In Search of a Solution: How Chandigarh University Navigated the Initial Challenges of the Pandemic with the Help of Blackboard

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Over the past year and a half, Chandigarh University has been taking active steps to overcome educational hurdles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this post, we asked Shefali Verma, Associate Director and Head of E-Governance to answer some questions about how the university identified specific issues, steps they took to overcome them, and how this has impacted their path moving forward.

What was the main issue that brought you into communication with Blackboard?

When the pandemic occurred, we were struggling with the fact that conventional teaching was no longer a viable option. Our major concern was how to present a live class to the students virtually, where the students could feel like they were actually in class. We wanted students and teachers to remain active even if the lecture was delivered through a virtual medium. Finally, after a long vetting process, we settled with Blackboard and have been amazed with the results.

How long until your team began seeing progress?

We struggled for only a month. Although we have our own CUIMS, which works out for us in a normal situation which it is capable of handling, the CUIMS was not ready to deal with the circumstances caused by the pandemic.

Why did you choose Blackboard  to solve this issue?

Blackboard’s tools and services work just as well as a conventional classroom. User account creation takes place then course creation, student enrollment, and so on just like the typical process at the university. Students remain engaged easily through Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Collaborate—even attendance can be easily extracted after each session.

Were there other avenues you explored to resolve the issue prior to using Blackboard?

Yes, we tried using Moodle, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and Edex.

Did your team have an ongoing relationship with Blackboard prior to this issue?

Not actually. We had heard about Blackboard from some international partners and, after the demo run, we found it quite useful and easy to adopt.

How did you know the issue was being resolved?

After adopting Blackboard, our students can better explain the services provided to them by the university. We have conducted several surveys with the students and faculty, and the response for Blackboard amazed us. Students love the platform, and they are now so familiar with it that they do not want to switch this tool to any other platform. The ease of using Blackboard and the user-friendly environment made it possible for students to habitually use it. Our students and faculty are all satisfied.

What quantitative evidence did you have that the issue was being resolved?

We have long survey reports which we have conducted quarterly. The reports speak for themselves that the platforms we had tried earlier were not accepted by the students, but, when we adopted Blackboard, 75-79% of students were happy.

What role did Blackboard play in the resolution of this issue?

The features of Blackboard, the ease of use to these features—prompt notifications to the students, analytics of the student performance, student performance metrics—all of these features played a significant role.

What value-add does Blackboard Collaborate bring to the entire teaching and learning experience at Chandigarh University?

It has created a very engaging experience. Rich content can be prepared on the LMS, a variety of tests can be created, and assignments can be easily prepared and delivered to the students with notifications in their courses. Students are recommending to their younger friends and family in school to opt for Chandigarh University because of the platform we are using to deliver the content and classes to the students.