by: Nick Smith
My grandmother likes to remind me that to her it seems like yesterday that she attended college - something virtually unheard for women of her generation to do. In fact, she and I went to the same university, even studied in the same buildings. But despite those college experiences we share, something makes me think that the way college works now is remarkably different than the way it did when she was there. It seems that the old adage of “Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmetic” should be reworked to say “Downloading, Typing, and eBay.”
If you find yourself wondering about what changes might have come about since you yourself attended college, allow me to explain one tool that has been developed to take advantage of new technologies to help teachers teach better and help students learn better. It’s what could be called “Blackboard Learning.”
Features of Blackboard Learning
Blackboard technology is an online resource where teachers and students may exchange resources, interact, and find information regarding courses in which they are enrolled. When a student enrolls in a course making use of Blackboard learning, they are given access through their university or college’s website to a customizable portal page that lists the courses they are enrolled in. Each course includes several separate online resources that students can use to succeed in the course.
In the past teachers either had to make copies of all their handouts to give to students or put whatever the students needed to know up on the blackboard and students were responsible for copying it down. The former option is a waste of paper and ink, while the latter is a waste of time. Blackboard technology now allows teachers to upload digital copies of handouts which students can download and, if they choose, print. Class notes, PowerPoint presentations, video and audio clips, pictures, and other resources can be made available to the entire class simply by uploading them to Blackboard. This virtually eliminates the problem of students losing the syllabus or other important class document because there is always a copy online that they have ready access to.
Blackboard learning includes an online grade book. Professors simply update the students’ grades each time a new quiz, test, or assignment is graded, and the tallied scores are made available to the students. This feature allows students to keep tabs on exactly where they are throughout the semester, and the teacher saves time from having to answer questions about what students got on homework assignments. The grade book also allows students and professors to double check their records to ensure the proper grade for each assignment is recorded.
Between classes, homework, extracurricular activities, and road trips, students can’t always find a time to meet on campus and study or work on group projects. Online forums, discussion groups, and chat rooms add a humanistic touch to Blackboard learning. Students make post questions they have about different assignments or concepts, and other students or the professor can respond. Professors may lead out-of-class discussions online to help round out the lectures given during class time.
Why Blackboard Learning?
If you were to turn in a handwritten financial report or used a hand drawn graph in a sales pitch, you very likely would not receive the same response as if you had typed the report or designed the graphic with a computer. Whether we like it or not (personally, I like it!) technology is not only here to stay but it is fully integrated into nearly everything we do – and education is no different. Papers are typed. Research is done online. PowerPoint has replaced overhead projectors.
Students and teachers have to take advantage of technological advances in order to stay afloat in the information age. Blackboard Learning is a resource that helps students stay organized and succeed.