We encourage maximizing asynchronous communication for almost everything.  There are many great ways to use Blackboard Collaborate (or Zoom) for limited real-time communication.  Here are some standard best practices (tried and true from more than 20 years of online teaching) to get you started and hopefully help you manage your and your students’ stress! 

General best practices modified for this situation: 

  • Use announcements in BB to send a message to the entire class.  I suggest one per day with reminders and encouragement. Be sure to select the email option so each student will get an email with the announcement that will prompt them to access the course. 
  • Email your students from within Bb because they are already enrolled and you won’t miss anyone. 
  • To save yourself from feeling like you are chained to your laptop and answering a million emails, create a “Questions” discussion forum and encourage students to post and read/respond in that forum.  Tell them not to email you unless it is personal nature, but all course questions are to be posted in the forum.  Encourage them to answer other students’ questions to get the peer to peer collaboration going.  If the answer is wrong or not quite right, you can post an encouraging and tactful correction.  Check this Questions forum multiple times during the day. 
  • Also, set specific ‘office hours’.  If possible schedule these at the same time each day.  Post the days & times in an announcement. Use Blackboard Collaborate or Zoom for these real-time, synchronous sessions.
  • Use Blackboard Collaborate to hold real-time, one-on-one tutorial sessions with any student who aren’t able to ‘attend’ office hours.  Keep these short – 15 minutes max.  If you choose to use Zoom, be sure to post the link in your Bb course in the announcements or Questions discussion forum.