University pushes for Blackboard use

By on February 12, 2014

Approximately 70 percent of Quinnipiac professors utilize Blackboard to varying degrees, according to Director of Academic Technology Lauren Erardi.

Though it is not mandated that all faculty use this online tool, Erardi said professors are highly encouraged to enhance their courses through Blackboard.

“It’s our primary tool that we advocate for teaching and learning,” Erardi said. “It extends the classroom beyond the classroom walls.”

Junior Vincent Garcia said most of his professors use Blackboard.

“I hate it,” he said. “I am more of a pen and paper kind of guy, or handing stuff out, just doing work like that. Technology is not my thing.”

Although not all professors utilize Blackboard in their courses, Quinnipiac’s usage of online learning technology is higher than that of other institutions, according to Fred Tarca, vice president-chief information & technology officer.

“At Quinnipiac, we were always slightly above the national average in terms of adoption and usage of learning management systems on a college campus,” Tarca said. “That 70 percent, although it seems somewhat low, it really is quite competitive relative to other institutions.”

With the university closing early twice this semester and cancelling classes for one full day, some professors are realizing the benefit of using online technology, such as Blackboard, to post assignments online, according to Tarca.

“[In times of inclement weather] classes who have used Blackboard more heavily have had great advantages from having assignments posted online where students can get these sorts of assignments any time, any place outside of the classroom,” Tarca said.

Part-time professor Constance Cranos has used Blackboard since 2005, when she began teaching at Quinnipiac.

“While online course management solutions like Blackboard and Moodle offer basic communications and workflow functionality, I tend to use a broader suite of software & apps to get more visual, timely interaction,” she said.

Cranos incorporates social media into her assignments. For example, Cranos’ students in her marketing class tweeted about the ads during the Super Bowl.

“The class discussion was more strategic and all-encompassing in part because the conversation started live in real time on social media,” Cranos said. “Not every class topic allows for this sort of experience, but it’s one example of what’s possible when we blend technology and learning.”

Junior Tyler Karcz said online learning, such as through Blackboard, hurts his learning.

“I’d rather just get [assignment] in paper,” he said. “If you hand me an assignment, I’ll get it back to you.”

Academic Technology offers two to three training sessions a week on Blackboard, according to Erardi.

“[The workshops] are fairly topic specific,” Erardi said. “Faculty can attend one on collaborative tools, testing, Blackboard 101 for sort of the basics. We have close to 100 video tutorials if people prefer to learn that way.”

However, Blackboard is not for everyone, Cranos said.

“It’s how you apply technology that matters,” she said. “I think we need to be careful not to assume any one teaching approach or technology fits every class or every professor. At the end of the day, it’s up to each professor to select solutions that fit the course and learning goals, and work for the students.”

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