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A Community of (On-Line) Writers: The Culture of Sharing in Course Management Systems


Contributor: Kelly A. Shea
School Affiliation: Seton Hall University
Email:sheakell@shu.edu


I believe that incorporating course management systems (CMS) into my writing classes has made all my teaching more effective and all my students' learning deeper. This may simply be because I am teaching a generation of students who are more motivated by technology and are thus more stimulated by learning that takes place assisted by technology. Or maybe it’s because I teach writing, where CMS features apply particularly well.

My experiences center on undergraduate teaching and learning—I also teach graduate students, but the pedagogical needs are very different at this level, even at my university, a medium-sized, private institution where undergraduates are issued laptops, but graduate students are not. I teach first-year writing, upper-level writing workshops, and graduate rhetoric and writing pedagogy courses. For the last six years, I have used CMSs in all my teaching.

My courses are hybrids—we meet face-to-face twice weekly, but we use the BlackBoard shell daily to keep the class materials centralized and organized. I post the course syllabi, writing assignments, and handouts in one of three content areas; I do not make printed copies of anything, although I do encourage students to download and/or print the documents. And rather than using the cumbersome Assignment and Gradebook features of BlackBoard, I create individual groups in the Group Pages section and post the students’ graded work (essays, presentations, quizzes, tests) privately there. In External Links I post sites that I use in the class or that I hope the students will use—such as the Writing Center homepage, links to readings, and links to writing style guide resources. Also, I ask the students to post their best work and final self-assessments to their Content Systems in order to create and share end-of-semester electronic portfolios, which I use in place of the paper portfolios I used to require.

The students seem to approve. In fact, they are quite willing to provide anonymous comments in a BlackBoard Discussion Board forum about BlackBoard. One undergraduate comments, “it was very useful to post the assignments on BlackBoard. … it made it easier to share everything (and it saved a lot of trees in the process!)" (#U16). Even in the graduate courses, where students do not usually own university-issued laptops, we keep all the materials in the shell. They can access the courses from their home, work, or library computers. One graduate student says, “BlackBoard has been extremely beneficial to my production in this particular class. … it was helpful knowing that I could post my paper wherever I ended up being” (#G2).

I use the Discussion Board to collect both formal and informal student writing. Indeed, probably the most important feature of BlackBoard for us is the one that allows students to post their writing and then read and respond to their classmates’ or to my responses to that writing. We use the Discussion Board for in-class writing and for peer review—students post their essay drafts to a forum, their partners download the files to their own computers, read and add comments to those versions, and then post the new versions back as replies to the original threads. The students then sit with their partners in class and discuss the comments. They are prompted with a forum that is a form they complete, with the following directions:

Read your classmate’s composition. Can you find a thesis statement? What do you think is the best aspect of your classmate’s writing? Underline everything that you don’t understand. Write down all the questions you have. After you have answered these questions, discuss them and the writing with the author. Remember that you are writing for each other, so it’s important that you understand each others’ writing.


Reading, commenting, and discussing in class is time-consuming, but when draft day comes around (about every two weeks), everyone knows that their drafts need to be posted or someone will not have writing to read during class. As one undergraduate points out, “Being able to post papers on this discussion board for the classroom has made everything less stressful, and it was a much easier method of submitting ideas and papers. I really enjoyed being able to have my paper reviewed several times by different people so I was able to get many different perspectives on what would I could change with my paper” (#U4).

After class, I download the peer-reviewed versions, write my comments with a stylus on my tablet laptop, and then post those documents back as replies to the reviewer’s reply to the original writer. Since the Discussion Board is a public space, all students have the ability to see each others’ writing, but this, I contend, is no different from any writing workshop. However, this also means that we must quickly develop a community of trust in the classroom.

In order to do this, we begin in the first week with paired introductions, introducing each other with basic facts about our academic and out-of-school lives to the rest of the class, and posting our answers to the interview questions in the Discussion Board. The students also write in class, in the Discussion Board, every day. I typically start every class with a writing prompt that requires students to respond to questions about the reading for the day. After they have written for a few minutes, they post their responses and we discuss the reading. I find this in-class writing is even more effective than before-class writing: first, because everyone actually does it (as opposed to NOT having done it as homework); second, because the answers are fresh in the students’ minds; and third, if all requests for volunteers fail (or even if they don’t), the students can simply read their responses. I find that when students write their responses to the questions first, their answers are better thought-out and more coherent than those that are spontaneous. The prompts to which they write are fairly simple questions about the readings, such as “What is your experience of reading this piece? How do you interpret it? How would you evaluate the piece? What is the author’s thesis? Why do you think that is the main point?”

