How To Make the Most of Blackboard

These days, more and more college classes are incorporating online learning environments such as Blackboard Learn, part of the Blackboard application suite. Read on to learn more about how you can use this popular e-learning tool.

Blackboard

A Comprehensive e-Learning Tool

Blackboard, Inc., is a company that produces a wide range of digital learning solutions for both K-12 and higher education. Of the Blackboard suite of applications, which is becoming increasingly common on college campuses, the tool you're most likely to encounter is Blackboard Learn.

Blackboard Learn has two broad functions: It's a course management system and a virtual education environment that allows professors to construct comprehensive online learning communities. Blackboard may be the primary instructional setting for online courses, or an out-of-the-classroom resource for on-campuses courses.

Even though it's just one element of the Blackboard suite, Blackboard Learn is still an incredibly complex application with a wide range of functions. Not all of the Blackboard environments you encounter will avail themselves of every available tool, but here's an overview of some of the main features:

elearning

Course Delivery

Blackboard Learn can be used as a comprehensive virtual classroom. Online students are most likely to encounter the full range of course delivery functions, but many face-to-face courses will also utilize some of these features to create a blended learning environment.

Communication and Collaboration

Blackboard Learn incorporates a variety of tools that allow students to communicate with one another and with professors, both in private one-on-one conversations and group discussions. They also help students share knowledge and collaborate on group projects.

Teaching Tools

Many of the other course delivery functions in Blackboard Learn are hidden to students, but still helping them in their studies. For example, Blackboard includes a 'performance dashboard' that allows instructors track student progress and warns them when students are falling behind. As a result, it's much easier for professors to reach out to students and adapt their instruction to make sure that everyone stays caught up.

Other teaching tools in the Blackboard course delivery system include assessment and grading solutions and plagiarism detectors.

course materials

Content Management

In addition to course delivery, Blackboard provides a range of resources to help professors organize and track course materials, both within a single class and between terms. For students, this means that all of their assignments and related resources are coordinated in one easy-to-use platform. Furthermore, students benefit from instructors' ability to easily adapt course content based on lessons learned from past classes.

e-Portfolios

Blackboard's content management system also allows students to construct electronic portfolios. These may include completed course work, blog entries reflecting on course concepts and other materials that demonstrate student learning and achievement. While some online learning communities require users to turn to outside tools to construct e-portfolios, Blackboard integrates it all in one place.

engaged learning

Community Engagement

One of the most valuable functions of online learning communities is their ability to foster student engagement outside of the traditional classroom. When students can interact with one another and engage with the course material any time, any place, they have a richer experience and gain a deeper understanding of course concepts. Blackboard accomplishes this by providing:

  • 24/7 access to course materials and communication tools
  • Personalized learning environments
  • One-stop access to all the key elements of the learning community

Want to know more about e-learning? Check out yesterday's article on online learning communities.

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