Blackboard: Phoning It In

WilmU’s Online and Educational Technology staff redesigned an e-learning course to be more efficient and convenient for new students. 

Blackboard is the online learning platform used in all of WilmU’s online and hybrid courses, and to support face-to-face courses. For the past 10 years, DIS 095, WilmU’s Blackboard training course, had been completed by thousands of students and served as the prerequisite course for online and hybrid classes. A traditional e-learning course, DIS 095 was designed to be completed on a traditional desktop computer, and it took the average learner about an hour to complete.  

Times have changed. At the start of the spring 2018 semester, the University switched to the “myWilmU” student information system, and DIS 095 was replaced with a more convenient option. WilmU’s Online and Educational Technology staff created a training course using Articulate Storyline software that can be completed in about 20 minutes on any device, including iPads, tablets or smartphones. 

Now students can enjoy a stress-free, interactive simulation called the “Online Course Orientation,” which teaches them to use the core features of the Blackboard system by using an excellent blend of interactivity and narrative. By following a series of simulations, on-screen callouts, videos and voice narrations, students enjoy a quick and easy way to become competent with tools commonly used in online courses, such as discussion boards and checking grades. On-screen prompts and sequential step-by-step demonstrations show the learner exactly where to click.

In addition to changing the way students learn Blackboard, the training also focuses on requisite skills — those technical tasks most commonly used in online classes. This includes how to analyze a SafeAssign originality report used for research and writing courses. So if a student has a challenge uploading an assignment to Blackboard, for example, he or she can simply note the course announcement posted on the homepage of all online and hybrid courses that will link directly to the Online Course Orientation. 

More than 900 students accessed this training within one semester. And 97 percent of students who completed a post-training survey agreed that it enabled them to perform their online coursework. According to one student, “I found this orientation was relevant to the Blackboard training needs of new WilmU students. I actually wish that it was available when I was a new student.” WU

  

—Adam Voyton