Does this work? Once the initial hesitation wears off, most students seem to appreciate using the laptops nearly every day in class (I have ways of keeping them on-task, off IM, and out of email—but that’s another wiki), and, perhaps more important, they appreciate the idea of giving structured feedback to their peers, whether it’s on an essay, an in-class writing, or a presentation. One undergraduate student mentions using BlackBoard for the in-class discussion questions: “It allowed us to see what the other students wrote anytime we want instead of just hearing it when being questioned about it in class” (#U7). A graduate student thinks that it is effective to use “the discussion board aspect of BlackBoard … through all facets of the course (in-class work, free-writing, group discussion, assignments, etc.), as this offered a ‘central meeting’ ground for us to communicate and respond to each other” (#G5). Indeed, after they have posted a few responses to in-class writing prompts, reluctant participants often become less frightened, even of speaking aloud in class, and more verbal students find that having to type their responses makes them more succinct—in writing and (sometimes) in speaking.

Not surprisingly, students do not overwhelmingly like BlackBoard. One student expressed concern about others being able to see his/her writing: s/he says, “There was not much I did not like, but if I were forced to say something, it would probably be the fact that anyone in the class could read my paper if they felt like it” (#U4); several students complained about BlackBoard “being down”; and several did suggest that I use the Gradebook feature. But the feedback I received after Fall 2006 semester was overwhelmingly positive.

With the CMS, my undergrads are generally more engaged, take their writing more seriously, and are able to see their progress more clearly. And while some may look askance at technology in the classroom, is it so different from incorporating new readings, updated textbooks, or other materials that embody the most current research—or including modern music or contemporary poetry to meet students where they are? Why not use such tools? My students, at least, expect it—and they like it. One undergraduate says, “I love BlackBoard. It helps me see all the class information while still enabling me to contribute to the class through hi techsic. I think it should be a requirement for an englishsic class, especially…there is no hassle of HANDING papers in…All the information and assignment requirements were really a click away. I honestly thought we got the work done much faster…” (U#8). So, if the students respond generally positively and write better, what’s not to like?

APPENICES

Appendix 1: Undergraduate responses

 

U1

Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

Please write about how you have felt working in the BlackBoard course management system in this class. What did you like about how we used BlackBoard? What did you dislike about it? What do you think we might have done differently with BlackBoard? Would you rather not have used it at all?
Is there an aspect of BlackBoard that did we not use that you used in other classes and wish we used here?
Do you have any additional comments or suggestions about BlackBoard?
I liked blackboard a lot. It was great to be able to simply post papers rather then have to worry about printing etc. I didn't really dislike anything, it was right up my alley. It was great, really I thought it was a great way to use the tool in the classroom. I like it, keep it up

 

U2

Thread:BB
Post:BB
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

I liked blackboard, I feel it is an easy way to submit assignments. Doing papers on the computer makes it easier because you dont have to worry about losing your paper. It also eliminates you forgetting your papaer at home or saying that the dog had ate it.

 

U3

Thread:icw13
Post:icw13
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

Blackboard is really easy to use and helpful in class. It’s faster and easier to submit assignments through blackboard instead of printing out essays and handing it in. Also, if your essay is lost it’s posted on the internet; you have it stored and backed up somewhere. Blackboard should be used in every class that’s able to use it.

 

U4

Thread:BlackBoard
Post:BlackBoard
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

I have felt that BlackBoard has been an incredibly useful tool for this English class. Being able to post papers on this discussion board for the classroom has made everything less stressful, and it was a much easier method of submitting ideas and papers. I really enjoyed being able to have my paper reviewed several times by different people so I was able to get many different perspectives on what I could change with my paper. There was not much that I did not like, but if I were forced to say something, it would probably be the fact that anyone in the class could read my paper if they felt like it. I felt that using BlackBoard was an extremely useful tool for this class and I do not think much could have been changed with our use of it.

The only other nice feature that I have seen some of my professors use is the ‘My Grades’ portion, where it is laid out exactly what your grade is in the course and where you stand. I have felt that knowing where you stand in a class is always a comforting thing to know.

I felt like BlackBoard contributed greatly to the classroom setting. I felt like using BlackBoard was an extremely positive experience.

