IvyLee Rosario – News Writer –
The new blackboard learn system is taking over campus as the university switches over from its old learning program elearning Vista. Blackboard Learn offers most of the same capabilities of the Vista system with upgrades that allow for easier use for professors and students.
Karen Musmanno, the Blackboard Learn tech administrator for Southern, said that the new system offers many improvements from the Vista learning system that was once used before.
“Vista has come to the end of its life cycle. Now there is a newer, better system available which is an upgrade with a different name,” said Musmanno.
The new Blackboard Learn system was first offered this year with the option of professors switching from Vista in the fall semester, or waiting till spring to switch over entirely.
“I figured I would switch now because in the spring I would have to switch anyway,” said Professor Frank Harris III, Journalism Department Chair. “At least if I switch over to BB9 [blackboard nine] now, then I could get use to the new program.”
Blackboard offers many of the same features as the Vista program including email, class assignments displayed for the student, announcements and contact tools to interact with classmates and the professors. Although many of the features are similar, the new Blackboard has major upgrades especially when it comes to communication within the class.
“It offers wikis, which is a way to set up a students documents or pages, and this allows them to edit simultaneously with each other. Before, changes were done through email so now you can do it online and the students can see who made what changes to the assignments or who added something,” said Musmanno.
The Blackboard Learn system has a lot of similarities and as well as differences from Vista, but the real question is if it will be easy enough to get used to.
“I prefer using Vista, but I think that’s because I’m used to it. The new blackboard doesn’t seem too bad, I think I just need to get used to it; they both serve their purpose,” said Nicole Andrzejewski, 20, a junior education major. “I have one class that uses Vista and one that uses Blackboard so at least it’ll give me a chance to learn how to use the new system better.”
When it comes to the use by professors, they are not having the easiest time with the system.
“As an instructor they told us that Vista could migrate to BB9, which is true, but not everything comes out perfectly. Most of the quizzes I use translate over but they did not show up in the correct format,” said Harris. “I basically had to re-do them because the coding is different. Fixing the issue wasn’t bad but the professors really need to double check before giving the work out to their students.”
In addition to the upgrades that the new Blackboard offers, there is also a mobile component to the new system. Vista was not capable of being used through a smart device, said Musmanno, but now Blackboard can be connected to a mobile device so students can gain access on the go.
With a new system unfamiliar to both students and faculty, Southern has also made another change: a help desk. Starting on September 17, there will be a live help desk that will be dedicated to Blackboard support. This will guarantee the students get the help that they need when it comes to the new system.
“All in all it is still an excellent tool for teaching. BB9 utilizes the information for quizzes, tests, videos, and even online classes,” said Harris. “It is just the matter of getting used to the change.”