Proposing a commitment to blackboard.Abstract
Shortly after assuming the role of instructional technologist at Curry College Curry is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Curry offers 20 undergraduate majors as well as three graduate programs. History
The school was founded as the School of Elocution in 1879 by Anna Baright on Boston's Commonwealth Avenue. in Milton, Massachusetts Milton is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States and part of the Greater Boston area. The population was 26,062 at the 2000 census. Milton is the birthplace of Buckminster Fuller and former U.S. President George H. W. Bush. , a few members of the faculty inquired of me ways in which they might provide web access to their courses. At the time, Curry had no means with which to provide such access. Personally I had not worked in an institution that used the technology or the software required to provide on-line access to course materials. I set about to research what methods, equipment, and software existed in order to do so.
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the results of the 2000 National Survey of Information Technology in US Higher Education higher education
Study beyond the level of secondary education. Institutions of higher education include not only colleges and universities but also professional schools in such fields as law, theology, medicine, business, music, and art. , The Campus Computing computing - computer Project "more college courses are using more technology resources." The very interesting statistics reported in the survey speak to the growth in on-line undergraduate applications (69.5%), on-line course catalogs Noun 1. course catalog - a catalog listing the courses offered by a college or university
course catalogue, prospectus
catalog, catalogue - a book or pamphlet containing an enumeration of things; "he found it in the Sears catalog" (83.1%), course reserves (35.5%), and number of institutions that offer one or more online courses (55.5%). "The 2000 Survey includes several questions about the growing role of Course Management Software in instruction. 14.6% of the institutions in the survey report using some type of course management tool in their online offerings. Yet a clear indicator of the growing importance of these products is that almost three fifths (57.9%) of the survey respondents report that their campus has established a single product standard for course management tools." (http://www.campuscomputing.net)
Course management software products exist which remove the need for the user to have programming skills. Through a portal course website, all course materials may be put on a course website easily. The tools available within the software product allow registered students to have access to course communication tools, external links, and documentation. A series of templates can be customized to include course documentation, links from this portal website to other files, and faculty information. This teaching and learning tool enhances the learning experience. This software is developed with ease of use, faculty, and students in mind.
The next step for me was to investigate if course management software would work at Curry College. I attended two regional conferences in the Boston area; one sponsored by Apple, the other sponsored by The College Board. At both events, I was in the company of schools who had known course management portal software Portal Software was founded in 1985 as Portal Information Network, one of the first ISPs in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was founded by John Little. The company offered its own interface through modem access that featured Internet email. products and had adopted one of the two major players. At that time, these would have been WebCT and Blackboard (1) See Blackboard Learning System.
(2) The traditional classroom presentation board that is written on with chalk and erased with a felt pad. Although originally black, "white" boards and colored chalks are also used. . Fortunately both products offered ways to use the product software for demonstration purposes.
I needed to communicate with others on my campus. For this, I wanted to form an informal group of open-minded colleagues from the various functions of the college. To that end, the Library Director, the Webmaster, several faculty members from the Applied Computing Department, and one faculty from Management (one that had initially inquired on this topic), joined me in looking at WebCT and Blackboard.
Next, this informal group participated in a videoconference vid·e·o·con·fer·ence
A teleconference using video technology, such as closed-circuit television.
vid sponsored by Blackboard to demonstrate how Worcester Polytechnic Institute Worcester Polytechnic Institute - (WPI) A well-regarded, small engineering college.
Address: Worcester, MA, USA. in Worcester, Massachusetts uses Blackboard. At this point, the Chief Information Officer (senior-level staff) joined us. This was an important demonstration. WPI WPI - Worcester Polytechnic Institute is a well-respected institution; information they shared with us about the Blackboard product and its use on their campus was valuable. We agree we wanted to focus attention on the Blackboard product.
Promoting the Project
The commitment to Blackboard, a campus portal product, would require a significant investment of support by leaders in the campus community. Issues such as the cost of licensing the course management software, consideration of hardware needs such as a server, consideration of a variety of human needs such as technical support and training all needed to be discussed. Faculty leaders would need to support this implementation.
According to Tom Flynn For the football player of the same name see Tom Flynn (football player).