U5

Thread:icw13
Post:icw13
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

I liked the blackboard course managemnet system. It was very to do use and very helpful. Using everything through blackboard was the best way to go. It helps us stay organized, and keeps communication between Professors and students. However, I didn't like the times where it was down. Because everything is in blackboard, when the system was down for the day or even hours, I couldn't do anything. I used blackboard the most in this class. My other classes just use it for email and eportofolios.

U6

Thread:ICW13
Post:ICW13
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

When I first started using BlackBoard in class, I was a bit skeptical about how efficient the online system was going to be considering how networks can sometimes be unreliable. During the beginning of the year, it was a bit shaky, with people not really being able to connect at the same time, which caused some students to get a peer response while others did not, or whatever the case may have been. However, a few weeks in, everything settled down and it turned out to be extremely helpful. I hate having to manage tons of papers for each class, and having our assignments written out on paper is really aggravating as I have to be especially careful where I put the sheets. When everything is online, it’s far easier to manage myself, and I found it easy to be able to double-check what the question being asked of me was from nearly anywhere on campus. I almost wish all my classes had used BlackBoard as effectively as it was used it in English class, but I suppose that is up to the teacher’s discretion. If I was to suggest using one thing that was used in another course, but not this one, it would be the online grading sheet. I really appreciate being able to keep track of the grades I’m getting online, so I can discuss any discrepancies early on and not have a bunch of missing assignments that I know I turned in suddenly jump out at me in the last week of the class. Aside from that, I really have no other suggestions.

 

U7

Thread:ICW #13
Post:ICW #13
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

I liked how we used BlackBoard for the inclass discussion questions. It allowed us to see what the other students wrote anytime we want instead of just hearing it when being questioned about it in class. The one thing that I really dislike about BlackBoard that it is very unreliable. There are times where I cannot get in to the course tab or the email. It is very frustrating. Also, it decides to freeze while I'm trying to upload an assignment on to it. It makes me nervous thinking that my response or assignment did not get posted.
This class is where I actually used BlackBoard the most. My other classes just used it to post assignments and some classes did not even use it.

 

U8

Thread:blackboard opinion
Post:blackboard opinion
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

Please write about how you have felt working in the BlackBoard course management system in this class. What did you like about how we used BlackBoard? What did you dislike about it? What do you think we might have done differently with BlackBoard? Would you rather not have used it at all?
Is there an aspect of BlackBoard that did we not use that you used in other classes and wish we used here?
I love blackboard. It helps me to see all the class information while still enabling students to contribute to the class through hi tech. I think it should be a requirement for an english class, especially...there is no hassle of HANDING papers...printing them out, stapling them. Instead, using blackboard was a really fast way of posting essays, while still keeping up with the class homework assigments. I like the fact that we didn't have to use the notebook for writing notes or anything...All the information and assigment requirements were really a click away. I honestly thought we got the work done much faster using blackboard. It was a new worthwhile experience.

 

U9

Thread:icw
Post:icw
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

I enjoyed using blackboard. I think that it was an effective tool in the classroom. I found it a lot more convenient to be able to post my work on the computer rather than having to print it out or take it from a notebook. I think that blackboard kept me organized and because of it I was able to hand my work in on time and efficiently. Like everything else blackboard has its flaws. There are times in class were the internet didn’t work so that we were not able to access all of our work on blackboard. There are also times when blackboard is down in general and we cannot access assignments, or hand in assignments. In some of my other class the teachers would set up our grade on the grades section under tools. I found this effective and think that it would have been nice to access this feature in this class. Overall I found blackboard to be effective and I enjoyed using it.

 

U10

Thread:blackboard
Post:blackboard
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

I felt that working in the BlackBoard course management system was alright. I like being able to post my work onto BlackBoard because it reduced the risk of my work being misplaced or lost. I did not like how corrections of our essays were done on BlackBoard because it was often hard to read the corrections. Other than that, I would have not done anything differently with BlackBoard. I would rather have used BlackBoard this semester.

In my Western Civilization class, my professor used BlackBoard to post historic texts. These texts were all at least 4 pages long, and reading them off of BlackBoard and on the computer was a very difficult thing to do. I would have rather read the information from a book or handouts.

