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By: Dani-Elle Dubé

A new Blackboard feature will have Algonquin students and faculty connecting through an exclusive social media tool.

Blackboard Profile is a social networking domain introduced by Blackboard Learn that allows all 9,546 Algonquin Blackboard users to create professional profiles for sharing and viewing.

However, a technical issue has postponed its release.

Vanessa Marshall, educational application support from Learning and Teaching Services, described the new feature as a LinkIn-type profile sharing site.

“It’s a profile card that has your name and picture and you can put your qualifications in there as well,” explained Marshall. “It’s a way to list things to let others know what is it that you do. For students, it’s what program you are in. But for teachers, it helps them know each of their students.”

“It’s a place where you can have an online presence…basically, it integrates the ‘social’ into Blackboard.” Added David Loignon, manager of Learning Management Systems and Solutions Automation.

“I think it would be easier to talk to your classmates and teachers. Right now, we have to email them all the time,” said Falcone. “All of us use Facebook and create groups. So we’re all already using social media anyways to keep updated with our class. This would just make things much more simple.”

Stephanie Workman and Louise Peltier, both students in the registered practical nursing program, thought otherwise.

“I don’t think I would be creating a profile. Blackboard is already confusing enough,” said Workman.

The feature was uploaded to the network July 27 along with the latest service pack upgrade that Blackboard offered its clients. However, Algonquin removed Blackboard Profile from the package Sept. 1 due to issues with a port — a code that identifies the server’s host and service — and Algonquin’s firewall.

“The problem is that they change the port from version to version for their cloud product,” explained Paul Schieman, Blackboard system administrator for Information Technology Services. “So now the connector that attaches the cloud is going on a different port and being blocked by our firewall but they haven’t told me which port it is yet.”

“Everyone who has the exact same version and service pack as we do are having the same problem,” added Loignon.

Blackboard Profile allows students and staff to control who sees their profile by choosing from the three privacy setting choices. The first option allows all Algonquin Blackboard users to view the profile, the second gives access only to those who are in your courses and spaces and the third restricts anyone from viewing, messaging or following your profile. The feature also has the ability to connect with other institutions that use Blackboard Inc. but Algonquin will limit the social networking to within the Algonquin cloud due to privacy legalities.

Once students graduate, however, their profiles will be deleted along with their Blackboard Learn accounts. Profile users will have approximately four months following graduation with their accounts before the college removes them.

“We have the priorities of making sure the applications work for what it’s supposed to do,” said Loignon. “This is a nice feature. It’s not a need-to-have. Unless we get some definitive response from Blackboard Inc. we’re not spending a lot of energy trying to get this fixed.”

The re-release date of Blackboard Profile is yet to be determined.