Skip to content

Teaching Theology online at Concordia Saint Paul

The Department of Theology and Ministry requires that all potential online instructors demonstrate a basic competency in teaching online prior to being contracted to teach a first class for the Department. The process introduces instructors to the Basics of Blackboard Ultra, provides video training for the basic tasks of an instructor, identifies the level of LMS expertise in order to provides tips toward mastery, and explores competencies for online teaching success.

Please, complete each of the steps below as your demonstration of competency.

  1. The Basics of Blackboard Ultra
    For teaching theology online at Concordia Saint Paul, we use the Learning Management System (LMS) from This portion of the training introduces you to the platform. Even if you have a familiarity with Blackboard, you can learn more about it here.


    1. Actions:
      1. Begin by watching this basic orientation to Blackboard Learn (2:51).
      2. Create an account in Blackboard CourseSites. This free site will allow you to explore Blackboard. The second panel on the main page provides Instructor Getting Started Resources. Please, work through the “Overview of the new CourseSites” and then complete the “15 things to try in CourseSites.” CourseSites uses Blackboard Ultra. CSP is still using Blackboard Learn 9.1, but we will soon be moving to Ultra. While the look of the two is somewhat different, the operations are quite similar.
      3. In the “Courses” link, explore the Course “Fundamentals of Artificial Intelligence.”
    2. Report: When you complete these actions, submit a Report on “the Basics” using this link.
  2. Necessary skills in Blackboard (video series)
    The online theology courses at Concordia Saint Paul are pre-built for you. You will function as a course administrator, coach, and grader. To do that task well, there are certain operations in Blackboard with which you must be comfortable. Each of these training videos covers one of those tasks. HINT: save a link to this page for your first couple of times teaching.


    1. Actions:
      1. Although the course is pre-built, you may wish to make minor edits to the course home page. This video shows you how to edit the page (2:18). The principles apply to other pages aw well.
      2. When setting up a class or making adjustments to a class, it is helpful to know how to control the availability of a class. This video shows you how to make a course available to your students (1:15).
      3. Discussions forums are often at the heart of online learning. Watch how to create discussion board forums (4:34).
      4. Keeping in touch with students is important.  Blackboard uses email and announcements. Learn about how to send email in Blackboard (1:37) and how to create announcements (2:39).
      5. You may wish to make minor adjustments to your course by adding content (2:22), adding a tool (3:05), or turning tools on and off (2:04).
      6. When grading, two tools will help you in Blackboard. All non-objective assignments are graded with a rubric (3:24). SafeAssign helps in the fight against plagiarism (4:46). In the Grade Center, you can see attempts and assign grades (1:29).
    2. Report: When you complete these actions, submit a Report on “necessary skills” using this link.
  3. Assessment of LMS expertise
    1. Action: Take this short survey called the Educator Field Guide to identify your level of Blackboard expertise. You will then receive email tips, tricks, and best practices to help you master the features and tools.
    2. Report: When you complete this action, submit a Report on “LMS Expertise” using this link.
  4. Competencies for online teaching success
    1. Action:
      1. Read this article identifying competencies for Online Teaching Success.
      2. Compare with this article Teaching Competencies for the Online Environment.
      3. Blackboard has a list of best practices to Help Students Succeed.
    2. Report: When you complete these actions, submit a Report on “Competencies for Online Teaching Success” using this link.

When you have completed the above four steps, please, send an email message to Dr. Mark Schuler ( so indicating.

  1. Extras
    1. Watch Tips for Teaching Online with Blackboard (59:02) from NIU.
    2. Literature review of research into Online Instructor and Teaching Competencies.
    3. You can play with a copy of a CSP Theology course. Follow these steps:
      1. Download this export file of RLG415.
      2. Go to your CourseSites account. Select courses on the left menu. Then enter one of the Original Courses.
      3. On the Course Management Menu, select Packages and Utilities. Then Select Import Package/Review Logs. Click Import Package on the page.
      4. Under Select a Package, browse your computer for the downloaded .zip file. and select it. Scroll further down to Select Course Materials and choose Select All.  Then Click Submit.
      5. After a few minutes, the course will be loaded into your CourseSite. Delete all menu items above Course Home.
      6. Now you can play with a course like the one you may teach at CSP.