"This year I have developed and offered a full repertoire of Blackboard training workshops that continue to draw attendance from faculty members both from Brooklyn College and from other CUNY institutions. For fall semester, Nick and I agreed to offer a slimmed-down version of our offerings due to the move to the new library. For spring semester 2003, I introduced two new general workshops (i.e., non-Blackboard) to add to the Pedagogical Series: Copyright and the TEACH Act: Implications for Online Instruction; and 508 Accessibility Guidelines for your Course Site." Sylvie Richards, Multimedia Specialist.

Blackboard has truly revolutionized online teaching and learning at Brooklyn College. This flexible, friendly e-learning platform enables faculty to build course sites without learning to write code or use complex authoring systems. At the same time, AIT staff have bettered Blackboard, creating new and exciting tools that complement and work within this platform. As a result, the College's Web-based teaching at Brooklyn College has taken an enormous leap forward, and the number of course sites (see Faculty Course Sites, below) has spiraled.

In 2002-03 the number of Blackboard course sites grew from 183 to 427, a 233% increase!! The number of instructors using Blackboard rose from 155 to 265, and the number of students using Blackboard rose from 1360 to 4488. The overall impact of Blackboard usage on teaching and learning at Brooklyn College has been felt across the disciplines, and technology literacy among students is increasing at a rapid pace.

Number of Courses427
Number of Students4,488
Number of Instructors265
Number of Hits Per Month2,889,558
Average Hits Per Day4,018

  • BUC: The Blackboard Users Community
  • BUC, a users group for faculty with Blackboard course sites, was organized by Multimedia Specialist Sylvie Richards during the 2001/02 academic year. From the BUC site:

    "Welcome to the Brooklyn College Blackboard Users Community course site! Here you will find helpful solutions and tips that can assist you. Look under ‘Course Documents' for updated materials. Join the Forum on the Discussion Board, and watch for announcements about upcoming BUC meetings!"

    We begin the spring 2003 semester on April 1 with a BUC brown bag lunch on the TEACH (Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization) Act Two additional lunches occurred later in the semester.

  • Upgrading to Blackboard Level 2/3
    Blackboard is higher education's most widely deployed e-teaching and learning environment: even early iterations offered a robust environment for content management and sharing, online assessments, student tracking, assignment management, and virtual collaboration. At the enterprise level, Blackboard integrates other administrative systems and authentication protocols with its own software, and the new Building Blocks architecture allows for considerable customization and interoperability with third-party providers, like those that sell portfolio products. (Blackboard specialist Sylvie Richards has made her own Building Block recommendations and volunteered for the CUNY committee that will determine which ones the University will support. We understand that campuses may also add building blocks of their own choosing, for which they pay.) The enterprise product also interfaces with a campus's other administrative systems, saving quantities of staff and faculty time when it comes to setting up new course sites, enrolling students, and so forth.

    The path forward to the Blackboard enterprise version has had a good many twists and turns. At first the University expressed considerable uncertainty about its ability to fund a CUNY-wide enterprise license to replace the original level 1 product. However, Brooklyn's course site numbers were growing so rapidly that we were about to surpass the capacity of a level 1 license. Preparing for any eventuality, the College budgeted $45,000 in Student Technology Fee funds to support Brooklyn's own enterprise license.

    At last, in the fall 2002, the University began to negotiate with Blackboard, opting to buy a single CUNY-wide license and to run the software on University servers located in Manhattan. This arrangement will not be without cost to the local campuses, although these costs remain unclear: the University plans to charge colleges a per-user fee.

    At Brooklyn, we anticipate a summer or fall 2003 implementation. While the contract is still under negotiation, we are hopeful about a summer 2003 implementation–so great are the differences between the old to the new product that a fall 2003 migration would likely create chaos: Sylvie Richards learned at the national Blackboard conference that migrating from 5.5 to 6 has been a nightmare at other institutions. For one thing, all user names and passwords change. Sylvie is now attempting to migrate her demo courses using the SAN box provided by Blackboard.

    We are planning training for Brooklyn's faculty later this spring, and our summer Blackboard Institute is training faculty and staff throughout CUNY for version 6–it should be the biggest Blackboard institute ever.

  • Staff Development for Blackboard

  • In the past year, Vice-President Steve Little supported Multimedia Specialist Sylvie Richards' attendance at:

    Blackboard Users Conference (March 2002, Phoenix)
    Blackboard Users Conference (February 2003, Washington DC)