 

U11

Thread:ICW 13
Post:ICW 13
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

Please write about how you have felt working in the BlackBoard course management system in this class. What did you like about how we used BlackBoard? What did you dislike about it? What do you think we might have done differently with BlackBoard? Would you rather not have used it at all?
Is there an aspect of BlackBoard that did we not use that you used in other classes and wish we used here?
Do you have any additional comments or suggestions about BlackBoard

The blackboard system has been a new experience for me. I have never had a class so involved in the internet. I really liked how the essays were submitted online and the comments are shown right on the computer. Unlike handing a paper in and have it handed back, I was able to check on the progress at any time and I always knew where it was. Blackboard made English more organized, something that I was never very good at doing myself. This was one of the few classes that truly utilized the laptops and the software given to make student life easier; as a result I found myself doing better in English compared to many of my other classes. It was fast and simple to look online to see when papers were do and what to have prepared for the next class, something that was confusing in other courses. My only suggestion about Blackboard is that more classes begin to utilize it the way we did here.

 

U12

Thread:ICW
Post:ICW
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

What I like about blackboard is posting papers into the course instead of printing them out because it saves time, ink, and paper. I do not believe that there was anything I did not like about blackboard; it was great for announcements, finding essay guidelines, and documents. In all, I like blackboard and wish I had used it in high school.

 

U13

Thread:ICW
Post:ICW
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

I loved using Blackboard in class. It is quite possibly the greatest invention in school since the No. 2 pencil. I really like that we did not have to print out our papers, so there was no chance of forgetting it on your desk, and you did not have to run around trying to find a printer that works. Another feature I liked was the discussion board. It is so easy to submit your work, that I am angry when other teachers do not utilize it. There was nothing I disliked about the system. The only aspect of Blackboard that I wish we used in this class is the “My Grades” portion. It is nice to see your grades lined up in a spreadsheet, so you know where you stand. Sometimes seeing everything in one place can really motivate you to do better.

 

U14

Thread:ICW
Post:ICW
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

I thought Blackboard was very useful in the classroom. The best part about using this in classes, for me, was probably that I could reference assignments and criteria. Having to juggle every assignment between all of my classes tends to be difficult. By having all the information about assignments (standards, requirements, due dates) I did not have to deal with information that may have slipped my mind from the time I saw my professor and the time I actually sat down to do my work. There was not anything in particular that I did not like about Blackboard. The only part of Blackboard we did not use that I think would be useful would be the “MY GRADES” portion. This way students would have a more general idea of how they are doing in the class.

 

U15

Thread:ICW
Post:ICW
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

It was a new experience for me and I didn’t mind it at all, I had access to course material wherever I was, and it made it easier to hand in paper and to check grades. I was also a good tool as far as interaction in class, for example during the Peer Response sessions, we read each other papers and instead of using papers and wasting a lot of time moving from place to place we just went into BlackBoard, accessed each other papers, read them then discussed them with the particular individuals. I don’t have any particular aspect that I disliked about the course management system, because it was a great tool that facilitated our learning in the class room. I think I used BlackBoard more in depth in this class than in any of my other classes.

 

U16

Thread:ICW #13
Post:ICW #13
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

I feel that the use of BlackBoard in this class was very valuable and it contriuted to the class in a good way. I was happy that many features within it were used, especially the Discussion Boards. It was very useful to post the assignments on BlackBoard as well as it made it easier to share everything (and it saved a lot of trees in the process!). I was a fan of the way we did the In-Class Writings and some other assignments that were posted onto BlackBoard, and it made it useful to be able to post group-work onto the Discussion Board so that anyone in the group would be able to access it. I was also happy with the use of the private Group Pages to return graded work. Again, it is nice to have everything online, but with this stuff, in particular, it is nice to have it restriced to access by the student and the teacher.
I really have no complaints about the use of BlackBoard in this course and I feel that it did contribute positively to the course.
I do wish that the MyGrades section was used as a way to keep me fully aware of what my grade was. It's not a necessary thing, but it would be a big help.

 

Appendix 2: Graduate responses

 

G1

Thread:Blackboard response
Post:Blackboard response
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

Honestly, I had split emotions on the usage of Blackboard's course management system. I liked that I didn't have to worry about printing a paper off destroying an unbelievable amount of resources throughout the semester. It allowed me to have all my resources available from any computer. The downfall of the system would be not having our edited drafts in front of me. When I tried to print off the drafts some of the words were cut off and I needed to go back and forth between my printed copy, electronic copy and the piece I was attempting to revise. It did end up making things a bit on the cumbersome side. In the long and short of it, I felt that using Blackboard was a positive experience giving we the students more freedom on where we could do our work and gave us the convience of having it readily available from any computer.

