Managing your unit

The following article provides tips about managing a blackboard learning site, developing content and preparing the site for delivery to students.

Teaching with Blackboard and MySCU

A Blackboard learning site provides an important central repository of information and resources for on-campus students; and for an online student, this space will be the first (and perhaps the only) place they go to engage with your unit. When you are teaching online you and your students will be relying on resources, learning experiences and interactions in the Blackboard learning site for your unit. At Southern Cross University, Blackboard is also known as MySCU. These terms are often used interchangeably because they are referring to the same learning management system.

Support available

  • For teaching support, you can contact the Centre for Teaching and Learning which offer support resources, workshops and training in the use of technology for teaching.
  • For support resources covering the development of a Blackboard learning site aligned to the Southern Cross Model, see the ICSM Practical Guide.
  • For technical issues with a Blackboard site you can contact
  • The Blackboard website also provides documentation of Blackboard learning management system features.

Check the Blackboard site

  • Go through the Blackboard site from beginning to end and make sure you understand it very well, including any learning technologies you need to use.
  • Check ALL the links to ensure they work. This includes quizzes and links to upload assessments – everything.
  • Get a colleague to check the site and ensure the navigation is simple and clear.
  • Check that the organisation of assessment information is logical. This means a separate folder for each assessment and all relevant information in that folder.
  • Use our MySCU unit site checklist to make sure you have covered everything.

Check the content

  • Check your content is up to date.
  • Be adaptive, as needed, to support students’ understanding.
  • Contextualise and highlight important content, linking concepts together – tell the story.
  • Declutter the site. If it is not immediately relevant to the topic - take it out.
  • Anything extra (nice but not immediately relevant) can be put in a folder called 'Useful extra resources'. Keep the focus of the site sharp.
  • Avoid cognitive overload. Keep your lectures and presentations short. 
  • Content needs to be chunked into digestible pieces and, ideally, varied to sustain engagement.
  • Provide opportunities for students to actively engage with the content and each other.

Establish teacher presence

  • Communicate to students how responsive you will be to emails, and what times you will be available to answer their questions.
  • Check the discussion board daily, or more as needed. Monitor and respond to the conversations, but allow others time to contribute.
  • Consider having an open office in Zoom or Collaborate where students can drop in at an agreed time.
  • Seek feedback on student learning to check their understanding. Be approachable and responsive.
  • Post announcements at least once a week, drawing student attention to important and timely aspects of the unit.

MySCU unit site checklist

This checklist is a tool to assist in the development of quality MySCU learning sites. Site menu items are based on the SCU unit template, the default template for all MySCU learning sites.

Site menu Item

What you need to know

What to check and do

Unit introduction

Key aim: Provide timely and introductory information to students.

AccessibilityEnsure that all students and staff can participate in your MySCU site.
  • Use plain English.
  • Use a font that's easy to read on screens, such as Arial. (Note: the module styler template includes suitable font and colour choices).
  • Write unique page titles.
  • Use headings to structure your content.
  • Use descriptive text for links.
  • Always add text alternatives (alt-text) to images (right-click on images to add alt-text in the content editor).
  • Use tables only for tabular data, avoid using them for layout.
  • See Designing for Accessibility for more information.


  • Contains welcome, introductions and important announcements.
  • The default landing page students see when accessing the unit site.
  • Check all announcements from previous sessions have been removed.
  • Write your welcome message with a link to the Getting Started area (use our template on how to write a welcome message).

Getting started

  • Include a unit tour, audio overview, unit expectations, and unit schedule.
  • Create a unit site tour video (3 to 5 minutes maximum) to explain where to find key unit components and how to engage within the site (use our how to create and write a welcome video template).
  • Check the software list. Add the software required for the unit.


  • A brief biography from the unit assessor.
  • Teacher role, contact details and photo.
  • Contact methods and support provided.
  • Hide any contacts not involved in the current unit.
  • Update all current tutor details.
  • Provide contact times, anticipated response times and office hours.

