This entry was written by Blackboard User Experience Architect Rob Fay (right in photo), a member of Blackboard’s Product Development group.
Of all the courses I took in undergraduate and graduate school, only one of my classes used Blackboard software for limited course management functions. The instructor for that course chose to post her syllabus online; she posted the weekly assignments and readings to the space, and she encouraged the use of the discussion board. That instructor didn’t enable many features the system had to offer, but her effort was a start. And as a student, I didn’t know the full breadth of what Blackboard software had to offer anyway.
Nonetheless, I was excited that that instructor decided to use Blackboard software for her course management needs. Why?
Well, after all, the class focused on human-computer interaction methodologies. Why teach a course on system interface design and not leverage educational technologies?
Interestingly, we had a group assignment to apply traditional user-centered design methods and research to critique a chosen Web-based system. One group decided to critique the Blackboard system we were using.
Fast forward a few years.
Now I work with the User Experience ("UX") team in Blackboard’s Product Development group. It is my team’s responsibility to critique Blackboard products and to make them easier and more enjoyable to use. "User Experience" is a somewhat nebulous concept, but our team follows Peter Morville’s "User Experience Honeycomb" model (Morville, 2004) by striving to make our products accessible, credible, desirable, findable, usable, useful, and valuable.
To achieve such high standards, we must get you – Blackboard users – involved in the design process. So, how do we do it? And how can you help?