Thomas Flynn (birth date unknown, died 21 April 1931 at Charters Towers, Queensland) was a cricket Test match umpire. , Webmaster at Stonehill College Stonehill College is a private Roman Catholic college located in North Easton, Massachusetts, United States, founded in 1948. Situated in North Easton, Massachusetts, a suburban community of 23,329 people, Stonehill is located just 22 miles south of Boston on a 375-acre campus, , "Getting faculty to invest the time in web site development is a challenge, a challenge that we know is not going to be overcome without strong internal support and some real incentives for the faculty." (T. Flynn, personal e-mail, February 20, 2001)
When speaking with Cathy Burack at NERCHE NERCHE New England Resource Center for Higher Education , (The New England New England, name applied to the region comprising six states of the NE United States—Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The region is thought to have been so named by Capt. Resource Center for Higher Education) I was told that web-based curriculum materials and related topics were the focus of two think tanks: one by chief academic officers, one by chief student affairs/services officers. What she is hearing is that web-based curriculum materials add in a positive way. There is value in using this technology as a learning tool to supplement the in-class and course curriculum. Also a very important aspect is in how this technology is benefiting various campus relationships. (C. Burack, personal communications, February 7, 2001)
Diaz and Cartnal (1999) relate this quote by J. Blackmore (1996 online), "There are probably as many ways to "teach" as there are to learn. Perhaps the most important thing is to be aware that people do not all see the world in the same way. They may have very different preferences than you for how, when, where, and how often to learn." We do know that various technologies or media have been used for educational delivery over the years. Our challenge at Curry was to seize the opportunity to harness the capabilities of the web. Technology can support and supplement what is good at Curry. Blackboard could foster improved student-faculty relationships with its communication tools. "Even more emphasis should be given to the two "hallmarks" of a Curry education as outlined in the Mission Statement: the respect for the individuality individuality,
n collective characteristics or traits that distinguish one person or thing from all others. of each student, and the developmental approach to learning." (NEASC NEASC New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (Bedford, Massachusetts) , June 24, 1992. p.7)
Curry College has the traditional, full-time, residential college student. In addition, we have the continuing education continuing education: see adult education.
or adult education
Any form of learning provided for adults. In the U.S. the University of Wisconsin was the first academic institution to offer such programs (1904). student who works full time while taking courses part-time on campus or in an off-campus satellite location. We also have the graduate student taking courses with a cohort. As a way to assist our students, Curry College developed a program called PAL (Program for the Advancement of Learning). This program was created over 30 years ago to support and encourage students with specific learning needs. PAL will also provide services for foreign students who have learning difficulties and for whom English is not their native language. Our Essential Skills Center provides free tutoring and support services support services Psychology Non-health care-related ancillary services–eg, transportation, financial aid, support groups, homemaker services, respite services, and other services for the entire student population.
This is Curry College. We considered all constituencies when venturing into this newest curriculum model. Blackboard will help us to address the differing learning styles and needs of our diverse student population by having web-based curriculum materials available to supplement learning any time, anywhere.
"Colleges are feeling pressured to develop Web-based courses using online course tools (online syllabi syl·la·bi
A plural of syllabus. , online gradebooks, bulletin boards, chats etc.). Faculty concerns typify users who want to have the innovations fit the traditional style of teaching (teacher centered)." (Singer, Hall & Upton, 2000). Faculty may not be comfortable using new technology in the classroom. If a faculty member invests time and energy into learning and using technology, there is no guarantee that the technology will not fail. The Internet may go down. The computer may crash. The faculty member will certainly hesitate before investing more time and energy into using the technology.
Perhaps this relates to the speed with which technological innovation has permeated our culture. "It took 30 years to move the overhead from the bowling alley into the classroom." (M. Milliron, 2000). And yet, how relatively short a period of time has passed in which the web has profoundly influenced our culture. It took a longer period of time for the general public to accept and use electricity, the telephone, and the automobile.
