An uncharacteristically subtle post for me.

25 04 2012

The above is an excerpt from a university-wide report on Blackboard use here at CSU-Pueblo for the Fall 2011 semester that was distributed by e-mail a couple of days ago. As I’ve been working on cultivating a reputation for principled reasonableness around campus, I think all I want to do here is point out that all the things professors use Blackboard for here most (as well as a few of the things that not many people use Blackboard for) can be done for a lot less money than whatever our Blackboard license costs. Sometimes they can be done for no money at all.

That is all.

Update: I got the following e-mail from a technologically savvy friend on campus:

Hmm, you were actually *very* subtle.

For example, the ITC [Instructional Technology Center] counsels faculty to *avoid* using Blackboard for just about all of the things one might want out of a learning management system — blogging, wikis, on-line videos. They suggest instead that one use WordPress or YouTube or suchlike and simply link to that from Blackboard.

So: faculty use Bb *mostly* for things which would be better done on the vanilla WWW, and for the others, we are *told not to use Bb* (because it sucks) (in fact, we are told instead to use free on-line substitutes), by our own ITC.

Pretty much the only thing that people use that is not easier on the vanilla web or from some other provider is the on-line gradebook. And
there are several free, open-source equivalents available….

Did I just kill my reputation for principled reasonableness by posting that?



10 responses

25 04 2012

Clearly they expect their chart to fill you with guilt for not availing yourself of the wonders of Blackboard more aggressively. Some of my colleagues do, which means my students expect me to, which means they routinely lose syllabi, assignment sheets, etc., and then complain that they can’t find them online. When I remind them that there are always extras on my office door, they say they don’t have time to come to my office. (Surprise, surprise.) They also don’t have time to come to my office to talk about the readings and the assignments. I’m sure they’d prefer that I stay online night and day to respond to random chat posts, but I’m afraid I really don’t have that kind of time, and my “employer” certainly doesn’t show any signs of increasing my salary so that I didn’t have to carry so many jobs and might have a little more time to invent surveys and Wikis and run chat rooms. They also don’t supply me with a laptop so that keeping my gradebook on Blackboard is convenient. The problem is, of course, that the administrators fall in love with these programs, buy them, and then get frustrated because we don’t all rush to use them (and, in some cases, can’t even see a reason for using them).
Sorry! I didn’t plan to go on like this! Anyway, thanks for your post; I admire your restraint!

25 04 2012
Jonathan Dresner

I use edublogs (wordpress-based) for most of that, yes.

The only good reason for using a secure LMS, as far as I can tell, is for discussion boards that exclude outsider participation (you can do that in WordPress, but it’s another round of tech support that I could do without), and grade sharing. And I don’t think the first-generation LMS’s like Angel and Blackboard are really secure at this point, so I refuse to use them for grades.

I’m facing a decision point, though. Our new LMS is considerably more able, and there’s going to be a lot of pressure to use it, especially for grades.

26 04 2012
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26 04 2012

Our college uses [Joule] Moodle, and I’d say our statistics wouldn’t be much better than what your chart depicts. We can’t even use the grade book tool – buggy – doesn’t sync with Turnitin …. remind me, why are we using an LMS again?

1 05 2012
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[…] Why do any faculty, particularly those of us teaching face-to-face, need an expensive LMS anyway? Last time I checked, almost nobody on my campus used most Blackboard features. When I started playing around with wikis […]

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