(The following ideas were put together at the staff development breakout
session at the FEBug meeting at Calderdale College on 30 March 2004)
If you want to successfully roll out Blackboard training to staff, you
will need to adopt a raft of strategies targeted at different groups.
One size fits all does not work. Some people only need to be aware of
its existence, while others need to be able to not only upload documents
but also manage students. There are also benefits to be reaped by using
different approaches for awareness raising as opposed to working with
targeted groups. Figure 1 helps us to illustrate the point a bit better.
Ensure you have a raft of strategies that cover all four quadrants:
1. Awareness raising - Shallow coverage to large group of staff
good practice days
• Demonstrations to staff
• In-house training, introductory sessions
Use Blackboard for other staff development like equality practice, health
and safety awareness, Ferl Practitioner’s Programme. The more
tutors who use Blackboard as a student, the more they will become
aware of how
they could employ it with their students.
2. More in-depth training available for everybody
• in-house training, intermediate to advanced
• roving staff development person/s scheduled to be in staff rooms during
week x to show people what more they could do with Blackboard
• Project funding to further develop use of Blackboard that any member
of staff can apply for.
Use of online training or computer-based training to show people how
to do things with Blackboard – viewlets (check for them on google;
there are a lot out there), camtasia, handouts, split screen with instructions
in one window and Blackboard in another. Two monitors would help – make
them available on training machines.
• May be cheaper for tutor to work with someone (web designer or ILT assistant)
who can help them build their resources online.
• Use of a checklist so people are aware of the things they need to learn
3. Targeted introductions
• These people need to understand the concept of Blackboard and be aware
of its uses, but may never actually use it: resource managers,
governors, support staff. Case studies of how tutors use it with students would
be relevant. Demonstration of how a student would access Blackboard
from home and what they would use it for.
Specific curriculum departments – having a course already built
up with resources raises a lot of interest in how they can get
their hands on it.
4. Deep understanding and targeted
Target enthusiasts and teach them everything you can. These people can
roll out training to others, support others, and help to administer
Blackboard in college.
• One to one
• Blackboard user group meetings
Another variable to add to the picture is time. When you first roll out
Blackboard and there are very few courses and resources on it, it helps
to work in quadrants 1 and 4: raise awareness across college and work
hard with enthusiasts to create courses that become good models for
others to look at. Once Blackboard has been populated with quality
courses and has been used by some students, the next phase is to encourage
other tutors to use the courses and resources already on there. Use
enthusiasts from quadrant 4 to promote and mentor. The next batch of
converts may not have the confidence to upload materials but will be
happy to use a pre-built course with students. By this stage, you need
to have considered your policy on sharing courses – do you copy
courses for different tutors? Will this lead to one copy of the course
being more updated than another? Are multiple copies of resources (especially
NLN!) taking up a lot of space on your server?
Changing staff attitudes to Blackboard
Here are some strategies to help you sell the idea of using Blackboard.
To start with, don’t mention Blackboard! Use other approaches,
a. Checklists that question tutors’ teaching
and learning strategies
How do you currently tackle differentiation (accessibility etc) in the
How do you widen participation?
How do you support retention and achievement on the course?
How do you cater to different learning styles?
Then tell them Blackboard can answer solve their problems / add to their
repertoire of tools.
b. Improving your student surveys to capture information that
you can use to support your cause.
Does your student survey ask pertinent questions like
“ Do you feel there are sufficient digital resources to support your learning,
eg web links, interactive learning materials, self-test quizzes?”
“ Do you have the opportunity to access your course materials outside of
college via the Internet?”
Inspectors will question the use of ILT or lack thereof. If it is
deemed to be relevant and you are not using ILT, you may not get your
Blackboard and quality
Blackboard can be a magnifying glass showing up all the faults in all
your current college systems. From administration of students to the
handouts that tutors use in class, nothing escapes the probing eye that
is the setting up of a VLE in college. Suddenly, people question the
spelling on handouts that appear on Blackboard when previously, they
had turned a blind eye to photocopies handed out in a classroom. They
might be using this as an excuse for not setting up a course on Blackboard.
The reverse can be true: you may have an enthusiast who is putting
everything they have ever created on Blackboard and the quality of
is making you cringe! Obviously, all this will make you question your
current quality processes and may lead to further staff development
issues. Finally, be prepared to augment your Blackboard training
with staff development
Creating interactive materials