 

G2

Thread:Hello. My name is Anonymous
Post:Hello. My name is Anonymous
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

Please write about how you have felt working in the BlackBoard course management system in this class.
Blackboard has been extremely beneficial to my production in this particular class. Because there were six papers to write, it was helpful knowing that I could post my paper wherever I ended up being. However, there were cases where it was inconvenient. As a commuter, the trouble always arises, or the possibility, that my wireless server at home might not connect. And for that reason, I've encountered, on a couple of occasions, the other side of blackboard--by the other side, i mean its possible non-connection since access to it is contingent upon one's access to the Web.
What did you like about how we used BlackBoard?
Blackboard was most beneficial for posting the essays. It was very helpful and user friendly for peer response/review
What did you dislike about it?
There wasn't in time, in this course at least, that I found blackboard to be unnecessary. However, in the past, it was quite aggravating to print out certain articles from blackboard.
What do you think we might have done differently with BlackBoard?
I am not aware of too many other nuances that BlackBoard offers.
Would you rather not have used it at all?
It wasn't that bad to deal with. I found it useful actually.
Is there an aspect of BlackBoard that did we not use that you used in other classes and wish we used here?
The drop box. Mainly because I yearn to know it's intended purpose

 

G3

Thread:BB Assessment
Post:BB Assessment
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

Using BlackBoard has been extremely helpful in this intensive writing course. I found that having a permanent point of reference helped me to file and manage each paper as it was assigned. Both the detailed requirements and, once posted, my essays were easily accessible. There was no fear of losing them due to a system glitch or hard drive crash. However, if you do not have a reliable Internet connection, then all of these pluses are somehow wiped out. I think that BlackBoard is efficient for keeping everyone on the same page, but if no one knows to check BlackBoard, that defeats its main purpose as well. If there could be some sort of alert or automatic email that goes out to the users under our course section that would be extremely helpful. Even if done manually, once the professor posts, submits changes, or in some way modifies the page, the entire class would know (via email) that not only were there alterations, but also exactly where these changes were made (which tab, section, etc.) I don't know if this is in the hands of the English or IT Dept., but it would be an awesome addition.

 

G4

Thread:Blackboard Response
Post:Blackboard Respons
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

I liked using Blackboard in this class because I found the lack of paper/pencil supplies convenient. I also found turning papers in via Blackboard was extremely convenient; I definitely appreciated not having to trek to campus every time a paper was due. It was also helpful to have my papers posted at any given time so that I was able to work on them wherever I wanted. However, I do feel that Blackboard was only convenient for me since I have a laptop and consistent connection to the Internet. For other students, the use of Blackboard seemed to be much more cumbersome. For my own purposes though, I’m not sure if there’s any way that Blackboard could be used more effectively. I did experience some technical difficulties; the "Add Thread" button seems to close my IE window most of the time. Additionally, the in-class writing assignments posted on Blackboard, in some cases, may have seemed better suited for class discussion, but a conversation about those postings usually followed quickly after.

 

G5

Thread:Anonymity
Post:Anonymity
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

BlackBoard turned out to be an excellent means of communication. Aside from not having to print and use endless amounts of paper, BlackBoard offers an efficient and painless means to completing course work and submitting on time. I enjoyed having all of my work in one location; thus finding this accessibility to be most beneficial when referring back to specific works. Furthermore, Dr.Shea utilized the discussion board aspect of BlackBoard effectively through all facets of the course (in-class work, free-writing, group discussion, assignments, etc) as this offered a “central meeting” ground for us to communicate and respond to each other. I feel as though BlackBoard was beneficial and an asset to this course.

 

G6

Thread:BBBBBBBBLACKBBBBBBBOARD
Post:BBBBBBBBLACKBBBBBBBOARD
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

Please write about how you have felt working in the BlackBoard course management system in this class. What did you like about how we used BlackBoard?
I liked how it kept everything organized. I knew that if I was on a computer that was not my own, I could still access anything I needed for the class. Also, I liked how I didn't have to waste time printing the paper, its much more neat this way. For example, we did a power point presenation, and i did not have to worry about setting up my lap top to present it. We had a community laptop and the entire class accessed their own presentations from BlackBoard.
What did you dislike about it?
I'm not too sure I dislike much about the usage of BlackBoard in the class. I guess the fact that everyone can read what I am writing is akward. Especially for someone who isn't secure in his or her ability, it can be intimidating.
What do you think we might have done differently with BlackBoard?
I should have begun the semster adding everything into a portfolio.
Would you rather not have used it at all?
No way, i love BlackBoard.
Is there an aspect of BlackBoard that did we not use that you used in other classes and wish we used here?
I do not have much experience with BlackBoard, this has been the extent of my usage. I wish i would have though.
Do you have any additional comments or suggestions about BlackBoard?

