Helpful, effective and makes your life easier; these are three characteristics that every student looks for in any new product or service provided by their college or university. I must add “optional” to the list, since one thing students absolutely dislike is to be forced to do something, regardless of whether or not they would independently do it. How about the opportunity to access your courses and course materials online? Not during class time, not during your professor’s office hours and without having to wait for your professor to answer your emails. It also will not add to your workload, and will most probably make your life easier. Please allow me introduce you to…Blackboard.
Blackboard is an online tool that enhances learning and course management outside of the classroom. It is a big step away from traditional classrooms, enabling the communication of course requirements, materials, as well as projects in a virtual setting where physical presence is not required. Not only does it supplement on-campus courses, it also makes it possible for schools to offer fully on¬line classes, and thus, online-based degrees.
At LIU Post, Blackboard is used for both methods. Most commonly, professors utilize it to make course materials; including the syllabus, PowerPoint slides and any assignments; available to students anytime, any¬where. Some professors believe it is a good way to “Go Green”, leaving it at the discretion of the student to print out the materials. In addition, professors might upload optional readings that they believe would benefit students outside the classroom.
All the students I have interviewed believe that Blackboard is an extremely helpful and necessary educational vehicle. They believe it has numerous benefits and absolutely no flaws. Svetlana Martynovich, a senior in the international studies program, says, “I think Blackboard is useful and students need it because it organizes schoolwork and they can connect with their professors.” She says that “about half of my professors use it,” some more than others. She also claims that there are no inconveniences resulting from professors using Blackboard. Rather, when they do use it, it is very helpful and beneficial.
For most students, Blackboard is a lifeguard. When you see it listed on your syllabus, you wonder why the professor would bother to mention it if you are never required to access it. Just like the lifeguard sitting up there on the wooden pedestal, appearing to be doing nothing other than enjoying the nice ocean breeze. However, when that gigantic swell wave engulfs you, you will find the lifeguard right beside you pulling you onshore. That is Blackboard. When your car breaks down and you miss class, Blackboard will be waiting with the PowerPoint slides and assignment sheet. When you lose a handout that your professor gave you, Blackboard will already have a copy made for you. Also, if you were not present on the day your midterm exam was handed back, you don’t have to worry about emailing your professor or waiting until next class to get your grade. Just go online, login to Blackboard, and there it will be staring you in the face.
Of course, this seems too perfect to be true. It doesn’t have to be -it just depends on the professor. Some professors use Black¬board more than others, so how easy your life can get will be under his or her mercy. Alyssa Sciarratta, a senior in the accountancy program, says, “Not all of my professors use [Blackboard] and I wish they would because there may be many different assignments throughout the semester and I like how Black¬board keeps track of them for me.” She adds, “I would hope that eventually all professors would use and take advantage of the system, that way I don’t have to always check my email because if there is an announcement, I know it will be there.” Sciarratta also believes that Blackboard is just as convenient to professors as it is for students, “because professors can send out one mass message rather than keep track of emailing each student.”
I tend to agree with both Martynovichand Sciarratta. I believe Blackboard is an invaluable learning tool that is accompanied with many advantages for both students and professors. I love the fact that I can access and print the PowerPoint presentation for each chapter before class starts so I can follow along with the professor during class. I also love it when professors post grades on there, this way I don’t have to keep waiting until the next class or (if it is the end of the semester) I don’t have to email my professor and ask him or her for my final exam grade. In the future, I hope that many more professors start using Blackboard for more than just posting the syllabus, which as of now, according to our Information Technology Resource Center, is their only requirement.