WebCT migrating to Blackboard CE 8 this fall
The phrase, "Go to the blackboard," has taken on a whole new meaning. Starting this fall, New Mexico State University students will get to use a new and improved WebCT, under the name Blackboard CE 8.
Blackboard will more fully integrate with the student information system and has new features that will assist both faculty and students.
As part of the advantages to the new online system, courses will automatically be created and populated with the faculty assigned to each course and the students registered. Because Blackboard will have a relational database, there will be more reporting capabilities and student records will remain in the course, even if they are deleted from it.
Since January, various faculty members have started to train on and migrate their existing course content into Blackboard courses.
"At this point, more than 150 faculty have received training," said Sharon Lalla, manager of training services with NMSU Training and Development. "We anticipate training at least 500 faculty from the Las Cruces campus. We are also conducting site training at the Albuquerque and Grants sites."
Training sessions are offered frequently to help faculty learn the new features of Blackboard and convert their courses to the new system.
Timothy R. Barnett-Queen, an associate professor in social work, said he has finished basic training on Blackboard and is preparing to convert his courses to the new system.
Although he said he had to unlearn some aspects of WebCT and learn new tools and features, several features are similar to WebCT, only more powerful. Faculty will be able to get feedback and grades to students more quickly, he said, and the whole operation is much smoother and user-friendly.
"The learning experience for students will be enhanced," he said.
Barnett-Queen said he teaches one course completely online and he uses the internet to support other face-to-face classes. He said he is getting a head start on merging his courses to Blackboard so they are ready by the start of the fall semester and suggested that other faculty, who have not already done so, take advantage of the many training sessions available through Training and Development to get them prepared.
About half of all university courses are supported with an online component, said Lalla. In the 2009 spring semester alone, there were 6,160 courses available to students. Of that number, more than 2,800 of those courses used WebCT.
Lalla said she hoped faculty would have between 3,500 and 4,000 courses converted over to the Blackboard system by August, the deadline to migrate courses.
"If you want to get content from any of your WebCT courses in the future, you will want to migrate these courses before the fall," she said.
The Web site, learn.nmsu.edu will replace webct.nmsu.edu starting this fall.
For questions about Blackboard or to sign up for a training session, contact Training Services at (575) 646-5125 or email@example.com. For more information visit http://training.nmsu.edu/registration.
Written by Audry Olmsted.