Students seek assistance

With Blackboard being the hub for Amarillo College students to access the most important aspects of their classes such as grades, submission folders, syllabi, schedules, online reading material, assignments, teacher contact information and other vital course content, one would think that when such a hub is changed, there would be a process in place to transition students to this newly rearranged system. 

For new students, there was a walkthrough in place, as they are new to the school and Blackboard in general, but returning students were plum out of luck for any such on-boarding process for Blackboard.

It was difficult enough to deal with every class having their own way in which they elect to display their content on Blackboard; Different classes had varying levels of delineation based on how instructors chose to organize their digital content. 

Students are responsible for understanding where everything is for every class, even if it is only posted in one highly-specific location only accessible through a series of menus and channels, making searching for a paper deadline feel akin to spelunking through a cave system. 

Furthermore, the calendar meant to help students stay organized with assignment deadlines only applies to classes whose deadlines are programmed into Blackboard, which not all are.  Frequently, a deadline is referenced in class or in the syllabus, but it is absent from Blackboard’s calendar. 

Now with this semester’s transition to Blackboard Ultra, returning students have had to learn to navigate a new menu system as well without the benefit of an explanation as to how Ultra differs. This was certainly an adjustment for many, and a quite unpleasant and deeply frustrating experience for others.

Perhaps the most infuriating aspect of this whole ordeal is the numerous technical difficulties faced by students and faculty, making what should run as a well-oiled machine appear as effectual as the tin man caught in the rain.

While some students have been mysteriously absent from class rosters, others have been absent and been unable to communicate with their instructors through Blackboard. For many, the worst problems occur in the grade book, causing a great deal of stress to students invested in their academic success.

Assignments and essays in certain classes have been submitted only for students to receive an automatic zero, as the assignment has not been graded yet, and due to some setting in Ultra, it appears as a zero in the grade book. This temporarily drops the student’s grade, and can be upsetting to a student who does not understand what is happening in that moment. 

Another issue for other courses has been the inability to view grades for assignments that have been submitted and graded. Again, there is a setting in Ultra that some courses have, which the instructor may not know how to change in order to let students view their grades, learn from their mistakes and see whether they need tutoring.

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