iLearn erases campus Blackboard
New online teaching tool cementing hold
September 6, 2007 1:10 PM
SF State has eliminated the use of Blackboard and moved on to iLearn, a program that will make online learning easier for students and teachers for future semesters.
The decision to move to iLearn was made in December after two years of exploring different Learning Management Systems (LMS) for SF State. Educational Technology Advisory Committee (ETAC), a faculty focus group, made the decision to solely use iLearn. After almost ten years of being with Blackboard, the contract that SF State had with the company expired in June 30, 2007, which gave them an opportunity to move in a different direction.
iLearn is free, based on open source code called Moodle that is modified for campus use whereas Blackboard is a commercial product licensed and hosted off campus for a cost.
“The benefits of iLearn has to do with teaching, learning, and technology management," said Kelly. "Teachers are able to set up courses in a third of the time that they used to with Blackboard.”
SF State's Academic Technology unit also ran a two-and-a-half year study where they ran the programs concurrently to determine which would have better results. In that period, almost 20,000 students were using iLearn. Blackboard received more negative responses than iLearn. The program also helped people who had disabilities due to its simpler production.
Kelly believes that the change will be more beneficial because it is run by SF State rather than an outside company like Blackboard. “We don’t have to wait for a company to solve the problem which was an issue with Blackboard," he said. "It’s faster to solve this way.”
Many students had difficulties with Blackboard because it was not as organized as they would have wanted it to be.
“Blackboard was more confusing due to the layout of the web page than iLearn is,” said sophomore Angela Garcia, 19.“ I like it better because its easier to check assignments and grades."
Kelly said that iLearn is set up in a way that is more understandable than the former system.
“[iLearn] is more learning-centered than tool-centered," he said. "Blackboard had one area for quizzes or Powerpoints, but it was not connected, whereas its all right there with iLearn.”
As is the case for many new changes, there are people with complaints and compliments.
History professor Dr. Marion Gerlind had problems trying to get her students to use iLearn for mechanical reasons. “I believe that iLearn is a useful program in general, it can benefit both students and teachers in facilitating communication and sharing information,” she said.
“However," Gerlind added, "I was not able to use iLearn because [the] course was in History and cross-listed with Jewish Studies. I think iLearn could be improved to serve cross-listed courses.”
French professor Berenice Le Marchand took the faculty training course called "Getting Started" in late July. At the workshop she learned how to do the basic works and feels confident that it will be successful in the courses.
"I learned how to do so much, even though I am a little nervous," she said. "I must have not been paying attention on how to do the grades or something because that is the only thing that I have not learned to do."
According to Kelly, with any new transition comes both positive and negative responses. Fortunately, more people have expressed their happiness rather than displeasure over the new program. “It’s time saving and flexible which really excites [these] people who use iLearn.”
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University