You are here: Home >

     Search  Print Send to a friend
  Home   About ELM   Contribute    Subscribe to Newsletter  Contact us    

Featured Articles

Staff Development and Blackboard

(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.

Figure 1

Ensure you have a raft of strategies that cover all four quadrants:

1. Awareness raising - Shallow coverage to large group of staff

• Sharing 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 about Blackboard

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, for example

a. Checklists that question tutors’ teaching and learning strategies

How do you currently tackle differentiation (accessibility etc) in the classroom?
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?”

c. Inspection

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 grade 1 etc.

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 the materials 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 in:-

• Copyright
• Accessibility
• Differentiation
• Information Skills
• Creating interactive materials
• Web Design

Author: Lilian Soon

29 June 2004

VLE: Blackboard



| Disclaimer | Copyright | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Design by GreenDigit