By Amanda Parrish, Staff Writer
Blackboard is being replaced by MoodleRooms as Union’s primary online learning system beginning Sept. 1.
Tabitha Washburn, instruction support and Learning Management System administrator for information technology, said the final day Blackboard will be functional is Aug. 31.
Washburn said along with the new system, several plugins have been included that will assist professors and students, including the “Turnitin” feature and “Respond as Lockdown Browser.” The “Turnitin” feature allows professors to search for plagiarism, while “Respond as Lockdown Browser” acts as a safeguard, monitoring students’ use of other windows during online testing.
Dr. Paul Jackson, professor of biblical studies and one faculty member implementing MoodleRooms this semester, said the “Turn It In” feature also provides feedback for students about grammatical corrections.
The feature will evaluate a paper, make notes and provide extensive details on ways the student can improve or correct elements of his or her paper.
Other plugins will be considered after Moodle’s implementation.
For students, Washburn said Moodle is advantageous because it provides a central location for online learning. Unlike Blackboard, Moodle emails copies and responses to students’ accounts.
Moodle will also be accessible through Union’s new Portal system, allowing easier access to all Union-related sites.
Despite these benefits, some students expressed concern over Moodle’s reliability. Lisa Herod, freshman Christian studies major, said her high school used Moodle and had issues with the system losing work. However, Herod has not experienced these kinds of problems while using the system at Union.
Chelsea Coudriet, freshman English and biblical languages double major, said she used Moodle at another college but likes using Moodle better than Blackboard.
Although Coudriet prefers face-to-face relational learning to online classrooms, she said she does appreciate the use of less paper that Moodle allows.
For professors, the transition from Blackboard to Moodle has been positive despite the learning curve. Jackson said Moodle is an accessible and clear program to transition to from Blackboard.
“MoodleRooms is more intuitive and has more whistles and bells,” Jackson said. “It is more powerful for professors and students and helps to better manage grades, evaluate grades and communicate.”
Washburn said training is in place for faculty, and she hopes that in the future, short video tutorials will be available for students through Union’s IT website.
The decision to transition from Blackboard to Moodle came when Blackboard officials informed Union that its present program would no longer be made available.
Union developed a committee of 21 faculty and staff members to discuss options for the online learning system. The four IT staff and 17 faculty members on the committee chose Moodle as the alternative system.
Last fall, Union did a pilot test for Moodle, and this semester the program was implemented into 59 different classes with 36 professors.