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BlackBoard should "opt out"

May 19, 2008

InsideHigherEd wrote about Blackboard syncing with Facebook to provide a class link (which is what ultimately worked out) through the social networking site. BlackBoard, in doing so, comes off as a the creepy old dude still trying to look cool.

One of the comments makes a link here where the phrase “creepy tree house effect” is discussed, which is pretty accurate for a neologism.

One of the comments to the creepy tree house effect discusses, quite well, how she tried twitter as an opt in class aid.

To all of this I say: keep the class out of socializing. That is, by drawing a clear demarcation between class time and social time, a whole set of confusing, embarrassing, and/or inappropriate blurring of personal/professional.

Why would BlackBoard want to interface on FaceBook? Because students don’t want to log on to BB’s interface? Then create an RSS feed for updates to be spammed out.

Because students spend a lot of time on Facebook and not on the BB site? Then make the BB site more usable–key interfaces with the library, with sources, may a link-in with OneNote or the like…

Point is, quit trying to be “cool” and be functional. Let the students and profs work out the time spent on task, and leave the socializing to the hallways.

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3 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink
    May 20, 2008 1:47 pm

    thanks for spotting this.
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    academic lumpenproletariat.

  2. healthcare lean training permalink
    May 27, 2008 8:14 pm

    Thanks a lot for a fine read. I really enjoy your blog.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. meteechart permalink
    May 31, 2008 8:06 pm

    Yup. Well said.

    So, I teach digital media art – thus have students sitting at computers at all times. I can only imagine this as one more excuse for students to log into Facebook (or other…) while they’re supposed to be working.

    I also find myself amazed anew each day at how poorly Blackboard’s UI is designed. Perhaps it would make a lot of sense to hire Facebook’s team to redesign it.

    On a related note, I’ve had a little success creating class-centered out-of-class interaction through mandatory student blogs. It requires some effort by the teacher (blogging assignments in lieu of “sketchbook work”, etc.) And, it’s much easier in intermediate to advanced courses.

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