MCCC has upgraded from Blackboard 8.0 to 9.0.
For students, the Blackboard system is used as a supplement to classes as a learning or communication tool, and is a place to take online courses.
Faculty use Blackboard as a way to easily communicate with students, as well as extend their learning beyond the classroom.
“Blackboard is an instructional tool for faculty, if they choose to use it or not,” said Jeff Peters, coordinator of e-Learning and Instructional Support.
The college decided to make the switch because other colleges and universities had upgraded, and the new version had been out long enough for any bugs in the system to be worked out, Peters said.
Blackboard 9.0 became available for students and faculty for the spring semester.
Trying out the new version during the summer will allow an easier transition because of fewer and smaller classes taking place, Peters said.
The new version has a similar interface to the older version, but a few new tools have been added. Most of the changes will affect faculty more than students.
The new tools include journals and blogs that students and instructors can use.
“The idea behind it is you can extend your classroom,” Peters said.
“You can do things and not be confined to just that time period that you meet face to face, but can have discussions outside of class, can communicate with each other easier outside of class, and can exchange documents more easily outside of class.”
Blackboard is used several ways in and out of the classroom. If faculty members decide to use Blackboard, they can post grades and inform students of any class cancellations or if class will be held in a different room.
Blackboard also can be used for students to turn in assignments.
Peters said the discussion board is a useful tool for students and faculty to post topics for discussion on their own time.
Recently, Blackboard 9.1 came out. The main difference between 9.0 and 9.1 is the addition of wikis, where each class can have their own wiki.
The college plans to upgrade to 9.1 for the Fall semester.
One of the main reasons that upgrading is beneficial is most support and bug fixes are aimed towards the newest versions of systems, so having the latest Blackboard system would ensure that help would be available if something went wrong, Peters said.
The eLearning and Instructional Support department would like to hear feedback from students about their thoughts on Blackboard and what they like best about the system.
Students can send their comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or they can call the student support line at 734-384-4328. The faculty support line is 734-384-4129.