Blackboard proves beneficial


    By Mary Crozier

    If students don”t continually check their class scores on Blackboard, they can receive incorrect grades.

    This is what BYU student Tiffany Robins learned one day when she checked her grades on Blackboard.

    While taking a chemistry course, Robins discovered through Blackboard that she had never received credit for a homework assignment.

    When she told her teacher she had done the assignment but never received credit, the teacher was able to change Robins” grade.

    One student, however, said the grade book on Blackboard is not always accurate.

    “I like that it has student and class averages, but it doesn”t really tell you your grade because sometimes teachers use bell curves,” said Jill Goodlife, a senior, from Rexburg, Idaho, majoring in neuroscience.

    “I think it”s good if the teacher uses the grade book, but most of the time teachers don”t keep it up to date,” Goodlife said.

    Many classes are posted on Blackboard for students to check grades, give or receive emails or take quizzes.

    Blackboard has other functions including virtual folders where teachers can publish material ahead of time so students can prepare and focus on the lecture instead of on taking copious notes.

    Tania Cantrell, a BYU communications professor, uses Blackboard extensively as a teaching method.

    “Blackboard is an excellent tool to keep instructors and students connected,” Cantrell said.

    Professors are able to easily and quickly get any messages out to students through posting announcements on the site, as well as send students registered for the class a group e-mail,” Cantrell said.

    “I think it”s the perfect tool for our deadline-driven society,” she said.

    Steven Harper, a BYU religion professor, agreed with Cantrell, but said Blackboard has a few restrictions.

    “I like Blackboard because it empowers students and teachers,” Harper said. “I don”t have to spend as much time administering, and students can be less preoccupied with note-taking. It”s not magic; it has serious limitations, but I generally like it as a tool.”

    BYU student Jenae Farley, 20, a junior, from Orem, majoring in pre-management said she likes Blackboard, but some teachers fail to update it as their class progresses.

    “I think it works really well and it”s nice to find out lots of information,” Farley said. “A lot of times teachers don”t upgrade as often as I hope they would, but it depends on the teacher.”

    Blackboard also serves as a liaison for teachers, teaching assistants and students to communicate using e-mail, discussion boards and chat forums.

    Nadine Smith, 18, a sophomore, from Kent, Wash., majoring in computer science, regularly received e-mails from a teacher through Blackboard to notify the class of quizzes they needed to take.

    Blackboard also serves as an online testing engine. Students take tests and quizzes online, and can even receive instant feedback.

    “When my teacher was posting a quiz on Blackboard, he would e-mail us to tell us it was available,” Smith said.

    Smith said she prefers tests and quizzes on Blackboard over handwritten examinations.

    “They”re easier,” Smith said.

    Gary Johns, 21, a junior, from Blackfoot, Idaho, majoring in mechanical engineering, took several quizzes through Blackboard, but said several of his peers struggled with technical difficulties.

    “We had to read papers that were on Blackboard and take quizzes on them while the papers were open [on the screen], so it was easy,” Johns said. “But a lot of people had a lot of frustrations getting into it and not having it work for them. The teacher would have to go back and reset the quiz.”

    Johns said he prefers the convenience of Blackboard, however.

    “Blackboard is definitely better than going to the Testing Center, but sometimes I think they give quizzes because it”s easy,” Johns said.

    When teachers need help with Blackboard, they can call the Center for Instructional Design for help to better understand Blackboard through workshops and consultations.

    Students can also receive help from the Office of Information Technology if they encounter a technical difficulty.

    Justin Johansen, product manager for the Office of Information technology, said even though Blackboard currently serves as a community of teaching and learning for instructors and students, the Office of Information Technology is working to improve its functionality and reliability.

    “It”s growing quickly and because of new changes, I can see it becoming a ubiquitous tool for students and teachers,” said Johansen. “People should expect a lot of changes by fall.”

    Among increased reliability and functionality, information technology employees are upgrading Blackboard by implementing new software.

    “We”re aggressively trying to expand the functionality of Blackboard,” said Johansen. “You need to be able to count on it being there.”

    Print Friendly, PDF & Email