Blackboard Learning System on College Campuses

Blackboard Learning System on College Campuses

Janaki Santhiveeran (California State University, Long Beach, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-906-0.ch054
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Abstract

This chapter presents a synopsis of the Blackboard Learning System (BLS), highlights how the BLS has been used in college campuses, and describes the uses of Blackboard tools based on author’s experience in California State University, Long Beach for graduate level courses. Also, this chapter reflects on the author’s experiences in developing and facilitating online classroom groups by using Blackboard tools. Topics discussed include the use of electronic bulletin board and virtual chat in creating online classroom groups. Group dynamics and procedures such as group formation, membership, cohesion, the roles of facilitators, and interaction patterns are summarized. The classroom group interaction pattern is discussed using sample online postings. The author describes how Teaching and Learning Cycle (TLC) framework is enhanced with the integration of the Blackboard tools for course management, interaction, and assessment of student progress in learning. Finally, this chapter concludes with advantages, recommendations, and future trends.
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Introduction

The arrival of web-based course design software programs such as Web CT, Blackboard, Mallard, eCollege, and Moodle into college campuses is changing teaching and learning (Derouza & Fleming, 2003; Fredrickson, 1999; Landry & Hartman, 2006; McCollum, 1997). Among these course software programs, Blackboard is by far the easiest interface for course creation (Fredrickson, 1999; Lim, 2001; Landry & Hartman, 2006; Rempel & McMillen, 2008) and for creating online groups across disciplines (Pinch & Graves, 2000; Taylor, 2004). The main focus of this chapter is the Blackboard Learning System (BLS), which was created in an academic setting. For more than a decade, Blackboard Inc. has been flexibly modifying their tools toward meeting the needs of adult learners (Blackboard Inc., 2009; DeNeui & Dodge, 2006; McCollum, 1997). The earlier versions of this software were known as Course Info releases (Blackboard Inc., 2001) and the new versions include Blackboard Academic SuiteTM Release 8.0 and Blackboard LearnTM Release 9.0 (Blackboard Inc., 2009; Hwang & Arbaugh, 2009; Rempel & McMillen, 2008).

Some of these technology-based pedagogical tools are used to create online groups to increase interaction and mutual collaborations (Taylor, 2004; Wernet, Olliges, & Delicath, 2000). Web based discussion as a teaching strategy is growing in institutions of higher education (Dietz-Uhler & Bishop-Clark, 2001; Pinch & Graves, 2000; Gingerich, Abel, D’Aprix, Nordquist, & Riebschleger, 1999; Huff, 2001; McConnell, l994; Page, Jencius, Rehfuss, Dean, Petruzzi, Olson, & Sager, 2003). Online classroom groups are often formed to enhance subsequent traditional face-to-face meetings (Dietz-Uhler & Bishop-Clark, 2001; Wernet, Olliges, & Delicath, 2000) while others are formed to promote learning and collaboration in distance education classrooms (Johnson & Huff, 2000; Randolph & Krause, 2002). Electronic Bulletin Board (EBB) is most commonly used by educators in higher education (Pinch & Graves, 2000; Randolph & Krause, 2002; Taylor, 2004) to enhance learning and interaction (Page et al., 2003; Pinch & Graves, 2000; Taylor, 2004). Only Page et al. used PalTalk, which is audio conferencing software. Johnson and Huff (2000) used e-mail to interact with on-campus and distance education social work students. They found that students used e-mail more for practical reasons than for academic enrichment. All other studies identified in this section predominantly used text based discussion forums for online group discussions. Randolph and Krause (2002) found that both on-campus and distance education social work students are less likely to use the Internet for mutual support and more likely to use the online tools for individual problem solving and data sharing. Despite the benefits identified by several authors, there is very limited literature that recognizes a classroom as a group (Randolph & Krause, 2002). In addition, literature written on online group dynamics and group processes has been emerging only in recent years (Michinov, Michinov, & Toczek-Capelle, 2004). Therefore, a discussion of online groups is important as this article focuses on online technologies that expand the opportunities to interact and study the group formation, characteristics and dynamics of online classroom groups.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Assessment System: includes tools to administer surveys and quizzes online.

Teaching and Learning Cycle (TLC): is a framework, which provides a design for a learning environment. TLC takes into consideration organization of course documents, creating opportunities for problem solving, interconnected learning tasks, constant feedback, and ongoing change in course delivery.

Static Information Delivery System: is a capability in the BLS, which allows uploading of file formats such as MS word, PowerPoint, and PDF.

Learning Management Systems (LMS): are course authoring software programs used by instructors to create learning environment for students.

Asynchronous Communication: is a delayed text-based communication, which allows thread based discussions. An user could post messages or participate in an online discussion at any time.

Synchronous Communication: is a real-time text-based communication, which allows instant conversation between two or more users.

Hyperlink: A hyperlink is an inserted link in a word that takes the user from one document to another document or a website when the user clicks the word (hypertext).

Blackboard Learning System (BLS): is a course authoring software used by instructors in college campuses.

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