Are students breaking the Bb habit?

Every semester, students go to Blackboard looking for my class. Of course, my class is not in Blackboard. If you’re one of my online students, it’s in Moodle. Not the college’s Moodle, but my Moodle. If you’re at San Elijo, the class is in a Ning (well, and in the classroom).

Nevertheless, all of us deviants have a Bb class assigned to us, even if it’s not visible to students. We are supposed to create links from there to where we want students to go, acknowledging that students use Bb like a portal. When I chaired the technology committee, I agreed this was a good idea, mostly because I was doing it anyway, so now we’re all supposed to do it.

So every semester, I erase all the Bb menu buttons so students won’t get confused — they can only click on my info page, and it opens in a new window to eject them from Bb.

Over the years, I’ve noticed a number of students always enter their class through Blackboard — they are unaware that the class is actually somewhere else. As I’ve commented elsewhere, even if they know it’s another site, they still call any class website “Blackboard” or “the blackboard”.

Well, this semester I forgot to make the Blackboard shells I’d set up available to students. It was an honest mistake. I did set them up, which takes some time, so obviously I meant to do it. I thought I had done it.

But yesterday I got an email from a student. You see, I have huge wait lists of people wanting to get in to very full classes. So if a student doesn’t “show up” at the site on the first day, I email them. Of course, I have already emailed all students via our enrollment system the week before, pointing them to the right place. This student didn’t get that email, but today got the one where I said I’d have to drop him if he didn’t show.

He wrote me that he went to Blackboard, but the class wasn’t there, so he asked at “registration” and they said wait, it will open. So it wasn’t fair of me to drop him.

Bad on so many levels! Totally understandable that it wouldn’t occur to him the class might be elsewhere, but he asked at “registration”. He obviously hadn’t gone anywhere else at the college’s website — we have many pages for the online class information, all of which are linked properly to my classes. We have a call-in Student Helpdesk. But all he had was my second email, which he happened to discover on the third day of class.

Here’s the strange thing. He was the only one. I swear, I had received only two other emails from students who couldn’t find my class, and that was because they had gone to the college’s Moodle installation instead of mine. This is out of 160 online students!

In other words, 99.38% of students found their class without using Blackboard. Despite this student’s brief distress (don’t worry — I tell them I’m dropping them but I always wait awhile so long as it doesn’t affect their record — he’s fine), that stat is amazing to me. It means they did use the website, or did check their email, or didn’t make assumptions, or just found their way like they would on campus when looking for their classroom. Only one other student had even mentioned the course not being in Blackboard.

There is hope.

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