Getting Started Section in Online Courses

April 29th, 2014 by Rob Coyle

A ‘Getting Started’ section provides students with all the information they need to get started in the course site. Typically set up as a Content Area in Blackboard, this section or folder, provides students with a one-stop-shop for all the critical course information and tells them where to begin the course. Students should be directed to the Getting Started section from the Welcome Message and it should be available throughout the entire semester. The Getting Started Section should also be placed near the top of the Blackboard Course Menu so students can readily see it when they enter the course site.

Other Common Names for Getting Started include: Course Overview, Course Introduction, Course Orientation, Start Here, and Read Me First. Regardless of what you titled it, the Getting Started section should include the following information (or provide links to these):

  • General Overview of the purpose of the course and what materials will be covered
  • Course Syllabus
  • Course Schedule/Calendar
  • Faculty Self-Introduction
  • Distinction between face-to-face and online portions of the course (when applicable)
  • How to get help (see
  • Netiquette (What types of interaction are acceptable in this course)
  • Enrollment Verification instructions (and ideally a link to the activity)
  • First Activities (how and where to begin the materials for this course)

For additional ideas or help generating a Getting Started section, contact Online Learning.