I am a teacher in the district….I do use Blackboard extensively

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2008 at 12:06 am

I am a teacher in the district. I use it extensively and enjoy it’s many functionalities. One thing though, some parents insist on emailing me for updates despite my having everything posted on there. I give them their updates (upcoming tests, projects, recent test/quiz grades, assignments) via email and politely remind them that I do use Blackboard extensively, so I have to say- my work feels a bit redundant.

I also sometimes give an assignment that the kids have to do by accessing the site (watching a video, playing a review “game”, etc.) and find that the kids fall into 3 groups:

1. Those that can access it and do access it at home.
2. Those that had a problem at home, but took me up on my offer to use my classroom computer or a school library computer.
3. Those who don’t get the assignment completed and don’t pursue it further by using a school computer.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s a great thing when it all works and everyone involved uses it to it’s full capacity. If either the teacher or the student falls short of that mark, it’s like anything else- not as useful and effective as it could be.

I, personally, think that it should be required of us to at least post assignments on there as they are assigned. I have kids too and I am often frustrated when I can’t get access to what their are supposed to be doing, in the event that they don’t understand or were out sick.

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  1. Dear Teacher,

    Sometimes parent have to e-mail you for updates as Blackboard is non-functional most of the time. Logins almost never work. The schools need to have a COMPETENT technolgy specialist who can address issues immediately. Parents should have their own access to Blackboard. Most kids don’t want to share their access with their parents. Personally, I’d like to see Blackboard proficiency and use written into the annual assessments that teachers are subjected to. That might improve usage.

    With the said, thank you for being one of the few teachers who is embracing what could be a wonderful system.

    A Parent.

  2. I agree that the Blackboard system is a great idea. However, I think the key phrase here is “when it works”. As a parent trying to help my child get into the Blackboard system on numerous occasions last year, I found the reliability of the system to be awful.

  3. Reliability and parental access are needed.

    Parents have access to the navience system, why not blackboard?

  4. 8:29-
    I am not talking about an email here and there, I am talking about weekly or twice weekly regular updates. Of course, I don’t mind (and encourage!) regular communication via email and phone, especially if there are concerns.
    I think we all seem to agree that there are some bugs to be ironed out. With regards to the parent access, that is an interesting idea. I know that with my own children, I use accessing the site as another opportunity for sharing time and info. My kids sit down at the computer, I ask them to log on and show me what they’re up to in their classes. We get to have many useful conversations about their day and their teachers…it’s like virtually opening up the planner, if you will.

    Great discussion all! Maybe I can suggest (at my next faculty meeting) a focus group on a volunteer basis whereby some teachers and parents can come together, with MIS and have a meaningful discussion or to improve Blackboard and it’s efficacy. Food for thought! Thank you.

  5. Why doesn’t Blackboard work?

    What a shame that taxpayers underwrite such a good idea and then have it fail the teachers students and parents it is meant to serve.

    This is just another example of the incompetence of Cottage Place and its masters, the BOE.

    Yea, yea I know, here we go again criticizing the BOE but hey, it doesn’t work and hasn’t for over a year.

    The criticism is deserved.

  6. i ssupect the NEA is scared of the internet worried someone might learn something and make there bloated education system obselete BTW wheres the guy that refuses to acknowledge the learning power of the internet …?

  7. Re: “Most kids don’t want to share their access with their parents.” – Parent 8:29 PM

    And you allow this?

    Exactly who is the parent in this situation?
    Who is running the show? The parent or the child?

  8. 11:02 Keep the perfect parent attitude.

    The school can give access to parents.I prefer to have my own signon so that it is clear to the teacher that I am the one communicating, and not my son.

    With the navience system the parents and students have different signons. It is not a big deal. Navience is not together time for me and my Junior.

  9. I’m confused…my kids use Blackboard and have never had trouble accessing it, logging on, etc. Some teachers use it more than others. I wish they all would use it more. I also have a college student who uses it a lot and there is a parent access mode that gives parents access to some but not all info.

    The teacher at 8:09 sounds extremely reasonable and I welcome his/her efforts to try and address the issues. And then 10:02 comes along with the unhelpful attitude (and lack of facts). I thought the juxtaposition of those two comments was priceless.

    Actually, there was an article in either the Record or the Times last year about the pros and cons (and yes, there are cons, 11:02) to giving parents full access to all their child’s school records online. Some of the cons were A) encouraging helicopter parent meddling in every minute detail of child’s life, B) removing an opportunity for parent-child communication (why ask “how was your day?” when you can just read about it online?), C) increased parent intrusions into teacher workday (email #432 asking why did my kid get a C and not an A?)…

    But I’d say overall those kinds of concerns could be addressed. Laurie Goodman talked about Dumont’s online system during the election…wonder if she plans to pursue it at all?

