WTAMU prepares for system changeover in fall

Jasmin Ruiz

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Students can find training links at WT’s Support Portal

Students can find training links at WT’s Support Portal

West Texas A&M University students and faculty members will no longer be using the Angel Learning Management System (LMS) for online classes and other course-related content. Starting in the fall of 2015, students and faculty will be using Blackboard. Blackboard is similar to the current WTClass system and is a learning management system that is set up and designed to put up content and interact with students by course.

 

Many students and faculty members are surprised with the change, but this was not a choice made by Information Technology. Blackboard bought Angel, the current WTClass program, in 2009 and piloted 20 courses with 700 people in the fall semester and more classes are being piloted in Blackboard this semester.

 

“It will be a learning curve for a lot of people,” Lora Haasl, Manager of Instructional Technology Services, said. “It’s a little different, so there will be a learning transition time.”

 

For some students, this will be the first time Blackboard will be used, while for other students, such as transfers, Blackboard is nothing unfamiliar. Many public schools and colleges use Blackboard. Amarillo College is one example of the many colleges that use Blackboard as their LMS.

 

“I haven’t had many problems with it,” Dr. John D. Rausch, Professor of Political Science at WT, said, “but it doesn’t matter what we think about it because we all have to use it now.”

 

Dr. Rausch has been teaching at WT since the fall of 1998 and has been teaching his online courses since the spring of 2000. Rausch does several of his classes online, and his courses are some of the many that are involved in the pilot run for Blackboard. Dr. Rausch said a lot of things on Blackboard look the same as they do on Angel but have different names. He also said a lot of his students have had trouble with it, but blame too much on the Blackboard for it.

 

“It’s hard to navigate and makes me frustrated,” Jessie Glover, sophomore Broadcast and Electronic Media major, said. “But I haven’t had a lot of practice with it yet.”

 

Like Glover, many other students have expressed their frustrations with Blackboard, but students don’t have to deal with it on their own. IT is offering several training opportunities for students who want to learn more about it or are having trouble with it.

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