Our students use technology and are comfortable with using it. Occasional crashes or down time do not turn them away from using it. We will make sure the students get training on how to use security logins, how to access links and supplemental course materials, and how to use communication tools. We must also offer training for faculty and staff at our College. This training must also take into consideration the range of skills necessary for faculty to appropriately use and feel comfortable with the Blackboard software. Students may take virtual field trips to places they otherwise would not see. Cameras attached to computers in the science labs help to expose students to the minute details they otherwise would not see. A variety of software and adaptive technologies Adaptive technology is the name for products which help people who cannot use regular versions of products, primarily people with physical disabilities such as limitations to vision, hearing, and mobility. provide resources for differently able students to learn along with classmates Classmates can refer to either:
In December 2000, the Blackboard sales representative came on campus to do a demonstration of the product for the senior staff, including the various deans and budget people. These attendees would have the power to approve or disapprove dis·ap·prove
v. dis·ap·proved, dis·ap·prov·ing, dis·ap·proves
1. To have an unfavorable opinion of; condemn.
2. To refuse to approve; reject.
v.intr. a budget recommendation to license the product and purchase the hardware. They must have as much information that could be provided in a brief window of opportunity.
Soon thereafter our Excellence in Teaching Committee hosted a presentation on the Blackboard product at its monthly meeting. This is a forum, which often includes lunch, where ideas, research and writing, and new technologies are presented and shared among the Curry College faculty and community. For several years, Blackboard had offered a free, limited-access web portal See portal. site for educators. Faculty could try out the software and its features without the College having to make any commitments to Blackboard. I had not realized when I began this project, that at least five Curry faculty members were already using Blackboard. While it was a small number, at our small college, it represented enough of a presence to warrant an agenda item at this monthly gathering.
By spring, 2001, there were 55 courses on the free Blackboard course management portal placed by over 30 Curry College faculty members. Curry faculty members used the free service as an on-line course enhancement to provide students with 24-hour on-line course information. The availability of the information supports student success in the classroom. The experience with the technology will reap benefits after graduation in professional areas that require strong skills in technology and resource usage. As an example, I had a student who was unable to attend the first class session when I was teaching at the Plymouth, Massachusetts
The syllabus appears before the text of the opinion. ; access the textbook information, class notes, and homework files. She was caught up and not stressed for the next class. She would have been two weeks behind in her work, felt stressed, and perhaps would have considered dropping the course.
The informal group I mentioned previously now worked with me to conduct faculty "training" sessions. These faculty training sessions for the Blackboard course management portal product were begun by June, 2001. We continued training sessions over the summer. We worked with interested faculty enabling them to feel comfortable with the software tools.
Understanding that this was the faculty summer break, there was a real effort to be flexible and accommodating in the scheduling of these sessions. We made handouts of screen shots, we used a computer lab setting so that each participant could be at a computer and we could then walk the "classes" through the processes involved. We actually worked with real courses being constructed, added real course content, etc. Faculty already using the free Blackboard site assisted in mentoring colleagues by showcasing what they had done. Having ready access to computer labs was invaluable.
Each of the Blackboard course web sites will be secure with a password-driven login Signing in and gaining access to a network server, Web server or other computer system. The process (the noun) is a "login" or "logon," while the act of doing it (the verb) is to "log in" or to "log on. . Students will have one password allowing them access to all courses for which they are registered. The ultimate goal is to link seamlessly in a connected, organized, and professional manner to the Blackboard course sites from the Curry College website.
Curry College has addressed, through capital planning issues of: technology, housing, classroom space, buildings, and grounds. Capital planning would also address the costs of licensing and supporting the course management product, Blackboard. The budget recommendation was made to license the Blackboard product. There are various levels of the Blackboard course management portal software product. The budget request was approved for only level one, which is the entry-level product, as well as any necessary hardware and support required to go live with this product. While it is level one, it is a powerful teaching and learning tool. We are able to provide the portal product that would enable us to have a web presence for our courses. This is a beginning. I am happy with this success.
Blackboard provided the specifications for the hardware Curry needed in-house. It was decided to house the software on site rather than contract with Blackboard to do so. The approval for licensing the software, the purchasing for the server, and the installation of the Blackboard course management portal software product happened in the fall, 2001. Winter Intersession in·ter·ses·sion
The time between two academic sessions or semesters.
inter·ses , 2002, was a perfect time to test the licensed Blackboard software on our own server. There were only a few courses running at that time and any problems could be resolved quickly. Faculty training sessions were held during January registrations. The informal group of colleagues I had worked with now helped me lead a users group.
