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Review Key Principles

Before you start working on the design of your module, it is worth reviewing some of the ‘Overarching Principles’ to inform your design and some good practices for ‘Presenting Information in Blackboard (Bb)’. As part of UCD Teaching and Learning's Blended Learning Initiative, a set of principles were developed to guide the project. These principles, based on the literature in blended learning, are also applicable for designing learning for the on-line environment.

What are the Key Principles?

In the design of the learning environment, it is recommended that you should:

  • Consider the needs of your student group and the context of their learning, e.g. students’ level, previous experience
  • Consider the key learning tasks for your students and based on these write your learning outcomes       
  • Align your module’s learning outcomes, assessment approaches and teaching and learning activities
  • Emphasize active student learning, in particular students’ peer learning, self-monitoring and autonomous learning  
  • Develop an efficiency with staff and students’ time over the blended  learning experience

What are the Principles for Presenting Information in Blackboard (Bb)?

  • Make sure that you present students with a coherent and efficient sequence of your face-to-face, out-of-class and on-line module activities and learning materials/resources so that they can see what you have made available for them to help them complete your module
  • To help reduce information overload, create a thematic structure to the module by grouping the learning materials by either topic, concept, activity and/or time-scale, i.e. Topic A weeks 1-3; Topic B weeks 4-6.
  • Within these groupings, try and position all of the related learning materials close to each other in Bb.
  • Where appropriate, consider opportunities for students to collaborate and monitor their progress within Bb, e.g. group discussion, low-stakes MCQs
  • Write a simple explanation in Bb for your students, setting out your expectations of what they have to do in the module, why they are doing it and how it links with their learning and assessment.
  • When setting activities/tasks for student to complete, set out the expected amount of time students should spend on this task, i.e. time-on-task.
  • Ensure that your learning materials are readily accessible to all students, see Accessible Blackboard for more information.


For more on UCD's recommendations for customising your Blackboard module, see Customise Blackboard.

Printable Resources
  • Biggs, J., Tang, C (2011) Teaching for Quality Learning: What the student does (4th Ed) . SRHE: Berkshire.
  • Fink, L. D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Meyers, N.E, McNulty, D.D. (2009). How to use (five) curriculum design principles to align authentic learning environments, assessment, students’ approaches to thinking and learning outcomes. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 34 (5), 565-577.
  • Littlejohn, A., Pegler, C. (2007) Documenting e-learning blends, In, Preparing for Blended E-Learning. 70-93. New York: Routledge.
  • Collis B., Moonen J. (2001), Flexible Learning in a Digital World, Kogan Page, London.
  • Mayer, R.E, Moreno, R (2003). Nine Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43–52.
  • Sharma, P, Hannafin, M.J. (2007) Scaffolding in Technology-Enhanced Learning Environments Interactive Learning Environments, 15, 1, 27 – 46
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