The Effectiveness of Blackboard and Discussion Boards in Junior Computer Science/Engineering Class: Survey and Students' Reflections
In the life of the students in the department of Computer Science, there is a major road-block called 212. It is a 4 credit course called "Low Level Programming in C". The Course teaches the C programming language with some assembly language programming for MIPS machines as well. The course doesn't have a course management component such as Blackboard associated with it. It has only a password protected website where power-point slides and announcements are posted. Therefore, there is no discussion forum for the students to ask, discuss or collaborate on issues pertaining to the class. The goal in 212 is to limit programs sharing or any collaboration on the programming assignments that need to be done in an individualistic fashion. Along the graduation road of these same students, they take a follow up course called 311 which is a "Computer Organization" course. The students continue on learning more about low level programming which includes writing some more C language programs as well as MIPS assembly. The way this course is structured and taught is fundamentally different than 212. There is a course management component added to the course through the University of Maryland, College Park's blackboard. Almost everything is there, lecture notes, past exams, a discussion board, assignments, solutions to exams and whatever is in-between. There is significant activity that goes into the Discussion Board. There is many interesting observations about the discussion boards, the student answer each others' questions without waiting for the Teaching Assistants or the instructors to respond. Sometimes, the TAs would get questions privately that seem to be repeating so they send them to everyone through the Discussion boards. We aim in this presentation to report to the larger educational community the student experiences and perception of the blackboard and the discussion boards.
Keywords: Survey, Effectiveness, Discussion Boards, Blackboard, Computer Programming, Assembly Language Programming
Graduate Assistant, Computer Science Department, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department
Dr. Michelle Hugue
Instructor, Computer Science Department