocks, Bolts, or Lessons – break up your topics into logical, digestible chunks. Units can be 1-3 weeks long.
  2. Create a repeatable rhythm for content so students know what to expect each unit. For example, each week students should expect to:
    1. Read and contribute to a discussion forum
    2. Turn in a graded assignment
    3. Take a quiz
    4. Make progress on a semester-long task
  3. Follow AOI guidance and Blackboard training resources to set up….
    • Weekly announcements
    • Syllabus page that includes instructor name, office hours, and contact info
    • Course schedule page
    • Class Discussions with prompts (with our without points)
    • Learning modules or folders for each of your lessons
    • Assignment dropboxes with rubrics
    • Quizzes
    • Groups (if applicable)
    • Panopto integration for video and/or audio lectures

C) A few quick tips:

  • Set up discussion prompts to keep students engaged. Consider using questions you would normally introduce in class or create simple prompts based on active reading assignments. Attach participation points for original contribution and peer interaction. Also, be sure to create a “Questions for the instructor” forum as a central clearinghouse for general student interest questions.
  • Create modules or folders for each of your lessons. Within each learning module you can house (for example):
    • To-do list for the unit
    • Recorded lectures (audio and/or video) or lecture slides
    • Resource links or attachments
    • Links or reference to discussion forum prompts
    • Assignment dropboxes that include:
      • Assignment overview, tasks and instructions, examples, and grading criteria
      • Rubrics built in Blackboard
    • Links to quizzes (built in Blackboard “Tests”)
  • Set up weekly announcements. I recommend the creation of a repeatable model here as well so you can build and schedule announcements in advance. Example: Welcome to Week 10 in COMSTRAT 383. This week I am catching up on grading from Lesson 3. Here are your to do’s for this week…. Please remember to turn in your microproject and podcast audio file to the designated dropbox in Blackboard.
  • Subscribe to the “Questions for the instructor” discussion forum so you get notifications
  • Set time aside each week for grading and class prep so you don’t fall behind

WSU Global Campus and AOI Resources:

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