Study resources

Key aim: To provide learning materials and study resources for students.

Unit outline (UO)

  • The UO provides information about the structure, delivery and assessment of a unit and is based on data stored in the Unit and Course Management System (UCMS).
  • Check the Unit Outline is present (Please note that this will be published one week before the term starts).
  • Verify the data is correct (see your Faculty/School/College UCMS administrator urgently where changes are required).

Unit content

  • The learning resources (activities, videos, worksheets, interactives, content, links etc.).
  • Under the Southern Cross model, unit content must be organised into module folders for each week using a Blackboard styling template.
  • See the ICSM Practical guide for guidance about writing and building module content
  • Check and update content.
  • Organise content into weekly module folders (avoid specific folders, such as a folder for slides).
  • Check all hyperlinks work.
  • Click the Student View button and test content is displaying correctly for students.
  • Check that content is accessible (see Accessibility above)


  • Unit reading list by module topic/week, managed by the SCU Library.
  • Make a new readings list. Remove any outdated sources.
  • Register myReadings (note Library deadline).
  • Check readings have been made available.


Key aim: To facilitate student engagement, communication and discussion.

Discussion board

  • General discussion forum available in all sites.
  • Add any discussion board threads (introduce yourself, assessment 1 etc.).

Collaborate Ultra

  • Virtual classroom for online teaching.
  • Collaborate sessions and live session recordings can be made available to students.
  • Schedule Collaborate Ultra sessions required for the unit.
  • If you are not using Collaborate hide the link from students.
Zoom Class (manually added)
  • An alternative virtual classroom for online teaching.

Create/Join a study group

  • Spaces equipped with tools to assist student collaborations.
  • To view groups as a student, add Demo User student to a group and view in Student View.
  • Check study groups are available to students.
  • Review group settings and features.


Key aim: To provide all information, feedback and grades on unit assessment.

Assessment tasks and submission

  • Include all assessment information: Instructions, exemplars, templates, rubrics for grading, and resources for completing the assessments. Include Turnitin submission boxes as required.
  • An assessment schedule is automatically loaded to this section from UCMS data.
  • Check assessment schedule is correct (see your Faculty/School/College nominated UCMS administrator urgently if changes are required).
  • Check there is a folder for each assessment task that contains instructions, exemplars, templates, and other relevant resources.
  • Provide instructions on where and how to submit tasks.
  • Create rubrics as required.
  • Create links for Turnitin assignments
  • Provide due dates for all assessments. A Week-to-Date tool is provided below to assist in choosing an appropriate day for submission.

Grades and feedback

  • Students can access their individual grades for summative assessment tasks.
  • Check student results are displayed as an SCU letter grade in the Grade Centre.
  • Set up Grade Centre and ensure that running totals are calculated correctly.

School/College guidelines

  • Provide specific guidelines on referencing styles and assignment formatting and submission.
  • Verify with your Faculty/School/College what guidelines are to be included (see your course coordinator for clarification).

Academic integrity

  • A self-access module to help students learn how to practise academic integrity.
  • This is a template item unhidden by default to assist student learning and access to support.
  • Please do not modify or remove this element as it is mandatory for students to complete.

Assessment policy and procedures

  • FAQs for students, links to assessment policy.
  • Mandatory item for all units.
  • This is a template item unhidden by default to assist student learning and access to support.

Learning help

Key aim: To provide links and information to support students.

Learning support

  • Student support and resources to improve academic skills.
  • This is a template item unhidden by default to assist student learning and access to support.


  • Links to the Library resources.
  • This is a template item unhidden by default that provides access to library resources.

Blackboard tools

  • Links to MySCU tools including blogs, portfolios, journals, discussions boards.
  • Hide links to any tools that will not be used in the delivery of your unit. Note: Do not hide My Grades from students.

Other help

  • Links to other support, including MySCU technical help and student support services.
  • This is a template item unhidden by default to assist students access support.

(Please note - it's better to refer to the Online version rather than export, as it's always up to date)