Center for Faculty Excellence
- What are the teaching and learning benefits of Blackboard?
A powerful educational benefit of Blackboard is its ability to increase Faculty/Cadet and Cadet/Cadet communications. Studies have shown that increased interaction results in better learning. Blackboard tools such as discussion boards, chat rooms, exams, surveys, etc. provide many opportunities for this type of interaction. Another educational benefit of Blackboard is that instructors can set-up courses with content in a variety of formats, from text to video. This enables Cadets with different learning styles the opportunity to view a variety of material and therefore, maximize their learning potential. As a final example (although there are many others), Blackboard greatly reduces time spent on course “administrivia” - copying course materials, answering questions repeatedly, making course announcements, grading multiple choice quizzes, etc.
- Is Blackboard very difficult to learn?
The wonderful thing about Blackboard is that it is a very easy program to learn and to use. If you use email, can find files on your computer, and can browse the Internet, you have all the computer skills you need to use Blackboard.
- Will developing a Blackboard course take a lot of time?
Because Blackboard has so many great features, the amount of time you invest in developing a course in Blackboard is entirely up to you. You may choose to use only a limited number of features in Blackboard, in which case the development time will be minimal. Adding a lot of content or using many features may take more time. However, many Faculty who use Blackboard feel that the investment of time is worth it because Blackboard saves them significant time overall. For example you can very easily place existing content, like syllabi, lecture notes, assignments, etc. in any format (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) in Blackboard for 24/7 Cadet access. This saves you significant time copying materials and makes it easy to continually update documents at your discretion. Other Blackboard features such as the on-line assessment tools can provide significant time savings by auto-grading quizzes and exams.
- Now that Blackboard is being adapted by USMA, am I required to use it in my course?
Blackboard is priority initiative at USMA and a major investment for the Academy. Because of its many benefits, USMA Faculty are strongly encouraged to learn more about Blackboard and become more familiar with its potential as a teaching and learning tool. That said, as with any instructional tool, it is up course instructor to decide if or how they will use Blackboard in their course.
- Will Blackboard replace the instructional methods I have employed so successfully over the years?
Faculty who have used Blackboard have found that using the Blackboard toolset can offer significant educational benefits as well as time savings for both Faculty and Cadets. Because every course and instructional circumstance is unique, some Blackboard features may work well to support existing instructional methods, while other features may not be appropriate. As the course instructor, it is up to you to decide to what extent you would like to use Blackboard. Exploration and experimentation with Blackboard is strongly encouraged. Staff at the Center for Teaching Excellence are available to assist you as you consider how you might use Blackboard in your course.
- Besides the CTE staff, what resources are available to me to assist me in adopting and using Blackboard for my course?
Clicking this link will take you to the Blackboard Resources page on the CFE Web site, where you will find links to instruction sheets, user's manuals, and online tutorials that will help you in activating your Blackboard course from AMS and in creating and managing your course in the Blackboard system. At USMA we are currently running the Blackboard Academic Suite Release 7.3, so any tutorials for this or earlier versions will apply.
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