Big changes are coming for the students and faculty of Algonquin.
In a recent email addressed to current students, president Cheryl Jensen and SA president Egor Evseev wrote that the school will no longer be using Blackboard as of September 2018.
“We know how difficult this has been for all of you,” the email reads, addressing the fact that Blackboard has given the staff and students “a number of serious issues.”
The email explains that Jensen has assembled a team in order for them to sort out issues with the college’s learning management system (LMS).
Patrick Devey, dean of the Centre for Continuing and Online Learning and Maggie Cusson, dean of Academic Development, are leading this team. The members have been given a hard deadline to find an alternate to Blackboard.
“We haven’t served you well,” said Jensen — referring to Blackboard — during a classroom visit with first-year journalism students at the college, shortly before the email was released. During the discussion, Jensen praised Evseev, who had been fighting hard to communicate Blackboard’s issues to the heads of the school.
Ridding the college of the LMS was one of Evseev’s main points in his platform when he ran for president of the Students’ Association last winter.
“Blackboard was something that needed to be replaced,” said Evseev, mentioning his excitement over the LMS finally making its way out of the school.
“I ultimately believe, for the first time in a long time, the students and the school are on the same page.” Evseev said he had felt as though the school was not listening to the students’ pleas. He mentioned that one of the reasons why the college was sticking with Blackboard was because the LMS was believed to be good enough to get the job done.
“Blackboard historically worked,” said Evseev, explaining that while the LMS does not work exceptionally well, it seemed to function in the eyes of the college administration.
But Blackboard’s weaknesses became apparent when the LMS crashed during fall mid-terms at the start of the current school year. Many students were without access to their study notes and assignments to help them prepare for their tests.
Amidst the numerous complaints against Blackboard in the recent months, one student decided to speak out against the LMS.
First-year mobile application design and development student, Christian Yurt, kicked off a petition against Blackboard on the first day of the winter 2017 term. The campaign, appropriately named Ditch Blackboard, proposed the college drop its current LMS and replace it with a superior system.
Yurt’s class has been using an alternative LMS since the beginning of the school year, but his professors warned the class that the college would likely be forcing them to switch to Blackboard in the near future. Unhappy with this situation, Yurt had decided it was time to take action against Blackboard.
“Maybe the school will listen,” Yurt had said. “If we make enough noise.”
Yurt’s petition took an abrupt end when Jensen and Evseev’s email circulated, but Evseev was happy to see how Yurt had taken the situation so seriously.
“I wish students did that on all issues,” he said.