Blackboard Has Its Limits
Published: Friday, October 5, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 5, 2012 02:10
The university solicited student feedback Tuesday for ways to improve Blackboard. Although the website has vast capabilities, its effectiveness is limited. In fact, when discussion boards are used as a substitute, or even a supplement, to classroom conversations, Blackboard can become a detriment to the learning experience.
The extent of Blackboard’s role in Georgetown courses should remain limited, serving only as a tool for basic functions such as delivering announcements, providing an assignment drop box and making documents and other course content accessible.
Professors should not use Blackboard discussion boards as an alternative to classroom discourse. By deferring to an online platform in lieu of personal interactions, the depth of dialogue almost always suffers. Internet engagement is unwieldy, and the back-and-forth of true discussion is often lost. Online contributions almost always devolve to the bare minimum. Let’s be honest: The pressure of in-person judgment and rebuttal is critical to the rigor of participation.
Today’s standards for higher education require the usage of online teaching tools, including Blackboard. Considering the goal stated in Chief Information Officer Lisa Davis’ message to students — “to make sure you have an effective digital learning tool that you love to use” — it’s safe to say that administrators are open to reforming Georgetown’s use of Blackboard. They should do so cautiously.
When critical components of the classroom get outsourced online to websites like Blackboard, the Georgetown education is not expanded, but cheapened.