Updates in store for Blackboard

Nisheeka Simmons, Staff Writer

Users of Blackboard Learn can expect to see several changes to the e-Education platform in fall 2013.  The modifications are a part of a one year integration and switch designed by Campus Technology that will make the overall adjustment to the newer system much simpler for everyone involved.

Adopted by Francis Marion University approximately five years ago, Blackboard is commonly known as a website used by the students and faculty to view and organize information pertinent to the classes they may be attending or teaching. John Petrush, Director of User Services and Technology Trainer, explained the problems of the previous system, known as Blackboard 9, and the benefits of the newer one, called Blackboard Test.  Petrush said that one of the main problems that would be fixed is related to the administrative qualities of the platform.

“With the older version students had to create their own account, find the proper course and enroll themselves,” Petrush said.  “This is simple enough if there is only one section of your class being taught, but what about the courses like English 200?  That is a class where single professors teach multiple sections; it would be up to the student to find the correct one. ”

Petrush went on to explain that the majority of the administrative process in Blackboard Test would be taken care of before the users even log in.  Through a partnership with FMU’s registrar’s office, Petrush said, accounts would be created for the users, with their course information already entered.  A user name and password are provided and everything is ready to use when a person logs in.

“Everyone just goes through normal registration and the registrar’s office sends us a copy of the information,” Petrush said. “Every course is created and all of the students and teachers are identified.  All of this is automatically generated into Blackboard test and the process only takes about 30 minutes.”

A bonus of this process, Petrush added, is that students will no longer have to manually change their classes during the drop-add period.  The classes will automatically update when the information is received from the registrar.

According to Petrush, this process also eliminates much of the common issue of username and password loss.  If students forget their password, Petrush said, they would have to come to the Academic Computer Center solve the problem.  Now, students will be able to fix this from their own personal computers.

A point that Petrush wanted to clarify is that the two Blackboards are not completely different systems.

“They are both Blackboard 9.1,” Petrush said. “One just has several updates that the other lacks.”

For more information contact John Petrush at (843) 661-1111.