By Amanda Guindon
Communication between students and professors can be incredibly beneficial for all parties involved. Having the ability to ask questions or communicate directly with the professor or even collaborate with other students in the class in a virtual setting allows for a more connected experience both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. Bridgewater State University utilizes the site Blackboard, which I’m sure everyone is very aware of no matter if you like the site or not. While it is not always the easiest to use, the concept of a virtual access point is something that is irrefutably useful, particularly in a college setting.
In my experience, professors can be very picky about if they decide to use Blackboard or not. Some rely heavily on discussion boards, while others only use the grade function, or even just to post readings in Course Content. Some arguably use it too much, while others leave you wishing they used it more. Regardless of opinion, these are a few reasons why sites like Blackboard are extremely useful in the college setting.
- The Grade Function: This is something that I personally feel all professors should use. This function allows professors to enter grades into the online gradebook, further allowing students to view their grades as the professor posts them. I personally have had some professors who use this function, and others who, unfortunately, do not. Being able to see grades throughout the semester eliminates any question of how you are doing in the course and the stress that comes along with it and also prevents an influx of emails to professors regarding grades. This is the one function that I believe is the most beneficial for both students, and professors.
- Course Content: This function is kind of like a Drop Box for any documents that the professors want students to have access to all semester. Professors typically put anything from the syllabus to course readings to assignment information for students to reference. This function can be very beneficial as it, again, prevents an influx of emails to the professor with questions regarding the syllabus or assignments as the professor can upload it directly there. Professors can also put readings there to replace textbook readings, making the class more accessible for students.
- Discussions: While not typically regarded highly by students, discussion boards can actually provide great sources of communication when done correctly. This function allows students to read the opinions of others as well as collaborate on certain ideas and concepts from the class. This is also a place for students to receive feedback from other students, ultimately advancing interpersonal skills and collaborative skills.
While Blackboard may not be the end all be all of online communication between students and professors, it is definitely a good place to start. Allowing for communication between class sessions creates a better learning environment when students are present in the classroom. In the end, consider Blackboard; it may be more beneficial than you might think.