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‘Old-fashioned’ Blackboard to be phased out in favour of Uni-wide system

Eden Faithfull reports on the move to phase out the Blackboard online tool

The Blackboard tool will soon be phased out entirely in favour of a single, institution-wide system after the need to update the “old-fashioned” learning management software was flagged during a meeting of the University’s Senior Executive Group.

While it’s yet undecided which new system the University will choose, it would be administered across all faculties and schools with the aim to address usability issues that have plagued its predecessor.

A satisfaction survey conducted in 2014 indicated high level of dissatisfaction with the Blackboard platform across both academic and administrative staff and students, with one third of these demographics expressing disappointment.

The survey results highlighted concerns with the platform’s ease of use, outdated interface and limitations in collaborative and interactive learning designs.

A University spokesperson said no decision had yet been made on Blackboard’s replacement, and it was currently undergoing a tender process.

“The University will be actively looking at a range of learning management systems over the coming months. The evaluation process will involve the whole University community, including academic and professional staff and students,” the spokesperson said.

Blackboard itself is currently rebuilding its own software ‘Blackboard Ultra’, which promises a wider use of mobile devices and a considerable increase in the number of educational tools available.

Blackboard is the most commonly used Learning Management System platform worldwide, though its market share has begun to steadily decline with alternative systems emerging.

Luke Anderson, a lecturer in the School of Information Technologies, said the main issues were around staff and student interaction with the Blackboard system.

“When selecting a Learning Management System, you can usually only have two of three things: usability, learning tools, and cost,” he said.

“With the Blackboard system, you have a whole heap of learning tools at a reasonable cost, however this means there is a compromise for usability, which is the main issue currently facing the university”.

The issue is expected to be discussed further at the next meeting of the Senior Executive Group.