Blackboard Rant

You know, when I remember this blog, I get a feeling akin to the feeling I get when I realize I’ve left clothes in the washer for too long.

But I’ve promised a blackboard rant in the header, so that’s what you’ll get. I just spent five hours this morning trying to get all the materials for my lecture course uploaded. I didn’t even get to the grading portion of things, which is its own fresh hell. It’s clunky, it’s ugly, and now all my hard work is locked up for eternity and probably not even that accessible to me beyond this year. Not to mention the fact that the only browser it seems to work with is Firefox (learned after 30 minutes of trial and error with Chrome and Safari, during which all my content appeared to, well, disappear).

What a waste of time for everyone involved! And now my students will have to figure out how to navigate its clunky, Soviet-era architecture, and they will curse the day I was born.

I’m working on a game studies syllabus for the winter quarter here and have decided to only use materials that are open access in order to avoid Blackboard, but I’ve been told by the university that students WILL HAVE TO USE FAKE NAMES in order to avoid violating FERPA. So one of the purposes of the blog is to put students into conversation with potential employers and other scholars and they can’t even use their real name on the blog (which could also help direct people to students’ websites and media productions). And who was the genius who thought that videotaping a powerpoint of instructions would be helpful for users?

Monopoly ownership of course management software hurts us all! Where’s feminist hulk when you need her to smash the phallocentric logic of Blackboard?

And btw, here’s a copy of my syllabus, which that hoarding dragon Blackboard hides from view.

GM Syllabus Fall 2010

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5 responses to “Blackboard Rant

  1. I, too, hate Blackboard. It’s ugly and annoying, though when used with Firefox, is at least consistent in its weaknesses as opposed to being all over the place with Chrome.

    Have you seen this? http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:COB4uQSmx4AJ:www.lib.ncsu.edu/blogs/ferpaform.doc+FERPA+blog&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    I know of profs and TAs at other universities who require student participation (with names!) on blogs and Twitter and maybe this is how they get around the restrictions?

  2. Oh Carol, I feel your pain! Been wrestling with BB for the past 48 hours. I usually put my course materials up on my website and password protect the journal articles, but I’ve been told that copyright issues (thank you DMCA) compel universities to insist that faculty use “approved” firewalls and course management software, such as BB. Whenever I login, it feels like the internet circa 2002. Ugly and clunky, indeed!

    If I could design all of my classes to only include open access, copyfree materials, I would do it in a nanosecond.

  3. Hmm who told you that students will have to use fake names? I’m hoping you just got some bad info.

    For instance, check out one of the UO’s WordPress Multi-User pilot blogs: http://ufolio.uoregon.edu/ba352f09/

    In the right sidebar, under ‘Contributors’: those are real people, and their real names.

  4. thanks for posting your awesome syllabus! readings look like a lot of fun!

  5. Screw BB, upload whatever files you want to disseminate to Google Docs and make your students get a Google account 😉

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