Overall Satisfaction with Blackboard
Blackboard was used as an online resource for courses in all departments at the University of Georgia. It served as a tool to disseminate syllabi, course readings, handouts, Power Point slides, notes, and study guides. It also allowed instructors to create discussion boards for students to share their thoughts, questions, and comments regarding course topics. Some instructors used Blackboard as a means for collecting written assignments and administering quizzes. Finally, it served as an online database for grades and course progress. It addressed several problems, including: handing out readings/course packets, administering quizzes, and making sure that students had a safe space for sharing their comments with their peers as well as with their instructors.
- The email service in Blackboard allowed teachers to send group messages to the entire class very easily.
- The discussion board feature of Blackboard helped facilitate group discussion and gave students who may have been shy in class or did not think of a comment in time a place to share their thoughts.
- The grade book feature of Blackboard allowed students to quickly access their progress in the course.
- Posting slides and presentation notes allowed students to come to class more prepared.
- The email service operated only within Blackboard. In order to have messages forwarded out of the system, one needed to change the settings. This led to a number of emails being lost, especially when students were not familiar with the system.
- Posting course readings online could be problematic because students would not take the time to read articles on their computer or devices. Hard copies tended to get better results.
- Discussion boards could sometimes be hard to track. Replies to user comments could get lost in the board, resulting in a lack of response.
- Increased efficiency of student to student interaction as well as student to teacher interaction.
- Increased student comprehension of complex topics through the use of a discussion board which allowed students to clarify issues for one another.
- Blackboard increased student access to relevant course materials at no cost to the student. This provides a nice alternative to costly readers or textbooks.
Blackboard's discussion board and email system is more user friendly than that of Desire2Learn. I found it to be significantly easier to send mass group emails in Blackboard. However, the course content organization of Desire2Learn tends to be more intuitive and easier to navigate. Quizzes and assignment submission are about the same when the two systems are compared. In general appearance, Desire2Learn tends to look better than Blackboard.
Blackboard is particularly well suited for a class that meets in person. When used as a supplement to in-person meetings, Blackboard can be a very strong resource because of the announcement section and the ability to create discussion boards. However, for classes that only hold online meetings, Blackboard sometimes proves lacking because of the inability to add video/audio recordings for lectures. Purely online classes become more like an online reading club than a true class.
There are several aspects of Desire2Learn that outweigh the benefits of using Blackboard. I find that the Desire2Learn system is a bit more user friendly and looks more up-to-date. However, the decision to renew systems is not up to me because the entire University uses the same system. Regardless, I think I would choose Desire2Learn over Blackboard because of its improved user interface.