Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Possibly the most worrying Tweet ever from an education company (@Blackboard)?

This is possibly one of the most worrying Tweets I have ever seen from an alleged education company:

OK, so I can see an argument for not using technology for technologies sake, but on the other-hand for a company to apparently divorce technology from student success seems to me to be very worrying, and somewhat limiting. What makes students successful is access to skilled teaching staff and great learning resources, and without the good up-to-date technology the staff can't build the learning resources the students need for success.

I have used Blackboard for over 10 years and I think I know the system and understand the technology quite well, and during all that time I would argue that that the underlying system of Blackboard has hardly advanced beyond a simple FTP (file transfer) system with a poorly written web interface. Blackboard will argue that things have advanced, and yet the differences between Blackboard 2004 and Blackboard 2015 are minimal. Everything still takes forever to do on the system as there are too many clicks, and some things, for example assessment, have never really worked (for example, I cannot find away to make assessments secure so that students can't see their marks until I decide to release them). What Blackboard needs to do is to get in touch with technology, and to understand how it can be leveraged to lower the entry barrier for staff to produce great learning tools for the students.

In case you think I am just having a swipe at Blackboard then I am not as most virtual learning environments (VLEs - a terrible phrase that should be dropped) seem to suffer from the same problems, that is, they don't do the simple and required well, and the barrier to entry that staff have to face to use the system is far too high.

Come on Blackboard, get with the technology so that we can improve the student learning experience by producing the learning tools and content that the students need and deserve.

Update - Wednesday December 30, 2015: One thought occurred to me this evening as to how a decent VLE could be built that would meet the needs of the students and the staff and that is to use the Wordpress blogging software as a base. Yes, I know it is a blogging platform, but I have already seen it used as the base for developing online teaching systems through the clever use of Wordpress themes.