Politics & Government Professor on the benefits of Blackboard
Ashley Biser finds herself in a unique position as the only OWU professor to have used all of these Blackboard features:
1. Customized navigation buttons
2. A course banner
3. Uploaded content
5. Discussion forums
7. Grade Center
8. Online assessments
11. Wikis, and
“Many professors use some of them,” says David Soliday, Instructional Technologist, “but she is the only one to try everything, and it is having an impact on her teaching.”
“I use Blackboard to take care of a lot of the nitty-gritty work, such as managing data and getting information to students,” Biser says. “Since I teach my introductory course every semester, the Course Copy feature is extremely useful. At its best, Blackboard allows me to do logistical work outside of class, saving in-class time for more important matters.”
Students always are concerned about how they’re doing in a class, and Biser finds that Blackboard keeps them up to date, which relieves their anxiety. “The Grade Center feature saves me interminable ‘What is my grade?’ questions and allows students to keep track of their assignments and progress.
“Particularly in courses where students have to track how many reflection papers or journal entries they have turned in during the semester, Blackboard helps in making sure they have access to that information without having to ask for it. And making a great deal of information available to students electronically saves time—and paper.”
Biser has used the product to enhance student leadership and accountability. “In my PG 110 class, we do a simulation during which students negotiate to write a constitution,” she explains. “It’s a student-driven exercise, and once the simulation begins, students chair each of the meetings. This experience is invaluable in giving students a chance to take on real leadership roles. In the past, I would have to interrupt to make announcement or deliver feedback. These interruptions took time out of the negotiations and, more importantly, undercut the authority of the chair.
“Now,” Biser continues, “I can let the student chair run the meeting and communicate via Blackboard, so I don’t have to interrupt. We also use the discussion page as a kind of news service. I post news events, and the various factions respond to them with their own media releases. Being able to keep the simulation going over Blackboard is crucial for keeping up the energy and allowing me to share feedback with selected groups of students. Otherwise, I simply wouldn’t have the time for this kind of intensive simulation.”