A web enthusiast finds the newest version
of Blackboard has caught up with his needs.
Dr. Lee Silver is a professor of Molecular Biology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. As a scientist, Professor Silver has always been interested in applying the latest technology in both his research and in his classroom. From the very beginning he wanted to eliminate all paper from his classroom but before many of the ubiquitous electronic technologies that we take for granted today were developed, that was not possible. Professor Silver embraced the Internet and the web as soon as it became available. He put all the information about his courses and lectures on the web and planned to do an exam for about 150 students on the web as well. Professor Silver was a leader in applying technology in his classrooms, but it took enormous amounts of effort.
When OIT first announced Blackboard (then called CourseInfo) in 1999, Professor Silver took immediate notice. This was a technology that had the promise to provide him with the classroom technology he’d been seeking. Professor Silver tried this early version of Blackboard – and hated it. It was too primitive for him. Many other faculty adopted Blackboard and used it successfully, but for Dr. Silver it was back to coding HTML and developing his own web site and tools for teaching. One new version of Blackboard after another didn’t tempt Dr. Silver until this fall when he decided to take another look at the latest version of Blackboard. “I realized that it could do everything I wanted to do. Anything I can do on my own [web] site I can do on Blackboard. It has a lot more flexibility now than when we started with Blackboard. It can do even more things than I can do with my own web site.”
With the new version of Blackboard, Professor Silver’s classes are using more technology more effectively than ever before. His classes now routinely include music and videos, online quizzes and exams. He experiments with teaching in a much more interactive way, capturing and sharing student input in real time. His innovations include randomizing the class list to choose the next student to field a question (so don’t try to hide in his classroom) and then recording the response and the grade for it during class.
While Blackboard is just a tool, innovators, even those with high standards for technology such as Professor Silver, have found it effective in their classrooms and beyond. If you aren’t taking advantage of all the features in the latest version of Blackboard, OIT can help you be as pleasantly surprised as Professor Silver.