Blackboard Capabilities Improve Knowledge

Education on Blackboard helps Ferris professors create better learning

by Published: Apr 17, 2013

Fireside Chat: Dr. Mary Holmes explains Ferris Connect to attendees of the Fireside Chat in FLITE 404. The purpose of the meeting was to increase the understanding of the Blackboard system. Photo By: Eric Trandel | Photographer

Fireside Chat: Dr. Mary Holmes explains Ferris Connect to atten­dees of the Fireside Chat in FLITE 404. The pur­pose of the meet­ing was to increase the under­stand­ing of the Blackboard sys­tem. Photo By: Eric Trandel | Photographer

The excuse “Blackboard shut down” when try­ing to sub­mit an assign­ment will not suf­fice for tech savvy Ferris State professors.

The Course Activity Overview option gives edu­ca­tors the abil­ity to sort stu­dent data in rela­tion to Blackboard access. The inter­nal soft­ware pro­gram tells pro­fes­sors specif­i­cally how much time a stu­dent spent com­plet­ing assigned work on Blackboard.

If a Ferris State stu­dent claimed he or she attempted to turn in an assign­ment, but was booted off the pro­gram, the pro­fes­sor will be able to ver­ify the claim.

“Faculty really like to hear this infor­ma­tion. They want to help the stu­dents. If I have a stu­dent who is per­form­ing poorly, what do I need to do to fix this?” Dr. Mary Holmes, Ferris’ E-learning sys­tems admin­is­tra­tor and Fireside Chat coor­di­na­tor, said.

Ferris pro­fes­sors learned this abil­ity and other tech­no­log­i­cal prin­ci­ples from weekly install­ments of Fireside Chats. The event is held on Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. in FLITE 404.

During last week’s meet­ing, two Ferris State pro­fes­sors were in atten­dance. On an aver­age weekly basis, the num­ber of atten­dees does not fluc­tu­ate dras­ti­cally, accord­ing to Holmes.

“It expands my hori­zons to the changes we have been see­ing with the Blackboard sys­tem. It’s given me a lot of infor­ma­tion to make our edu­ca­tion process bet­ter,” Ferris assis­tant pro­fes­sor Catherine Archer said.

Holmes claimed there is a direct cor­re­la­tion between stu­dents’ time spent on Blackboard and their grade in the spe­cific course. No data was avail­able to sub­stan­ti­ate the claim.

Ferris State University uses Blackboard 9.1, which updates the cur­rent sys­tem when­ever new imple­ments are avail­able to fos­ter a bet­ter learn­ing environment.

One of the updates includes an Early Warning System; if a stu­dent is strug­gling in a par­tic­u­lar class, an alert is sent to the pro­fes­sor indi­cat­ing the spe­cific grade.

“It’s taught me how to use this tool to bet­ter track my stu­dents. If I need to send an early warn­ing to catch some­thing in advance, I can do it,” Ferris instruc­tor Linda St. Clair said.

Every August, pro­fes­sors attend ori­en­ta­tion ses­sions to fur­ther their knowledge.

“It’s a train­ing issue [pro­fes­sors’ knowl­edge of Blackboard]; every­one can do the Early Warning System if they knew about it. There is so much for all of us to learn,” Holmes said.

Ferris has used some form of Blackboard since the early 2000s. Holmes believes more pro­fes­sors will under­stand how to use the full poten­tial of the sys­tem, as newer teach­ers typ­i­cally stress com­puter involve­ment more than others.