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Blackboard Adding Value to Staff Development

Blackboard Adding Value to Staff Development

The Belfast Institute’s staff development service has been keen to ensure all staff are comfortable with new technologies to remove barriers to learning. The use of Blackboard has been a strategic tool in helping to achieve this. We accept the premise that staff can be helped to grasp such benefits if they can also experience Blackboard from a student’s perspective.

One of the processes we have used to build capacity of use by staff was the conscious decision to offer on-line staff development courses through Blackboard.

To this end staff development commissioned staff to design appropriate on-line courses that could be added to its staff development portfolio. This was achieved through a project management format with an agreed subject area e.g. inclusive learning, staff induction, equal opportunities, languages’ resources support, and IT training. Funding was made available to support such things as additional hours or cover costs to help the authors complete the relevant course, author material and even research content where appropriate.

This is seen as a strategic investment aimed at showing our commitment to embedding this method of learning, and not a burden. Senior management, through staff development, are prepared to “put their money where their strategic mouth is” so to speak. Organisations need to see such costs as investments and not debits.

As a result we have developed a number of courses – solely for the use of staff. These are not necessarily all singing and dancing showcases, or aimed at showing how technically gifted the course designer is, but honest support tools that offer both practical information and guidance to staff as well as some awareness of how Blackboard can be used – especially if they are not currently using it with students.

It also reinforces a misconception at times that Blackboard is only for use by students. We feel it has a part to play in how we communicate, offer support, educate and illuminate in other parts of our educational community that is the Belfast Institute.

I wish to offer guest access, as a practical way of sharing ideas, to a few of our staff development courses. Perhaps this can also facilitate practical dialogue between our staff and peers in other FE colleges that can bring additional ideas to the fore in how best we can all enhance our collective and personal use of Blackboard.

If you feel you would like to avail of this invite please email me at indicating which course you would like to see from the list below. I will facilitate access, for a limited period, and introduce you to the course designer to explore issues, answer questions, receive feedback on their work even etc..

List of Courses

  • Academic Staff Induction
  • Certificate in the Use of ICT in Teaching and Learning
  • Equality Awareness & Section 75
  • Language Teacher Resources
  • NIOCN Level 2/Level 3 Including People in Mainstream

H McCarry
Head of Staff Development
Belfast Institute of F&HE

Author: Harry McCarry

23 April 2004

VLE: Blackboard



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