A longtime Blackboard Vista user, Professor Dan Lybrook was eager to be one of the instructors testing the new Blackboard Learn, and he’s finding that he’s glad he did. He’s finding that his students are glad he did, too.
Instructors will need to begin using Blackboard Learn for their classes by January 2013, but like Lybrook, many are working on converting courses now and for the fall semester. For more information about Blackboard Learn 9.1 on the West Lafayette campus, faculty may register for workshops offered during the weeks of April 9 and April 30, read the Blackboard Learn 9.1 implementation plan or the Blackboard Learn wiki and contact ITaP’s teaching and learning staff with questions or to schedule a consultation session.
Lybrook’s greatest need was making it easier to develop two sections of Human Resource Issues, a required course for juniors and seniors majoring in organizational leadership and supervision (OLS). His course teaches students analytic and problem-solving skills through situational case studies dealing with employee-employer relations. The associate professor in the College of Technology uses a mix of lecture and discussion, real-life managerial situation role playing and analysis, group presentations and problem solving built around cases.
He compared the navigation of Blackboard Vista, which has cumbersome development screens and stages, to Blackboard Learn’s, where he’s able to gather all the related parts of a unit of study or lesson in one place within the content area. Through Learn’s drag-and-drop and copy-and-paste functionalities, Lybrook can readily pull in announcements, assignments and other resource elements from folders on the course site and position them as he wants.
In addition to the same options as Vista’s content area, such as creating assessments, Blackboard offers dozens more in Learn — collaboration tools like blogs, virtul chat rooms and whiteboards; self and peer assessments and surveys; and even links to such third-party programs as McGraw-Hill Library. The Blackboard Learn wiki has a comparison chart showing Learn’s new capabilities and what has been removed since Vista.
Meanwhile, Lybrook’s students are taken by Learn’s improved stability.
“My students often complained that taking quizzes in Vista would frequently but randomly lock their computers,” he says. “They could only access a quiz once, so if the lockout occurred before they submitted their answers, students had no way to earn points for the quiz. Having used Blackboard Vista in courses their first two years on campus, these students definitely noticed the difference in Learn when they completed assignments and assessments or checked their grades and did not experience the same risks.”
A colleague in the Learn pilot who knew about Lybrook’s case-study approach suggested recently that he try a course wiki or Learn’s discussion boards. He’s considering how he can use more of what Learn offers in his fall-semester classes.
Lybrook admits he’s on a learning curve with Learn. He’s worked closely with Ben Holmes, an ITaP educational technologist, and encourages fellow instructors who have not yet begun to rebuild their courses in Learn to take advantage of the assistance available to ease the transition.
“Make a point to take one of the ITaP workshops in April or over the summer,” Lybrook says. “Carve out a couple hours now to simplify preparing your fall courses. Don’t be afraid. Learn has plenty of teaching tools. And, take it from me, it’s not like Vista. It’s easy to manipulate.”
While they’ll need to begin using Blackboard Learn in January, faculty will have a full year, until Dec. 31, 2013, to move all their course content from Blackboard Vista to Learn.
Writer: Carol Bloom, ITaP, 765-496-7998, email@example.com
Source: Daniel Lybrook, 765-496-7676, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated: March 30, 2012