Blended Learning 101

By Nuala Davis, LTDS

Here are a few practical tips on getting started.

Bling it up

Our institutional VLE Blackboard can be made to look more interesting.  It’s down to you…

  • add images to items
  • think about what you can embed – Video, Slideshare, Polls and quizzes
  • Add links to discussion boards – and if you use these make sure you have time to contribute and set the tone (be a good cocktail party host at the start).  Create an introductory post on each discussion board – it’s far too scary to be the first one who posts.


Make the journey really clear on your course and use weekly emails/announcements to reinforce what’s to be done and reflect on what’s been good.

 Use one of the new module templates based on our Blackboard baseline so that students get a consistent experience.

If you include a link to a document tell the students what you want them to do with it – read it? skim it? make notes on specific points? focus on pp 14-19?

Include some getting started material – how the course is organised,  how to get help, how to subscribe to discussion boards (so you get notified when someone posts!)….

Set expectations of how much time student should spend on sections of the material, so that they know what are the essential parts and don’t burn out on the introductory elements.


If you are going to be making any videos think about where you are going to host them.  You can then include them on Blackboard with links or embed code.  We have a few choices:

Once you have the video hosted make sure you add your captions so that these play in the embedded player.

Making videos

If you don’t want to spend money – you can make great narrated powerpoints, talking heads or screen captures without spending money…

  • Use ReCap personal capture – talk to LTDS about getting a pCap folder set up, get the software installed and have a hand to get stared
  • Use Powerpoint to record your slides (Slide Show/record slide show),  or use it to do a screen recording (insert/screen recording), then Save As mp4

If you have a longer lead time and need some professionally produced media get in touch with our crack Digital Media Services team.

Recording Audio

Have a smartphone?  Use a “sound recorder” app on your phone to record an audio track. Or you could download and use Audacity to record and edit yourself!  You can upload audio to ReCap and NUVision.   On ReCap you can add bookmarks (eg three views on one question).

Polls and Quizzes

Blackboard quizzes can look a bit scary, so if your questions are formative and you don’t need to know who answered what you can use Google Formsor Microsoft Forms to make a quiz.  Then you can embed the quiz, provide a link to it (or both), and share the results back.

Prototype and Get feedback

Ask colleagues or students to comment on your initial designs: does it work? Does it make sense? Is it clear what you are being asked to do?  Are the discussion spaces inviting?

Talk to colleagues

Shamelessly pick the brains of colleagues who have done similar projects! You will have more ideas together.

Talk to LTDS for “how-to” support on Blackboard, ReCap, ePortfolio and for tips on designing your learning materials.

Connect with NUTELA and join in their workshops and community (there is free pizza and pop).

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