Blackboard fix hits a snag

A recent attempt to fix Palomar’s under-performing classroom management system was derailed at the last hour by a union contract issue, sources said.

The Classroom Management System Blackboard is educational software used by Palomar College that helps teachers and students to communicate, collaborate and manage everything from assignments to grades.

The system however has been having problems with speed and consistency this semester, which is “leaving both instructors and students frustrated and anxious,” according to Lillian Payn, the Academic Technology coordinator.

Payn recommended the best solution was for Palomar officials to contract out the maintenance to Blackboard Managed Hosting. The contract was pulled from Palomar’s Governing Board agenda at the last minute on Nov. 12 due to a union conflict.

“The big issue for the union was related to contracting out of classified work. We currently host Blackboard on campus and have classified employees doing the work to make Blackboard run,” said Aaron Holmes, president of the Council of Classified Employees at Palomar College.

“We are trying to find a solution that does not contract out classified work but also creates a Blackboard environment that works better for students, faculty, and staff,” Holmes said.

For now faculty and students will have to continue to endure the sluggish and touchy Blackboard system, at least until a union resolution is met or a short-term fix is implemented.

“The lag in the system definitely increases the amount of time it takes to grade and increases our workload,” said associate professor Kelly Falcone.

According to blackboard.com, their managed hosting service will be able to actively monitor the system 24/7 and keep the programs secure and available to the students and teachers anytime. This will free up the Academic Technology Resource Center to better serve the faculty, Payn said.

She added that she still feels this is the best solution.

“We researched colleges with similar challenges, which were resolved by going with Blackboard managed hosting. Our plan is to move to managed hosting Spring semester 2014,” Payn said.

 

Author: Kyle Rosa

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