The Instructional Technology gang at Keene State
College
in New Hampshire has a relatively new
blog, KSC Instructional Technology. They recently wrote about some of their Blackboard successes:

Tracy Mendham, and adjunct professor who teaches ENG 101, learned how to help her students avoid some end of semester anticipation by using the grade book function in the Blackboard software suite. … Getting students to use Blackboard is relatively easy because they are interested in using the technology that’s available to them, Mendham said. But she does need to take some class time to introduce her students to the site. Students are far from the only people who need some time to get used to using Blackboard….once students get used to using Blackboard they start expecting professors to use it.

(There’s a lot more to the post. Read the whole thing.)

That kind of student influence is a story
we hear from lots of our customers.
Many people in the educational technology
realm are familiar with the ideas in Everett Rogers’ work on diffusion of
innovations
(especially as popularized in Geoffrey Moore’s 1991 book Crossing the
Chasm
). In short, technology adoption occurs in a bell curve. And it’s
the back end of that bell curve where the students hold the most influence.

At the front
edges of the bell curve are
the innovators and early adopters and then the big
first half of the bell curve represents the "early majority." The back half of
the bell curve — the "late majority" and the "laggards" — are the ones that
are slow to incorporate technology into their practice.

I’ve seen lots
of institutions try lots of different means to get the faculty in the "late
majority" and "laggard" categories involved with using the Blackboard Academic Suite and
other technologies, but the most effective agent of change I’ve seen is the
students themselves. Online access to course information and materials is
important to a lot of students, because many of them live online in ways that
some of us "older folk" (yeah, I admit it) won’t ever comprehend. And they’re
willing to vote for technology with their feet — some students will transfer
out of classes that don’t have an online component.

Perhaps even
more interesting, University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Daily Nebraskan
noted that use of Blackboard
and podcasts were key issues in the student government elections
, with one
of the candidates’ primary goals being increasing the "use of podcasts and UNL’s
Blackboard Web site" and making it "mandatory for professors to post student
grades on Blackboard."
Talk about voting for technology!

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