Blackboard receives several new features

The new Blackboad updates include new look to the homepage.

Special to the Chart

The new Blackboad updates include new look to the homepage.

Students and faculty can now enjoy a new Blackboard.

During the winter break the Blackboard platform was upgraded from the Basic to the Enterprise system. The new Blackboard system offers greater capacity as well as new features for students and instructors.

“What it really amounts to is it’s our Distance program was getting so large that the database wasn’t able to keep up,” said Dr. Jack Spurlin, vice president for Lifelong Learning.

On campus, there are nearly 200 classes that are strictly Internet-based. There are also about 500 classes that use Blackboard.

“It was growing so quickly and so large we had to do something,” Spurlin said.

There are a number of new features associated with the new system.

“One of the new features it gives instructors is a feature to use called adaptive release,” said Betty Baker, instructional technologist for the Internet Courses Division of Lifelong Learning.

An instructor can set up readings and quizzes so the students have to perform well before moving on. For example, a student may have to read chapter one and then take a quiz on that chapter. The student may have to reach a certain score on the quiz before being able to read chapter two.

The Dashboard function can also allow instructors to view student activity.

“So if a student comes in and tells a professor that they were there for 30 minutes and can’t figure it out they’ll be able to see just how many times that student was in there and get an idea,” Spurlin said.

James Gray, professor of business administration said he enjoys the new features.

“I think the thing that excites me, it allows us to stay on the leading edge of what we’re doing in the classroom, give you a better handle to monitor what is happening with the student,” Gray said. “It gives you a better way to help the students. It gives you a chance to give a student more individualized attention.”

Another feature of the new system is its dual-server configuration. This allows for system redundancy. If one of the servers should break down, the other server will be able to handle the load. Spurlin said the Blackboard system should never be down for longer than 30 minutes.

“I appreciate Central Administration for giving us to the resources to get the job done,” Gray said. “In my opinion it gives faculty the ability to do what they need to do to teach the classes online.”