Why Use Blackboard?

Introduction Back to Top

For distance learning courses, the primary reason for using Blackboard is fairly straightforward: Blackboard provides multiple features that allow you to conduct your course at a distance. You can use Blackboard to provide course materials to students; to communcate with those students; to hold synchronous (chat) and asynchronous (threaded bulletin-board-like) discussions; to assess student learning via quizzes, exams, graded assignments, etc.; to post student grades during and at the end of the course, and so on.

All those reasons apply to using Blackboard for traditional (that is, face-to-face) classes, although the benefits are less immediately obvious to those who haven't used Blackboard before. In order to help faculty understand how Blackboard can enhance their face-to-face courses, we'll organize this tutorial around a list of teaching (or other course-related) objectives, which can be fulfilled using particular features of Blackboard. Please note that some of the reasons for using Blackboard listed below link to the same Web page, since the needs are related. All the links below open a new browser window. Once you read the sub-page, you can close out that page to return to this summary document.

Content Management Back to Top

  • I want to put my course materials up on the Web, so students have access to those materials 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (assuming they have an Internet connection).
    arrow Course Document Repository
  • I don't want to hear another student say, "I'm sorry, I lost my copy of the syllabus. What was the reading for today?"
    arrow Course Document Repository
  • I want my students to listen to my lectures, rather than frantically trying to write down everything I say. I'd like somewhere to archive my lecture outlines or notes so students can read them later.
    arrow Lecture Archive
  • My students find the most bizarre "readings" on the Web that they mistakenly believe are authoritative. I'd prefer to give my students a list of Web resources to use - ones that I've pre-screened.
    arrow External Links

Class Discussions and Student Engagement with Course Material Back to Top

  • I'd like to know how my students are engaging with the course readings: what they find interesting, what they're understanding, and what they're misunderstanding.
    arrow Discussion Board Forum
  • I want to increase the likelihood that my students are actually doing the reading for the course.
    arrow Discussion Board Forum
  • I know there are a bunch of students in the class who are not participating in class discussions, but who have interesting things to say about the readings. I want to learn what they are thinking.
    arrow Forum Participation
  • I want to increase the breadth of students engaging in class discussions, along with the depth of what they contribute to those discussions.
    arrow Forum Participation
  • I'd like to invite an outside expert to participate in our discussions.
    arrow Other Participants

Assessment of Student Learning and Student Self-Assessment Back to Top

  • I have a fairly large class, and I give frequent midterms/exams, especially multiple-choice ones. Grading those exams is time-consuming. I wish I had someone to grade the exams for me.
    arrow Online Exams
  • I find it annoying sometimes to keep track of student essay submissions. It's hard to remember when students submitted their essays, if they submitted the work on time, and even where I put the copies of all those essays. It would be nice if something could help me manage that process more efficiently.
    arrow Assignment Manager
  • I'd like my students to be able to assess their understanding of the material *before* their actual exam.
    arrow Online Exams

Communication with Students Back to Top

  • I want to remind students of important, upcoming deadlines, but sometimes I forget to mention them in class.
    arrow Announcements
  • Sometimes, there are co-curricular events occuring that are related to our course, and I want to point them out to my students.
    arrow Announcements
  • I want to send crucial information to all students in my course or to targeted groups of students.
    arrow E-Mail Feature
  • I often wonder how students are reacting to the course. I wish I had an efficent way to solicit feedback from students about how the course is going.
    arrow Surveys

Student Collaboration Back to Top

  • I divide my students into peer-editing groups, and it's always a pain for them to share drafts with one another.
    arrow Groups in Blackboard
  • I often assign collaborative assignments, and I want to make it easier for my students to work together as a group.
    arrow Groups in Blackboard

Grade Information Back to Top

  • I find it a pain to keep track of student grades, and the end-of-semester grade calculations take forever. I wish I had a program to do much of that work for me.
    arrow Online Grade Center
  • Students don't always to a good job keeping track of their grades in the course, and at the end of the course, they want to know their grades immediately. I'd like to make the students' grade information available to them, but in a secure way.
    arrow Online Grade Center

Written by Leslie Harris, originally for the Office of Instructional Technology at the University of Scranton. Revised with permission and adapted to the Bucknell University Blackboard environment. Last revised August 14, 2008.  Please send questions or comments to itec@bucknell.edu.