What is the LAST thing you need during the final weeks of a semester? Yes, allergies. Nothing gets done. I feel like my brain functionality is severely compromised. And I apologize for posting late this week – I blame whatever is making its way through the air-conditioning into my lungs.
My favorite reading from last week’s topic was “Mind over Matter” on Course Management Systems (CMS) and their role in creating effective learning environments. They are useful tools to support the principles of deeper learning. That is, a deeper, more engaged learning experience occurs when learning is social, active, contextual, engaging, and student-owned. Blackboard (BB) can be used to create this type of environment – but only to a certain extent. I have had experience with this platform both as a student and as a TA. As a TA, I found it rather cumbersome to navigate, and it takes quite some time to determine which features are available, which are most useful, and so forth. As a student, I have mostly come to understand that its role is to make information accessible, such as articles, documents, assignments, and to check grades. I have used the discussion board feature in two online courses – with rather unsatisfactory results. I don’t think this format can really be used to trigger discussions among students and instructors. Blogs, for example, are much more engaging, social, student-owned, contextual, and active. BB is clearly instructor-led. And unlike blogs, only temporarily available to the student. Once the semester is over – the content is gone. This is very unfortunate. I would be interested in testing other content-management systems to have a better idea of what else (other than BB) is out there. But, in the end, aren’t instructors typically bound by what the university or at least the department requires or recommends to use…?