Why I Don’t Use Blackboard
I Do Not Use Blackboard:
I do not use Blackboard for a number of what I feel are very
- I began creating course-related Web pages back in 1995 and have
been hosting those pages on my own Web server since 1996, long before
UC bought and installed their copy of the Blackboard software.
- I am just as human, just as fallible as anyone else, and while I
try not to, I do occasionally make mistakes. By placing my Web pages
online for everyone to see, they are, thereby, subjected to “peer
review” — if someone (faculty at other institutions, etc.) sees a
mistake or has a suggestion to offer, (s)he can send me e-mail. In
contrast, course materials placed in Blackboard are only visible to
the students who are officially enrolled in that class, so a faculty
member could be telling them anything – right or wrong – and never has
- According to US copyright law, everything on the Web is
automatically copyrighted, even if it doesn’t explicitly say so.
Based on a number of things I’ve heard and e-mail messages I’ve
received, it sounds like, in quite a number of cases, Blackboard users
tend to “surf the Web,” gathering other people’s work which they then,
often without asking for the author’s permission, squirrel away in
Blackboard where, once again, no one else ever sees that they have it
- Course materials put on Blackboard disappear at the end of the
quarter and must be reloaded or recreated each time the course is
taught. Course materials are only available to the professor of
record for a particular section of a course. In contrast, by placing
Web pages on a “regular” Web server, they’ll stay there as long as
desired, plus they’re available to be used by all professors and all
students in all sections of that particular course (as well as
students and faculty at other schools).
- By placing Web pages on a “regular” server, I have the freedom and
creativity to design course materials in the way I feel is best,
rather than using someone else’s format.
- By using a “regular” Web server, I have the freedom to not only
create my own cgi scripts, but also tailor them to the course and the
topic being covered. Also, I have the ability to edit the MIME-type
list if a new type is needed. In contrast, I doubt whether the folks
who run the Blackboard server would allow either of those. Additionally,
if something’s not working, I usually have immediate access to the
server to try to fix any problems, so we’re not dependent on waiting
for the techs in charge of Blackboard to troubleshoot problems.
- Because Blackboard is programmed to only allow officially-registered
students to access course materials, it is difficult to grant access
to students whose financial aid is messed up, etc. In contrast, pages
on a “regular” server can be viewed by anyone, anywhere, and in this
way students at many other schools may also benefit from them.
Copyright © 2011 by J. Stein Carter. All rights reserved.
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