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April 29, 2008

Students Provide Insight Through Fall Blackboard Survey

As we've done in the past, OIT again conducted it's Undergraduate student survey in Fall 2007 with 759 students participating. The survey was divided into several sections including general demographics, an open-ended section for students to recommend instructors that they perceive to be strong users of BlackBoard, tool usage and functionality, and suggestions for improvements.

The most original comments were received when students were asked to recommend an instructor who they viewed as a strong user of Blackboard. Respondents listed numerous faculty members with the following faculty receiving the highest number of positive comments:

  • Phil Sokolove (Biology)

  • Lili Cui (Physics)

  • Clayton Laurie (History)

  • Tara Carpenter (Chemistry)

  • Eileen O’Brien (Psychology)

Lili Cui and Clayton Laurie have also been highlighted in the Interviews section of the Blackboard Best Practices site as faculty who use Blackboard well.

Students reported the most frequently used tools in Blackboard included:

  • Posting Course Content (91%)

  • Announcements (80%)

  • E-mail (54%)

  • Discussion boards (47%)

Major advantages to the use of Blackboard were:
  • 24/7 access to course content (78%)

  • Prompt visibility of posted grades (56%)

The biggest disadvantage to using Blackboard was the reliance on technology (53%) and the most needed improvements were server reliability and performance (59% combined). Overall, the respondents scored faculty as “Good” (59%) when it came to the use of Blackboard.

Students provided a number of suggestions for improving Blackboard including:

  • More online student help

  • Mandatory usage of Blackboard for all faculty

  • Improved design and functionality

  • Improve performance and reliability

Respondents provided a number of suggestions in how to improve Blackboard that included providing more online student help and mandatory usage of Blackboard for all faculty. The respondents overwhelmingly supported Blackboard as a great tool despite its occasional problems. Other input included the suggestion for Blackboard.com to improve its design and functionality and the most received comment was the need to improve performance and reliability. Respondents noted that the system always seems to be down.

From this sampling of undergraduate students, it appears that Blackboard is perceived as an asset to the educational process at UMBC. Faculty that incorporated the use of Blackboard into the classroom setting received appreciation from undergraduate students. OIT needs to continue to address issues that impact usage in order to increase end-user acceptance of this online course management tool.

Complete survey results can be found online.

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