G7

Thread:feelings about Blackboard
Post:feelings about Blackboard
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

I never got an official in-service on Blackboard, so I learned it from the occasional in-class in-service and trial and error. I've slogged through it, can post my papers and check my grades. In some of my courses where the professor has external links, I've been able to negotiate my way through those. I'm sure there are lots of things Blackboard can do that I'm not even aware of. I don't mind using it, actually it's been quite convenient. I can check on the professor's comments while away from home and then have time to think about possible revisions while on the commute home from work.

 

G8

Thread:A. Nonymous? Anyone? Anyone?
Post:A. Nonymous? Anyone? Anyone?
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

Overall, I feel the course management system worked effectively for this class. We didn’t use the more complicated features of the system, so I cannot evaluate all of its features. However, the discussion board was a unique way for all of us to both post our assignments and writings for the class to see. It also helped when we did the peer review, because now we could have easy access to each other’s writing, post comments, and then re-post the paper with the added comments. The message board also helped because it reminded us of important announcements, readings, and class writings that we needed to complete. For a writing class, especially one with weekly assignments, something like BlackBoard is absolutely essential in my humble opinion.

While those two aspects were positive, I would have liked to explore additional features in the system. I am pretty good with technology, so for me it wouldn’t be difficult to navigate my way through the program. However, there are people who may not use technology often, and so they probably encountered struggles along the way. (I am not sure if there’s a “wizard” or program to explain the system, but if so, that should be displayed prominently somewhere on the main page.) Maybe a better organization of buttons, etc., would be a good idea as well. But overall, I think it served its purpose in here.

 

G9

Thread:All Postings should be Anonymous
Post:All Postings should be Anonymous
Author:Anonymous Date:Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

Throughout my five years of Seton Hall experience, I have encountered a great deal of progression in regard to the impact technology and course management systems have had on my educational development. Certainly there are noble methods in which the usage of course management is effective and does provide both students and teachers with a means of engagement both inside and outside of the classroom. However by the same token, the implementation of technology in a classroom opens up far too many distractions that can easily overwhelm a class full of middle aged professors during faculty meetings, much less a section of 17 and 18 year old college freshman. The beauty of technology and specifically course management systems is that they make assignments, discussion, documents, and the student-teacher relationship that much more accessible while at the same time allowing for one’s mind to wander in the solace that is the internet and Aim conversations.

Course management systems do provide a helpful and useful medium to store work and to engage in the material within the class structure. If used effectively, course management systems and technology as a whole are extremely helpful in tracking the development of students of all levels. It is my opinion that the emphasis needs to be placed on the instructor to utilize the management system in a just and manageable way as opposed to overwhelming the student with the constant contact and requests for submissions that the professor may never read otherwise.

G10

Thread:Blackboard
Post:Blackboard
Author:Anonymous Date:Thursday, December 14, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

At the risk of forfeiting my anonymity, I am one of the few students who does not have a laptop to bring to class. While I realize that I am in the minority in this case, I do feel as though I have been at a bit of a disadvantage. Honesly, after driving over an hour to get home from class, i often forget to re-write and post what I had to handwrite in class earlier. I also feel that it would be much easier for me to have a laptop for peer reviews and presentations.
On the other hand, Blackboard has helped me substantially as a student who works full-time. The fact that I can access my essays from any computer without having to fill my email folders with files is a major advantage. The intensive amount of work that we do on the system has also vastly improved my knowledge of it, which has aided my efforts in other classes as well. that being said, I cannot offer suggestions for further uses, as I have learned the most about the system just recently.

G11

Thread:ICW 8
Post:ICW 8
Author:Anonymous Date:Thursday, December 14, 2006
Status:Published
Overall rating: Not rated

This was the first class I've had in which Blackboard was used significantly. It is a great way to easily organize materials and saves a lot of paper and demolishes printing woes. I enjoyed using it and wouldn't have changed anything.
For me, though, I often was unable to bring a computer to class which was a downfall as I would sometimes have to write my response, then type it later. However, with extra time to post, that still worked out.


Created by admin. Last Modification: Friday 25 of July, 2014 16:32:47 UTC by admin.