Technology seems to be taking over from life. Both at home and at university, our life is controlled by smart phones, smart boards and even smarter learning systems. In pre-faculty, once a week we have lessons with Blackboard Collaborate. Whether you are lying in bed, sitting on a terrace or visiting your boyfriend, you can attend this lesson using your laptop. PhD. Esin Çağlayan, Manager of the Teaching and Learning Center explained the ins and outs of this system to us.
What is it?
Blackboard Collaborate is a virtual environment and its main aim is to facilitate real time online learning. We basically use it for live instruction; the lecturers can meet with their students online. It can also be used for project work. For example, students who are enrolled in a Blackboard course can meet at an online room and work together. And it can be used for office hours; when teachers are away for some reason or after school, they can meet students online through Collaborate to answer their questions outside the classroom. Also, if students have missed some lessons, teachers can do make up lessons with the students on Collaborate. So it’s a great tool for outside class activities.
How did it start?
This year, our university adopted a technology enhanced learning-teaching approach and we call it Smart Campus. We now have several digital teaching and learning tools.We have BB Learn, BB Collaborate and we have Panopto for recording lessons. Soon, BB Analytics will be put into practice. This is basically a reporting system, so the students and the lecturers will have the chance to see the students’ progress by looking at their own course reports.
Will it continue to be used?
Yes, because of the advantages of this new tool, BB Collaborate will continue to be used in the fourth module with pre-faculty students. The Teaching and Learning Center will continue offering workshops to the university faculty members, so all faculty members will be aware of the benefits and the uses of BB Collaborate. And at the moment, it is already being used in some online Master’s programs and in collaborative teaching projects in faculties.
As with everything new, of course it will take some time to adapt. The students will have to get used to it and the teachers will need some time to adapt. Drawbacks, yes. Users need to become familiar with the benefits and the functions of this tool and they may need some technical support.
There is a need to inform people. At first, the users should be given training. If you don’t know how it works, the system may fail, so giving information is the key. Everybody should be trained about how to use BB Collaborate. If they know it well, if they use it well, then everybody will benefit.