July 17, 2003

The uses of Blackboard

I am very skeptical of Blackboard for a number of reasons, primarily its clunkiness, its unusability in many contexts, and the unfulfilled promises up to now. But I have found a way to use the automatic quiz function intelligently, as a way to push students to read material on-time and at least a little thoughtfully. The quizzes are open-book, which is fine for me, and I tried them as a low-stakes assignment in my masters-level history-of-education class in the spring. This fall, I’ll replace my weekly in-class quizzes with on-line quizzes for the undergraduate social foundations class, which should reduce my in-semester grading duties to the ones with more substantive feedback (writing). I’ll see if I can tweak them during the semester or in the spring to be even more useful, but I’ve learned to try one thing at a time in changing classes that otherwise work well.

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