Blackboard (www.blackboard.com) is a highly popular learning management system (software designed to deliver, support and manage courses) used to deliver formal online courses. Blackboard's mission is to “enable educational innovations everywhere by connecting people and technology”. In the GO external research, Blackboard was used by larger organizations, in particular by colleges and universities, to deliver a wide variety of accredited online courses.
Blackboard is a full featured learning management system that can be used either to deliver an online course in its entirety or to supplement a traditional face-to-face course. Blackboard has many course content and course management features that make it an extremely effective tool for delivering online learning. While Blackboard is primarily an asynchronous learning management system (i.e. people are not online at the same time), it does also have some synchronous (live) features.
Blackboard features include:
- It offers a well organized and easy to navigate learning environment for most students and instructors
- Course content can include text, audio, photographs, weblinks, PowerPoint presentations, syllabus, etc.
- Threaded discussion boards are available for class interaction
- It is easy to create a “Frequently Asked Questions” section
- Students and instructors can easily share files and other resources with each other
- A live component can be added to the course via Blackboard's live chat feature
- Drop boxes exist so students and instructors can easily track submitted assignments
- There are a variety of assessment tools, including quizzes and tests
- The gradebook allows instructors to mark and track student progress
- The course content can be easily reused for subsequent courses
There is a helpful overview of the features and benefits of Blackboard called “What is Blackboard?” available at: http://blackboardsupport.calpoly.edu/content/about/whatis.html.
By clicking on: http://blackboardsupport.calpoly.edu/content/faculty/Video/
Faculty_Videos/WhyTechnology.html you can access an online presentation called “See How Technology Can Enhance Teaching and Learning”. This presentation will allow you to learn about Blackboard and see for yourself the many features of this fabulous online classroom.
Technology in Action
In partnership with local school districts, the Manitoba Department of Education, Citizenship and Youth uses Blackboard to deliver online high school courses. For more information, please see: www.edu.gov.mb.ca/k12/dl/wbc/index.html.
Ontario's Sault College offers the Teacher of Adults – Literacy Educators Certificate Program online via Blackboard. This accredited program has seven course modules including the Adult Literacy Learner; Assessing and Evaluating Literacy Learning; and Strategies for Literacy and Numeracy Instruction. You can learn more about this course at: www.nald.ca/literacyeducator/.
And you can even go on your own tour of Blackboard! The Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning in Washington, DC provides a sample Blackboard course that walks you through the various features and tools of this learning environment: www.cidd.gwu.edu/bbtour/control/sample.html.
The University of Toronto also has an online Blackboard Tutorial. Be sure to visit this website to get a sense of what a Blackboard session looks like: www.portalinfo.utoronto.ca/Faculty___Staff/Online_Tutorial/Intro.htm.