The Blackboard blunder

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As students of the 21st century we are privileged to learn with such advanced and beneficial technology. Without a doubt, we are utilizing way more technology than our parents ever did. We now have the ability to learn, test and receive grades faster than ever before. However, this does not mean everyone involved with the education process chooses to employ these technical advances.

In particular, I am referring to teachers. As advocates for learning, teachers are encouraged to take advantage of the many online tools to assist students. Here at UIS, we have one of the best and most well-known online learning programs for students and professors. Blackboard is a revolutionary way for teachers to communicate and educate students while outside of the classroom. This easy-to-access system offers a place for educators to upload a syllabus, grades, notes, handouts, contact information, class discussions and countless other applications. This being said – why would a professor choose not to use it?

The answer may be difficult for the fast-paced younger generation to understand. Perhaps professors dislike the use of modern technology and prefer to have students receive and view grades on paper or use a hard copy of a syllabus. After all, this was the way things were done “back in the day.” It is also a lot of time spent on the computer, which is not appealing to some professors. There are so many reasons why one may choose not to put Blackboard to use, but the question remains: Is this lack of Blackboard use hindering some students?

In my experience, yes – it is causing a bit of an issue. I have a few teachers who have yet to do anything with Blackboard. It is frustrating when I go on to check my current grades, and find that I am missing grades from the same two classes every time. I want to know how I am doing in the class and if my level of current effort is corresponding with the marks I am getting. I also do weekly homework checks by going on Blackboard and viewing each class syllabus. I groan inwardly each time I remember I have to go find my hard copy of the syllabi that were not put online. I have to do the same thing if I want to see my professor’s office hours or homework policies.

I secretly applaud the instructors who put notes online or upload study guides or helpful handouts. These are undoubtedly a huge help to students. I love knowing that wherever I am I can use Blackboard through any electronic device with Internet access. I don’t have to keep track of six different syllabi or worry about losing them during breaks at home.

As a generation of students who are driven to rely on computers for research, typing papers and almost everything else, we spend most of our time glued to a screen. We are paying thousands of dollars to be educated at a state university, so why not encourage professors to make the switch to modern technology? It would make my life so much easier if when typing up a paper I could simply open a new tab and consult Blackboard for the paper’s guidelines. Not to mention that the university is already paying for this system so it only makes sense to take advantage of it!

For the money I pay I would like to know my instructors are putting an effort into guiding their students to succeed by providing them the tools they need to continually move forward with their education.

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