Blackboard capabilities improve knowledge

Education on Blackboard helps Ferris professors create better learning

Fireside Chat: Dr. Mary Holmes explains Ferris Connect to attendees of the Fireside Chat in FLITE 404. The purpose of the meeting was to increase the understanding of the Blackboard system. Photo By: Eric Trandel | Photographer

Fireside Chat: Dr. Mary Holmes explains Ferris Connect to attendees of the Fireside Chat in FLITE 404. The purpose of the meeting was to increase the understanding of the Blackboard system. Photo By: Eric Trandel | Photographer

The excuse “Blackboard shut down” when trying to submit an assignment will not suffice for tech savvy Ferris State professors.

The Course Activity Overview option gives educators the ability to sort student data in relation to Blackboard access. The internal software program tells professors specifically how much time a student spent completing assigned work on Blackboard.

If a Ferris State student claimed he or she attempted to turn in an assignment, but was booted off the program, the professor will be able to verify the claim.

“Faculty really like to hear this information. They want to help the students. If I have a student who is performing poorly, what do I need to do to fix this?” Dr. Mary Holmes, Ferris’ E-learning systems administrator and Fireside Chat coordinator, said.

Ferris professors learned this ability and other technological principles from weekly installments of Fireside Chats. The event is held on Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. in FLITE 404.

During last week’s meeting, two Ferris State professors were in attendance. On an average weekly basis, the number of attendees does not fluctuate drastically, according to Holmes.

“It expands my horizons to the changes we have been seeing with the Blackboard system. It’s given me a lot of information to make our education process better,” Ferris assistant professor Catherine Archer said.

Holmes claimed there is a direct correlation between students’ time spent on Blackboard and their grade in the specific course. No data was available to substantiate the claim.

Ferris State University uses Blackboard 9.1, which updates the current system whenever new implements are available to foster a better learning environment.

One of the updates includes an Early Warning System; if a student is struggling in a particular class, an alert is sent to the professor indicating the specific grade.

“It’s taught me how to use this tool to better track my students. If I need to send an early warning to catch something in advance, I can do it,” Ferris instructor Linda St. Clair said.

Every August, professors attend orientation sessions to further their knowledge.

“It’s a training issue [professors’ knowledge of Blackboard]; everyone can do the Early Warning System if they knew about it. There is so much for all of us to learn,” Holmes said.

Ferris has used some form of Blackboard since the early 2000s. Holmes believes more professors will understand how to use the full potential of the system, as newer teachers typically stress computer involvement more than others.