Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Division of Information Technology
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New Blackboard tools could assist faculty pedagogical goals
Along with UNCP’s upgrade to Blackboard 9.1 in the fall of 2010, DoIT also installed and introduced Wimba Classroom - a Web-based, live virtual classroom supporting multi-way audio, video, application sharing, polling, and content display. We also introduced Wimba Pronto,an academic-centric instant collaboration solution designed to promote learning through group work and academic and administrative help.
Wimba had several early adopters who enjoyed the benefits of these online collaborative tools during the fall semester. One course used Wimba Classroom with students located in China to create an interactive learning experience with faculty and students at UNCP. UNCP will continue to make available Wimba Pronto which automatically connects students and teachers with other Wimba Pronto users enrolled in the same courses.
Due to corporate changes at Blackboard, Wimba Classroom is being merged with Elluminate, a former competing product. The resulting service has been updated and renamed Blackboard Collaborate. According to Blackboard’s blog, Elluminate + Wimba + Blackboard = Blackboard Collaborate. The thought behind this combination is to take the best tools from these leaders in collaboration software and combine them into a product that enhances the educational experience by making a difference in the way teachers communicate and teach, students engage and learn, and community is built and fostered.
Along those lines, DoIT, as well as other technology support staff on campus, will be soon be involved in a two-day, implementation planning workshop with Blackboard Collaborate consultants. The Blackboard Collaborate consultants will be at UNCP and are very interested in faculty input. DoIT will invite early adopters, faculty and other academic leaders to contribute to the initial discussion concerning innovative uses for Collaborate at UNCP. An invitation with more information about access and training will be forthcoming.
Another service installed and introduced along with our Blackboard 9.1 upgrade this past fall is SafeAssign. SafeAssign is a plagiarism detection tool similar to TurnItIn, a tool UNCP has been using for several years. Since SafeAssign functionality is built into Blackboard 9.1 at no additional cost, DoIT hoped this functionality would offer the campus a useful plagiarism tool. The cost for TurnItIn, since it would no long be necessary, could then be used to meet campus budget reductions. At press time, evaluation of the two products continues to determine the more effective tool.
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