Thursday, June 3, 2010


Here is how teaching decisions get made in This Modern Age.

I had a perfectly good discussion board called WebBoard. But it was expensive. And I was the only one using it. So the university discontinued it.

So I went off-campus and started using phpBB. This was a good board, but it was off-campus and I couldn't control its reliability.

So this next semester I'm going to start using BlackBoard to handle discussion and maybe to offer quizzes. Still unsure on that second one.

Already I am seeing the effects, after only one day of use. Any sort of management system, be it Learning Management or Content Management, behaves in a Borg-like fashion. You can't just use this piece or that piece without having other consequences. So you make this adjustment and that accommodation and now you're using even more of it.

Specifically, once I had set up the forum, I had to make it clear to the students that this is the *only* part of the course to be found here in BB. So I had to post an Announcement. To cover bases, I had to post a couple other "not here but over there"-type messages.

But, of course, students will naturally want to check their grades, so now I have to use the grading system provided by BlackBorg. Which means I have to learn it, invest in it, adjust to it. Maybe even tailor assignments to it.

It's the tar-baby of software.

Fall semester is a summer away. I'll be teaching a 100- and a 300-level class, so I'll get the full experience. I'll chronicle my impressions here.

The best way not to be assimilated is to make oneself indigestible to the host.

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