UTech Jamaica Collaborates with Blackboard to Improve Online Teaching

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George Brown, Chief Information Technology Officer of the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech Jamaica) informed a virtual town hall meeting on Tuesday that the university has partnered with Blackboard Inc. for a 1-year pilot to implement Blackboard Learn. Speaking yesterday at the meeting hosted by the UTech Jamaica Students’ Union Council, Mr. Brown stated that “As the university would have embarked on a number of initiatives, we shifted gears into working along with our internal team strategizing and selecting what we thought would be the best approach so we settled on the Blackboard Learn”.

Dr. Jeanette Bartley-Bryan Associate Vice President of Open and Distance Learning, further explained that – taking into account students’ concerns about the challenges that they faced in semester 1 – Blackboard Learn will improve teaching delivery, flow of communication and use of appropriate learning resources. Addressing students’ additional concerns about online teaching, Acting President of UTech Jamaica, Professor Colin Gyles encouraged lecturers to make recordings available to students and to increase class limits.

Publicity flyer for the live town hall meeting with the management of UTech Jamaica, hosted by the UTech Jamaica Students’ Union Council.

Publicity flyer for the live town hall meeting with the management of UTech Jamaica, hosted by the UTech Jamaica Students’ Union Council.

Using Blackboard Learn

Students who choose modules that are a part of the Blackboard Learn will receive a notification on their portal saying that those modules are now accessible on Blackboard Learn. On their timetables, these students will see a room called ‘Blackboard Learn’ in order to lessen confusion.

Another feature of the Blackboard Learn is that students are able to extract PowerPoint or pdf that will be uploaded by lecturers and convert it to mp3 if you want to listen to the presentation or a braille feature for visually impaired students.

“Lecturers have been trained to use Blackboard for semester 2 and we have approximately 30 modules that will be a part of the pilot in semester 2,” Demisha Gayle-Walker Project Manager explained. The Blackboard Learn pilot will continue into semester 3. However, Moodle will still be available.

“Blackboard Learn is an integrated system in that once you confirm your selections, within 24hrs you will be enrolled on to the platform and you will be able to login to see the contents of your modules. It is also integrated with Blackboard Collaborate where you can always access your video conferencing room via the platform and a link is not necessary,” Gayle-Walker explained. “Lecturers will have the ability to input grades for all students that are on their occurrences and to automatically transfer grades on to the ISAS platform using Blackboard Learn,” Gayle-Walker added.

Reported by Chrisancia Robinson

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