Surfin Like Crazy

I just realized that I should put a new post on MY blog, instead of checking so many others out.  In the last week, I have increased my tech. literacy levels a great deal.  I now have and am actively using iGoogle, Reader, WordPress and have subscribed to a whole bunch of Blogs.  I also did my first You Tube upload.  It has been busy, but kind of fun.

I believe I need to spend some time on my blog, so I hope it can look and offer what many other blogs do.  The amount of information on these blogs is astounding.  I have been trying to figure out how to do a basic implementation in my classes.  I think I will start with the new semester.  Ideas for starting points are welcome.

 Does anyone have opinions or tips on Blackboard?   I have used it a little, but am thinking of switching to a Blog for discussion forums especially.  Comments?  Pro’s/Con’s.

  1. From a student perspective, blackboard is a major pain. I don’t like it. From a teacher’s perspective, I have never used blackboard, but I have used class blogs. At first, I had all the students have their own blog, but that gets a little unwieldy. This year, we haven’t started doing blogs, yet, but we do have a wiki, and that is good. For a blog, I would suggest having one blog where all the students leave a comment on the topic, then check back every once in a while. That way, you can subscribe to the comments, and “grade” them that way. The other benefit is that all the comments are in one place with only one click. I feel that it is easier to scroll up and down rather than click next, back, or anything else.

    If it is easy and the interface doesn’t get in the way of making comments, then the students will probably enjoy it more. For example, if you were to use typepad, and require word verification after each comment, your students might commit suicide. The word verification is on a new page and I have entered the “wrong” verification on many occasions (the 6s and 8s look awful similar to each other). In addition, I have left a comment and thought it was done (because it takes a long time to load the WV page) only to go back to that tab hours later and realize that my comment still was not saved. I think Blackboard would be similarly frustrating. Good Luck.

  2. I think before I could give an answer, Dave, I’d need to find out what your needs are. What are your objectives for the class? Do you want to do online testing and organization of instructional content? Are you wanting to promote discussion/interaction between participants. I suppose the basic question is content or communication or collaboration. The kind of tool depends on what you want to achieve.

    My opinion would be to avoid Blackboard if you do need a full blown learning content management system, and take a look at Moodle as an alternative –

  3. I second Moodle over Blackboard for “schooly” work – quizzes, assignments, etc – and also second Rob’s observation that different tools have different strengths and weaknesses for different purposes.

    Blogs are much more open and authentic, and also easier to organize your learning over the long term (via tags and categories) than Blackboard or Moodle. Wikis are another tool with strengths neither blogs nor CMS’s have.

    But you learn all this stuff by doing, reflecting, trying, erring, and tweaking.

    It’s all explosively mind-expanding and fun at the same time.

    (And have you entered the depths of Twitter yet? If so, I’m cburell, and happy to add you to my network.)

    Enjoy the ride. We have no idea where it will lead next.

  4. I agree with Rob, more analysis is needed. My instructors only have a state-supported Blackboard system for an LMS, so I encourage them to use it, until we adopt our own alternative. However, one of the key reasons I do this, is to offer a standard starting place for students. I typically will then advocate for more open tools depending on the course needs. One thing to consider is that you can use Google Reader to create gadgets/widgets you can paste in Bb. Here’s one of my quick tutorials. Always consider the instructional purpose before selecting the tool.

  5. Like Rob, I think it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish, Dave. Blackboard, or any CMS for that matter, may be a huge answer to a small need. One thing to consider will be how public your groups want to make their conversations. Some folks are still a little skittish, so you might want to start out with a more private environment, and then coax them out into the open.
    Just a thought.

    • Dave
    • January 15th, 2008

    Thx. Rob.

    For right now I was thinking as a communication/discussion tool. I thought of using WordPress to start a Law 30 Blog. I have done this in Blackboard and worked fine. Blackboard allows one to put together a whole course, but can be more tedious at start up. I may just have to start a blog with topics and go from there.

    • Shaun Loeppky
    • January 18th, 2008

    I agree with you Dave. A teacher directed blog may be that effective first step towards the discovery needs that other online tools may offer to meet your objectives. And is it not incredible all the support that educators and others bring to the blogosphere to help you find those online tools?

    • coreyterry
    • January 21st, 2008

    Hi Dave
    Thanks for taking time to read my blog. I just finished reading your’s. I can’t offer any help with blackboard but I have seen used once before – looks very good!

  6. As an aside, our school division, Prairie South, has pretty much abandoned BB because of its lack of support from the ministry. We’ve installed Moodle and it’s been very reliable and easy to maintain.

    The thing that irks me about BB is that it’s designed to be private. Fundamentally, I have issues with “walled gardens” Moodle makes it somewhat easy to open things up, but as Rick said, it may be overkill.

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