Blackboard Learn: IL2011 Session Summary

This talk on Blackboard Learn is by Anita R Dryden and Christina H. Gola, of University of Houston. I’m excited about this session as my university uses Blackboard and I really want the library to embed our services into Blackboard more fully. Let’s get into the session info!

First, the context: University of Houston is very large (40,000 students) and it is a commuter campus with lots of transfer students. [Sounds a lot like my university, except for the size. We’re only at around 14,000.]

In 2009, library was “sort of” embedded in the course management system (CMS). Some subject liaisons were embedded in courses. Challenges for IT: short-staffed and underfunded. Trying to work with IT to get them on-board with getting the library embedded. Ran into trouble because librarians were working with faculty members and not instructional designers in becoming embedded. [Communication is key to successful partnerships.]

Inspired by Emily Daly’s article in C&RL News: Embedding library resources into learning management systems and used this model to pilot embedding the library in the CMS. Identified courses for pilot, worked with instructional designers to get permissions, and manually linked to LibGuides. Then gathered stats from one semester. Got 3,872 hits in one semester on the engineering LibGuide due to having just a link in an engineering course.

Getting Buy-in
Became part of the Implementation Team for Blackboard Learn. Had training for 4 days. University tranisitioning to Blackboard Learn to centralize IT services and try to get all schools using the same CMS.

Manged to get entire Library tab at the campus level! Students see it on their homepage when they log in! [Wow! That is great!]

Overview of Blackboard Learn
“Heart of the sytem are the course pages.” Embedded links to subject guides. Also have the Library tab and librarians have control over the tab and content on that tab.

Research Guide Links
Librarians have embedded the research guides in the CMS to be at the point of need. Many of the subject guides are course specific. Began looking at automating the process for linking. Inserting a dynamic link in order to pass subject code and course number to database to link up the correct guide to the course. [Super cool.]

Library Tab
Have a very high level of control over this page. [Awesome] Still developing this tab. Library has administrator priveleges and ability for dynamic content from other library systems and focus on point-of-need research help, not replicating the library’s homepage.

In order to have low maintenance, they are using dynamic content wherever possible and trying to have minimal library staff working in Blackboard. Should run itself once it’s set-up.

Communication is super-important! You need to know the organization’s history in order to have a successful partnership and projects/programs in the future. Cultivating these partnerships are super-important for embedding the library’s services at the point-of-need. It’s worth pursuing in order to reach more students!