I am in the snowy frozen north for the next two days at the Blackboard UK users conference in Durham. I am presenting our work on encouraging our first year undergraduates to think about their personal learning environments and how this may have influenced their means of communication with us as instructors on the course.
Abstract: A first year undergraduate IT and numeracy key skills module on Blackboard (v 7.3) delivered to over 200 students over two semesters has made use of innovative online assessments over the last 10 years. The IT section of this module was substantially revised in 2008/9 to assist students with the concepts and competencies of information literacy, ultimately leading towards the construction of a personal learning environment (PLE) and a reflective e-portfolio (Badge et. al. 2009). This was achieved by the introduction of freely available Web 2.0 tools. All the course content is delivered wholly online, including marking (EMCQs, see Cann, 2005, Google Documents, delicious, Google Reader, see Badge et. al. 2009) and feedback (via YouTube videos). A Blackboard discussion board has supported this course as a place for students to ask questions about the content and any administrative details since 2002. For the first time in 2008/9 we introduced Twitter to the course and students were encouraged to use Twitter to ask for help. The discussion board was still available but questions posed here were markedly less than in previous years (~100 messages per year previously, this year, zero). A small cohort of students used Twitter to ask questions about the course, stimulated in part by our study on Twitter and the student experience (Cann et. al. 2009). Now in the second year of using Twitter to support this course, this has become an accepted channel for students to contact the convenor. The discussion board is checked regularly but has not been used at all by students this year. Despite this course requiring students to access Blackboard at a minimum of twice per week, students are still not using it as a communication channel. How does this plethora of parallel communication channels affect the way staff/students will interact with Blackboard in the future? How will adding Google Wave to the mix affect things? Where is Blackboard in the era of the realtime web?
Cann, A., Badge, J., Johnson, S., and Moseley, A. (2009). Twittering the student experience. ALT-N, 17.
Cann, A. (2005). Extended matching sets questions for online numeracy assessments: a case study. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, pages 633-640. Citeulike citation
Badge, J. L., Johnson, S., Scott, J. S., and Cann, A. J. (2009). Encouraging lifelong learning habits in a web 2.0 enabled PLE. In Higher Education Academy Annual Conference. CiteUlike citation