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Professors need to invest in update

Kunkel is a sophomore magazine journalism and graphic design double major and can be reached at kayli.kunkel@drake.edu

Drake University’s blueView portal is a handy tool for students. Its main resources include easy-to-access headaches and user-friendly frustration.

The site has its benefits, yes. It’s a secure way to put together the useful stuff students need. But it has a tiring layout — design majors, including myself, cringe at the sight of it — and it is difficult to navigate through. Any desirable page is buried deep within a plethora of tabs and clicks.

Blackboard 8 was considerably the biggest flop of the site, distinguished by ambiguous headings and bad organization. It was a maze, at best.

Drake did us a favor, however, and Blackboard 9 was born. It was launched with good intentions: to bring a bit of organizational light to the dark world of blueView’s homepage. The reviews are in, and generally, students love it. It’s clean, concise, and logical. It connects students to professors better than the dusty old 8.0 ever did.

The only drawback is that professors don’t use it.

A handful of professors have flat out refused to learn the upgrade. A surplus of excuses is circulating: it’s too difficult. Learning it will take too much time. These instructors either “promise to learn it next year” or reject it entirely, usually partnered with, “Tough luck, class; carry on with Blackboard 8.”

Blackboard 8 was problematic enough. Professors varied where they kept their syllabi, where they uploaded assignments, and how often they required students to check the site. It was a constant juggling act, trying to remember each instructor’s particular Blackboard habits. Now, with the release of Blackboard 9, stubborn professors are adding yet another dimension to student’s woes, most of which would rather spend valuable time completing assignments than searching the twisted confines of the Drake Ethernet for them. Heck, some courses from last year still show up in the course list in Blackboard 8.

When choosing between Blackboard 8 or 9 on the popup, you can click “Not sure which system to use?” The corresponding page tells this:

“Your class may be in either Blackboard system. If you are unsure as to which system your course is in, check both systems starting with Blackboard 8. If you cannot find it in either, please contact your instructor to ask how to access the course materials.”

If this sounds dreadful, trust me: It is.

I understand why several professors don’t want to make the switch. Coming from the girl who once taught her parents how to send “twitters” and close out of computer windows, believe me when I say I know that familiarizing with upgrades is tiring, especially when you’re comfortably accustomed to the old.

Still, Drake invested time (and, I assume, money) into its new Blackboard design. They saw an issue and made moves to improve it, and bravo to that notion. If the Blackboard upgrade is a hit, between both students and teachers, what is to say they won’t take the (ahem) logical next step and renovate the blueView homepage?

The bottom line is bigger than you’d think: It’s a fast-paced world out there and we, as a university, need to adapt. Adapting to the constant stream of technological updates isn’t always enjoyable or easy. I’m sure many of us glaze over prompts to upgrade iTunes or Flash on our laptops for the millionth time — but adaptation is absolutely necessary.

Many departments at Drake strive to give students an edge in the growing realm of technology. As a university, we understand the web’s ever-growing influence. Instructors assign students online videos to learn software, or use websites to track student progress and homework. Many of our student publications now have innovative web-based counterparts, and numerous courses require students to keep blogs. Drake University is represented by innovation.

So, dear professors, my plea to you: Give us a hand and make the switch to Blackboard 9. Sit down and take an hour (and maybe a tech-savvy friend) and learn the basics of the upgrade. Pioneer us into the future, even in this small way. Us students will thank you.

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