EDITORIAL: Blackboard issues chalked up to learning curve

For most students and staff, including the majority of our editorial staff, Blackboard represents a new and more efficient tool we can use to more conveniently go about our daily campus lives.

Buffalo State has made a concerted effort to improve the ease in which students can communicate with professors and navigate the rigors of academia.

But, for some, the transition from Angel to Blackboard hasn’t been so seamless.

Buffalo State took measures to introduce its professors and adjuncts to the inner workings of the new interface well in advance of its launch. But many professors still do not understand how to maximize its usefulness, and that seems to be the root of the issues.

As a result, students have been left searching for answers to questions that have fallen on deaf ears.

In an article published in this paper last semester, students were mostly in favor of the switch but some questioned the necessity of the change.

Angel was outdated (and discontinued), but its simplicity seemed to please those who preferred a straightforward system. But, let’s be honest: most professors still failed to use Angel properly.

Students have reported missing emails about class cancellations and assignments because Blackboard has yet to sync with Buffalo State’s email service.

That needs to change.

Blackboard is more innovative, with beneficial features such as comment options for grading feedback and a centralized homepage that allows access to all classes in seconds without confusing backtracking that was prevalent in the Angel model.

Not to mention, Blackboard offers an app for smartphone users that enables push notifications when a professor updates grades or assignments. It also gives the option to send a notification about class cancellations. This is ideal for most tech-reliant students.

Boiled down, it seems to be a preference issue for most.

Those with a new-school outlook have embraced the system while those who enjoy the old-school methods are longing for the return of something simply got the job done.

In the coming months, Degree Navigator will also be headed out the window. In comes Degree Works, which, much like the Angel-to-Blackboard switch, will likely cause some initial confusion.

Students who wish to learn the best practices of Blackboard can head to the computing a technology services website for instructions and a step-by-step navigation guide.

It doesn’t get much easier than that.

There is room for Blackboard to improve, but this is its first semester. Let’s take some time to adjust so that we’re not switching systems again after three years.