The Blackboard Learning and Community System is a course and organization management system that makes the creation, organization, and management of course content on the web relatively simple. As of July 2009, Syracuse University has upgraded to Blackboard Learn, a version with a re-developed interface and a "Web 2.0" look and feel.
Blackboard can be accessed through a web browser from any computer with Internet access. Faculty and students will have access to Blackboard courses on a nearly continuous basis. Blackboard @ SU is intended for supplemental use in supporting on-campus, face-to-face classes listed in the Time Schedule of Classes as well as online courses.
The principle features of Blackboard include a standardized course template, tools for uploading course content - including multimedia files, course discussion boards (threaded discussions), collaboration tools (chat rooms), e-mail, file sharing, grade center, test and surveys, class rosters, course copy, blogs and an interactive assignment tool.
Below is a partial list of the course tools that are available in the Blackboard Learning System.
- Standardized Course Template: Courses created in Blackboard have a standardized look. Faculty can tailor the course menu text, course color scheme, and organization of the navigation panel to suit their needs.
- Uploading Course Content: There are built in tools for uploading files into Blackboard. Most file types are recognized by the Blackboard Learning System, including audio and video files and other rich media.
- Discussion Boards: This tool provides an asynchronous communication medium for posting and responding to student messages within Blackboard. Many threads, which are organized and controlled by the instructor, can be added to a discussion board.
- Blogs and Journals: Blackboard Learn introduced individual, group and course blogs into the Blackboard environment.
- Collaboration: This tool provides a means for real-time lessons and discussions. It can be used to hold real-time, online classroom discussions, teaching assistant sessions, and office hour type question and answer forums.
- E-mail: Faculty can send e-mail to individuals or groups participating in a course.
- Grade Center: Faculty can add items to the grade center for work completed outside of Blackboard, including essays, critiques, etc. The grade center automatically posts all student grades associated with online tests and assignments.
- Test and Surveys: Faculty can create tests to assess the knowledge and skill level of students enrolled in a course. Answers are submitted for grading and the results are automatically recorded in the grade center.
- Interactive Assignment Tool: This tool lists the name, point value, and instructions for assignments. Students complete the assignment in a separate file and send it back to the instructor through Blackboard. The grade is automatically entered into the grade center.
- Group Space for Students: Faculty can build study or project groups in Blackboard and can assign tools to groups such as email, discussion boards, chat rooms, blogs and journals.
- Course Calendar: Faculty can use the calendar to indicate important course related events. The dates and events that appear on the Course Calendar are for all students registered in a specific course.
- Notifications: This system allows instructors to set up automated notifications to be displayed in a dashboard view for students or to individual emails when changes to course content occurs.