Reading Lisa’s article and attending the “Interactive Syllabus” workshop really opened my eyes to the inherent pedagogical direction of Blackboard and CMSs in general. Since I have not taught online, I only use a CMS—and I’ve only used Blackboard—for distribution of materials, email, occasional discussion board assignments, and grade posting. Well, now that I write that list, it seems pretty long! So, perhaps my use of BB is more substantial than I’ve realized. I guess what I meant by saying “only” is that I haven’t had a CMS serve as the foundation of any course. I suppose my past students could have passed my class without every signing on to BB, too, which is, of course, not an option with an online class.
One of the main reasons I use BB in my onsite classes is because my students appreciate it. BB serves as a supplement to the class; my students can access documents, view their grades, email one another and me, view my announcements which are usually reminders and tips for upcoming assignments, etc. So, I keep it updated for them, but I understand that when I teach online, I’ll really have to take the time to decide on a CMS as it will function as the classroom, not just a supplement to learning.
I played around with a demo of Moodle and it seems promising. I like the variety of functions, it’s opt-in nature, and that I could have more freedom with the design of the course. I also played around with Ning and planned on using it this semester, only for it to go pay-based right before the start of my class. I’m happy to have a bit more experience with a few CMSs, but I still haven’t decided which would work best for the purpose and goals of my classes.