In the spring, 2002, in order to test on a larger scale, we asked certain faculty members to go "live." These people had used the vendor's free site, had come to at least one training session, and felt they were ready to use Blackboard for their Spring semester se·mes·ter
One of two divisions of 15 to 18 weeks each of an academic year.
[German, from Latin (cursus) s courses. 86 courses by over 30 members (full-time and adjunct) of the faculty were put on the Blackboard server. This represented approximately 25% of the spring semester courses.
To date the Curry College Blackboard Users group has met three times. We have decided it will be important to meet regularly, perhaps once each semester. This is a work in progress. New members join each time we have met. A relationship between the people on campus concerned primarily with academic needs and those primarily concerned with the administrative realities has begun to take shape. Borne out of necessity, care goes into fostering this relationship. Those of us involved speak to each other regularly. Administrative representatives also attend users group meetings.
Communication between the technology administration side of the College and me (and the users group) is vital. This relationship was and continues to be key in resolving user requests, security questions, and dealing in an organized manner with the vendor customer service team.
No extra personnel have been hired. The new duties, which have developed as a result of the software implementation, have been absorbed thus far by those people who had handled similar tasks prior to the software adoption. The human resource factor continues to be an agenda item when the users group meets. Network personnel from the Curry College technology center installed the software and server. The database administrator and I work closely to make changes to the course lists, student users, and faculty users. Only Curry registered students may access our Curry Blackboard server or course sites. Generally we do not allow guests. This could change as time goes on. I attempt to troubleshoot problems that arise relating to relating to relate prep → concernant
relating to relate prep → bezüglich +gen, mit Bezug auf +acc usernames and passwords or problems our instructors may have building their course sites I work with Blackboard to address issues that arise which are beyond my understanding.
We cannot, nor would we want to, force any faculty member to use the software. We are not at the point of having gathered formal data as feedback (from faculty and students) about using the product. However, anecdotally, what we hear is favorable fa·vor·a·ble
1. Advantageous; helpful: favorable winds.
2. Encouraging; propitious: a favorable diagnosis.
3. . Students have 24/7 access to curriculum materials. Students no longer wait for office hours office hours,
n.pl See business hours. to resolve problems and communicate with faculty via the website. Our users group will be developing methods of assessing Blackboard use and its value to the Curry College community.
Diaz, David P. & Cartnal, Ryan B. (1999, Fall). Students' Learning Styles in Two Classes Online Distance Learning and Equivalent On-Campus. College Teaching, 47 (4), 130.
Milliron, Mark. (2000, December 4). The Virtual Learning Future Conference of The College Board, Boston, MA.
NEASC Visiting Team. (1992, June 24). Synopsis A summary; a brief statement, less than the whole.
A synopsis is a condensation of something—for example, a synopsis of a trial record. of Concerns appending the final report, p. 7.
Signer, Barbara; Hall, Clover clover, any plant of the genus Trifolium, leguminous hay and forage plants of the family Leguminosae (pulse family). Most of the species are native to north temperate or subtropical regions, and all the American cultivated forms have been introduced from ; Upton, Julie. (2000, April). A Study of Faculty Concerns and Developmental Use of Web Based Coming from a Web server. See Web application. Course Tools. Paper presented at the Convention of the American Educational Research Association The American Educational Research Association, or AERA, was founded in 1916 as a professional organization representing educational researchers in the United States and around the world. , New Orleans New Orleans (ôr`lēənz –lənz, ôrlēnz`), city (2006 pop. 187,525), coextensive with Orleans parish, SE La., between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, 107 mi (172 km) by water from the river mouth; founded , LA.
Lydia Ann Nelson This article is for Ann Elizabeth Nelson the physicist, not actress Ann Nelson who played Mrs. Berg on Fame (1982 TV series).
Ann Nelson (born 1958) is a particle physicist at the University of Washington. , Curry College, MA
Lydia Ann Nelson, M. Ed., is the Instructional Technologist at Curry College, where she is leading the initiative to have Curry College examine the benefits of course enhancements through the use of course management software.