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Learning in Blackboard

 

picture of campus buildingBlackboard is an online learning platform that is used in higher education. It has a number of tools that faculty and students use to enhance the learning process and increase communication. You will need to make sure that your computer meets certain technical requirements so you can have a successful experience. You may also want to have some technical support contact information on hand.

In most online classes you will be required to interact with your classmates using discussion boards and email. Some instructors use realtime audio and/or video chat rooms that also include a tool for illustration of course content. Other tools include previously recorded video lessons, wiki editors for displaying group content in a webpage format, interactive discussion boards, and a number of other tools for displaying static information such as PDF's, text, and links to outside resources.

Different browsers, like Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari may display some content slightly differently. For example, if your professor posts a video for you to download and you are unable to view it, you may consider trying to view the content using a different browser as the browser you are using may be blocking that content; or the video may display better in a different browser. Further, with online learning it is good practice to keep a copy of all your work until it is graded. Also, keep in mind that online courses have deadlines, so good time management skills are important.

There is a learning curve involved with distance education tools. If you have experience using computers and learning new software, some of it may be intuitive to you. Remain flexible. If you don't immediately understand the content or Blackboard tools, keep trying. The more you interact within Blackboard, the more comfortable you will become. If your computer experience is limited, be patient with yourself as you learn the process. Consider letting your instructor know at the beginning of the semester that you have not used Blackboard before. Definitely complete the Blackboard tutorials.

Etiquette

The same rules that apply to emailing and texting in a professional environment also apply to interacting with your classmates and instructors. Indeed, online learning is quite interactive at times. In fact, the field of Sociology is very engaging; therefore, this program presents a lot of opportunities for seeing new perspectives and hearing other people's opinions. It is always important to remain respectful to your classmates by using good communication such as keeping the tone of your responses neutral or supportive and not typing in all capital letters.

Etiquette also includes not making assumptions that a professor has forgotten about you if the response time is not immediate. As long as the deadline has not passed for a grade to be submitted, your instructor is not required to get back with you right away. Additionally, many instructors have multiple classes that they teach, including both graduate and undergraduate. Some instructors are not physically located at the SHSU campus during the semester and have research endeavors going on simultaneously. It is always good to be mindful of their busy schedules. The same goes for your classmates since the distance learning community often represents students who have many other things going on including full-time work, children and family obligations, or frequent travel. If a deadline for a group assignment is approaching or you have not received a grade yet a week after the deadline, then it will be appropriate to inquire at that time.

Helpful Tips

click here for blackboard homepage screenshotclick here for blackboard video tutorialsBelow is a list of helpful Blackboard tips that you will need to know:

  • When you send an email to one or more people using the Blackboard email function, it goes into their regular SHSU email account. Instructors and your classmates will often use this function. This means that along with checking the Blackboard discussion boards for each class you are enrolled in, you should be regularly checking your SHSU email account to view class related updates or instructor posts.
  • Once you have logged into the Blackboard application for your class, you'll see an extensive navigation bar on the left side of the screen. Make sure you click through every link so you can familiarize yourself with all the content and not miss anything.
  • It is not necessary to print documents out like the syllabus or other course materials. You can store them electronically in a folder using your computer or even an external flash drive that you can buy for less than $10. That said, it is important to stay as organized as possible so try to have good electronic filing practices of both your work and the course content you download including PDF's and MS Word documents. You may also want to back up your files in more than one place.