  10. Why is it that every time parents want to be more involved they are called “helicopter” parents. Others complain that parents are not involved enough.

    At back to school night all the teachers should be required to explain the extent to which they plan to use blackboard. That may get more of them on task.

  11. Hi. I am the teacher from above. One thing that I noticed is that a computer is not a computer is not a computer. All home computers are not the same. Some have older operating systems and lack certain features (Java, etc…) and not all parents and/or kids have the comfort level needed to troubleshoot. Usually, if a student comes to me or the technical liaison at our school, we can figure out the problem. That being said, every teacher I know that gives an assignment on Blackboard gives ample time for the student to access a computer either in school or at the public library if need be. So an assignment given on Monday might be due Wednesday or Thursday. I have even extended that further if there were extenuating circumstances and a parent let me know that there was trouble. I do not accept a student just telling me, “It didn’t work on my home computer.”
    What kills me sometimes is that I know that these kids are on AIM, Facebook, etc. all the time, and they never seem to have trouble with those sites!

    So—- here’s my advice:
    1. regularly update drivers and software loaded on your home machine
    2. have good antivirus/antispyware software installed and use it often; manually or automatically
    3. talk to your child about not gunking up your machine with frivolous downloads
    4. keep ample supply of paper and cartidges available

    These small steps will go a long way to help us maximize what I am convinced is a useful tool for education and communicating how successful your student is in school.

  12. I am an extremely computer literate parent. My computer, software and hardware, are state of the art. There’s no “gunk” in my hard drive and my security is outstanding.

    My child generally cannot access Blackboard at home or at school as it is HIS ACCOUNT that is messed up. For the past two years, the schools “media specialist” has been trying to rectify the problem to no avail. Apparently, their is a glitch in the system that is associated with his login name which cannot be changed. If the problem persists in September, I will request that we change his computer name and assign him a new account.

    As for a child not wanting his parent to login to his/her Blackboard account — I know that, at times, teachers direct kids to post feedback, commentary or reviews of students work via the Blackboard system. I think this is a great idea but, for my child, he doesn’t want me to read each and every critique that he receives. We’re talking about teenagers here! My student, when he’s able to access the system, always shows me his grades. Assignments and classwork are rarely posted by the teacher so why bother.

  13. 10:22 here for 11:51 AM.

    “The teacher at 8:09 sounds extremely reasonable and I welcome his/her efforts to try and address the issues. And then 10:02 comes along with the unhelpful attitude (and lack of facts). I thought the juxtaposition of those two comments was priceless.”

    Are there no actions or inactions that you wont defend by an inept government organization?

    I think the idea is grand but since we pay for it, why doesn’t it work and why aren’t more teachers using it?

  14. 4:25- they can easily give your child a new username and that will most likely rectify the problem. It sounds like you already have your mind made up not to like the Blackboard platform, though.

  15. 6:32 – I am 4:25. Keep in mind that I am extremely computer literate and a technology lover using systems similar to Blackboard at work. I would LOVE Blackboard IF it worked and the teachers used it. I’ve looked at other schools Blackboard sites and they are wonderful. Hence, the reason I would like widespread Blackboard usage in Ridgewood.

    The “media/technology specialists” at school has been focusing effforts on identifying and fixing the bigger problem with account access than simply fixing the little problem. Each time I speak with the school, I am told “we’re working on it. Have your child write assignments in the organizer and e-mail teachers to ask about grades”. We can only access the system about 1/3 of the time.

    6:32 – Just curious – what is your experience in using Blackboard?

  16. 6:32- I haven’t had any problems accessing it, nor have my children. I access it from both a MACbook and an ancient (6 or 7 year old) PC laptop. My biggest complaint is that there are many teachers who don’t use it. Last year, my 8th grade child didn’t have 1 teacher who used it.

  17. My computer is only a year old and I use it to work from home part time. The only application that we have problems with is Blackboard.

    I can log onto any other site that I need and get the information that I want.

  18. Have you tried the help button on the login page?

  19. This was an interesting, level-headed, and reasonable thread. And I don’t mean to throw a damper on it, I really don’t.

    But please someone tell me why we all put up with teachers who don’t know how to use punctuation properly?

    The original post started with “I am a teacher in the district. I use it extensively and enjoy it’s many functionalities.”

    Does ANYBODY see the punctuation error here? Wouldn’t a self-identified teacher in our district want to take extra care to write properly so as to be taken seriously?

    The answer is it’s probably not a typo. It’s more likely an act of illiteracy.

  20. 6:48- shame on you we have a nice discourse going and you grind it to a halt about a typo sheesh!

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