I wanted to take a minute to answer the question that I have been asked the most since we began this process for reviewing Blackboard. Have we already made a decision to get rid of Blackboard and is this just a way to get a new LMS? No. That is not the case at all.
When I started working at S&T over six years ago, my first assignment was to “make Blackboard better.” As an educator my first question was, how did Blackboard affect teaching and learning? I started working with instructors across campus, trying to understand their needs and whether Blackboard met or did not meet those needs. Over the years, we have added different third party products in order to provide more functionality, but the overall question remains, Does Blackboard meet the teaching and learning needs of our campus?
About a year ago we began to evaluate all the tools used in teaching and learning on our campus (we call this our Learning Technology Portfolio). The objective was to see if we had any gaps or overlaps in our tools. We wanted to make sure we were spending the money allocated for teaching and learning in the best possible way. At the end of last year we had one item left to evaluate in the portfolio: Blackboard. Do we or don’t we review? Many schools wouldn’t because it gets everybody excited on campus and it is labor intensive. We decided that to truly evaluate our portfolio and be fiscally responsible we had to do a review.
Our objective with the Blackboard review isn’t to change to something different. Our objective is to identify the needs of our campus for a learning management system (like Blackboard) and meet those needs as effectively as possible. We put together a committee of instructors and students. We started a survey and have hosted two open forums. The focused purpose is to determine what our campus needs from an LMS in order to help in the teaching and learning mission of our university. The committee will analyze the information gathered from the survey and open forums and formulate a scoring guide or rubric that identifies all of the requirements for a learning management system. Using the scoring guide, we will score Blackboard to determine how it measures up to the needs of our campus. The committee of instructors and students will recommend what the next steps are. That decision will be what drives the next steps. We want to make sure the students and instructors at S&T have the best possible technologies available for teaching and learning.
We want to hear from you. If you didn’t have a chance to take the survey or attend the forums, you can send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–By Angie Hammons; posted by Joshua Woehlke