Jan 26, 2010

Blackboard gets facelift

by Taylor Overhultz

While everyone else was making resolutions about weight loss and habit changes, Liberty resolved to improve the dated Blackboard system, but they also revolutionized the way students and faculty interface with course material online.
According to Susan Crabtree, lead trainer for the Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence, Liberty made the decision to upgrade Blackboard based on multiple factors including the growth of enrollment, the Blackboard support expiring after 2009 and increased features in version 9.

“I like this version better than the old one,” sophomore Angela Meert, a teacher’s assistant for Kenneth Cleaver said. “My job is to enter grades and contact students, and it helps me get things done much faster.”

Faculty and staff will find that Blackboard is faster and editing options are now right on the screen. Quicker adding of grades and customization tools allow for specific needs to be met.

According to Crabtree, faculty are most excited about the new grade center which was formerly the gradebook. “It’s more streamlined and user friendly,” junior Joe Goins said. “It will take some adjusting to, sure, but everything needs to be updated. Students that use Facebook deal with updates to that system. Just like Facebook, we will eventually learn how to master Blackboard again.”

Some students have had a negative reaction to the change in the Blackboard, citing downloading problems and navigation as the reason.

“It’s not exactly user friendly,” senior Allen Ancheril said. “It’s hard to navigate and the Blackboard tutorial needs to be easier.”
Instruction is available to assist students in using the new system, according to Crabtree.

“There are student tutorials posted on the Blackboard portal with printable handouts with step-by-step instructions as well as video files to watch and hear a walk through on performing the steps,” Crabtree said.

Crabtree also advises student to use Mozilla Firefox as the internet browser when running Blackboard.
“(Using Firefox) will solve 99 percent of any issues they may encounter such as opening files and documents or viewing some pages, depending on the content,” Crabtree said.

To upload an assignment, students must click “Browse” to choose the document and then click “Attach File” before the instructor will be able to see it to grade.

“If there is no ‘Tools/Grades’ menu item, students should click on the Liberty Blackboard tab in the upper left corner and then use the View Grades in the Tool box. That will allow them to view grades from all classes in which they are currently enrolled,” Crabtree said.

Contact Taylor Overhultz at
toverhultz@liberty.edu.


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