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Faculty of Humanities Teaching & Learning Office

Blackboard organisations to support students at programme, discipline and academic community level

Case study: [Programme space]  MA: DTCE Common Room

School of Environment, Education and Development

Programme director: Drew Whitworth; Distance students support officer: Marilena Aspioti

Key features: Core space for both on-campus and distance learning students, part time and full time. Online induction; expected key skills activities; library tips for distance learners; communications tools support and programme usage guidance (Skype, Adobe Connect, Twitter, Facebook, …); reflective blogs; reflective personal journals; web links.

What were the key motivations for setting up the Blackboard organisation?

At first we did hope it would be a space where all students could mingle, including DL students -- hence our referring to it as ‘The Common Room’. There have been administrative benefits too, particularly with distributing course documentation.

Content/features: what content or features are used? How often is content added? Is this done by staff? students?

We update the documentation space when necessary. Students use the blogs and journals, though largely only because they are prompted to in teaching and (at least indirectly) this work is graded. Some students do blog or keep journals of their own accord, probably about 15-20% of them.

Roles and responsibilities: How many staff are involved in setting up and updating the Blackboard space? Academics/admin staff/GTAs? Are roles determined? Is the space updated regularly?

The Distance Student Support Officer does most of this. I was involved at first and will be working on it again next summer.

How successful do you find it (and how do you determine that)? Have you had any review sessions about it?

Reviews, such as they have been, are in the nature of discussions held in Course Development Teams (CDTs). There will be some revisions to everything over this coming summer: hopefully we’ll be introducing an e-portfolio, and the ‘Key Skills’ content currently on the programme space will be properly integrated into a revised course unit.

Have you had any feedback from individual students or student reps?

Not about this space particularly, no.

What challenges have you found?

None beyond the usual (lack of time/prioritisation of work)