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Blackboard 9.1 brings change to Madison College

Faith Hughes, Clarion Staff Writer
December 7, 2011

With the advent of Blackboard 9.1 on the horizon, many students and staff at Madison College are wondering both what to expect and how the new changes will impact communications, course facilitation, and personal ease-of-use. This new upgrade is set to be in effect for the upcoming 2012 spring semester. It will include advanced social learning and teaching tools for greater expandability and practicality.

Donna Marconnet works in the Truax library and at the student computer help desk. She has been collaborating with the team that is facilitating the changes with the pilot server and getting the transition to Blackboard 9.1 set for the spring semester.

Marconnet said she thinks that there will be positive changes and improvements for students. There will be a drag-and-drop fea- ture and Blackboard will be more customizable.

“It should be an easier interface for students to interact,” Marconnet said. “The user will have more control over what is happen- ing.”

Some of the student-aimed highlights of the Blackboard 9.1 upgrade include Mash-ups, which integrate web 2.0 resources from sites such as YouTube and Flickr. Course wikis, blogs and journals and enhanced group tools will be available as well. All of these changes are intended to promote cooperation and education efforts.

In addition, greater accessibility options are available for those with visual disabilities. To help reinforce user simplicity, the interface will be powered by a “web 2.0 user experience” to facilitate the new, easy-to-use platform.

Instructors will be able to manage their courses better with course files, assessment manager, improved grading and content management module enhancements. These improvements are designed to make uploading to online course shells easy while optimizing accessibility and ease-of-use.

Both students Madison College students and faculty may potentially benefit from the “Blackboard building blocks” integrated with the Blackboard 9.1 upgrade. Blackboard will have enhancements such as the Blackboard Learn Toolbar, NBC News Archives and Echo 360. Echo 360, for example, is a tool that instructors can use to capture course lectures, providing an on-demand solution for their students.

In addition to the new web-based tools Blackboard 9.1 offers, mobile capabilities may be introduced.

Training sessions will be offered for students need help with the new system. In addition, she is working on setting up a non- credit orientation course. These sessions will be offered starting in January.

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