This Fall St. Mary’s will be piloting a new Blackboard program, Blackboard 9, which will eventually become the Blackboard site used by the entire campus.
The reason that the school will be upgrading their Blackboard system is that the school’s contract with the previous/current system manager expired this past May. “[The expiring of our contract] requires that we create an evaluation and look at our options on continuing afterwards,” said Learning Technology Support Coordinator, Jennifer Wright, “We could possibly have continued with the system that we have but that would not be the system that was going to be supported in the future.” When the older Blackboard edition expired the campus saw this as an opportunity to look into upgrading their system. “The new version has a great deal more features and a lot of advantages over the old system,” said Wright.
The campus will not just be thrown out to deal with the new program – a pilot trial is in place which will allow certain classrooms to utilize the program before it becomes campus-wide. The piolt program is not the only way for faculty to become familiarized with the program. “There are various options for various ways of accessing training throughout this semester and the upcoming semester to make sure that anyone who is using the system has the availability of support in terms of developing a course and then continued support during ongoing courses,” said Wright.
What are the differences in Blackboard 9? There are a variety of features such as blogs, wikis, and journals in the system and there are different grading options. The reason for the change is to adapt the software to the college and making it work efficiently for the classes. By spring 2012 Blackboard 9 will the the only system the college uses.