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Bb Administrator System Housekeeping: one administrator’s observations of Bb sites in daily use...

Bb Administrator System Housekeeping: one administrator’s observations of Bb sites in daily use...

One of the ‘unwritten duties’ of the Bb Administrator is keeping an eye on course sites and ensuring that there are no slip-ups, rogue sites, unwanted duplicate sites, abandoned sites etc.etc. On Bb installations with many hundreds of courses, instances of these anomalies can appear on even the most rigourously administered systems. Here in Sunderland we keep an ever-vigilant eye for such oddities and, when they come to light, gently and diplomatically try to put matters right. In such pursuits we have encountered a variety of species of such rogues and now have a practiced eye for identifying them. We are currently writing a taxonomy to fully understand this new phenomena in the science of e-learning.

(Having said all that, I now want to be totally honest with you all and confess that
this scholarly taxonomy is really only a mental list of names we give to sites when we groan and realise that perfection is still a long way off!!)

For everyone who looks after a vast number of Bb sites, the following may be familiar:

‘Marie Celeste’ sites – these sites exist but without any trace of human activity. There is neither a hand at the helm nor crew in the rigging and the passengers’ lounge is always empty.

‘Lord of the Flies’ sites – somehow the students have been enrolled but no staff are running it. (Will a new social order emerge?)

‘Fire Drill’ sites – like classrooms during a fire drill. Although staff are merrily using the sites in their own time, the students are simply not in their seats (ie. haven’t been added by Bb Admin. - oops!)

‘TU’ sites (Tokyo Underground) – their structure and organisation are so complicated they’re easy to get lost in. Chances of finding what you’re looking for? Slim.

‘Grand Central’ sites – like the staion in NY, they have vast numbers of users.
The list of instructors reads like the credits from Ghandi. Is that a printout of the Gradebook or a roll of wallpaper?

‘Departure Lounge’ sites - lots of people in one place but with very little to look at. ie. plenty of users, very little content.

‘Lost Property Office’ sites - those with lots of materials and content but no-one claiming them! (ie. no users)


… ..and the remedy for such strange phenomena? Alas there is no single panacea. The most important thing that anyone new to Bb admin. might draw from this is simply to be observant and develop an awareness that these sites can exist. Armed with this, it’s possible to talk to the relevant teaching teams and ask what their plans are for using Blackboard over a coffee and biscuits. Whether the anomalies have arisen from bureaucratic error or just plain old forgetfulness they can usually be ironed out with a little bit of collaboration. Which takes me neatly on to collaboration….. ah, well, maybe next time.

Gerard Elder
City of Sunderland College

Author: Gerard Elder

23 April 2004

VLE: Blackboard

 


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