During the last academic year, many of my fellow teaching assistants (and full-time faculty) struggled with Blackboard. The primary issue was the desire of most users to type in another application, then paste the results into discussion boards. The results tend to be a mess. High-ASCII and Unicode characters become question marks, formats are lost, and everyone gripes.
I tended to prefer using Nvu, which works pretty well on my PowerBook. I'd paste the resulting HTML into Blackboard, and all was good. However, this is not a practical solution when dealing with 84 instructors and more than 6,000 English 1 students.
No training is provided to TAs, or faculty, unless they decide to attend an hour-long orientation to PeopleSoft and Blackboard the week after courses begin. Not much help when the CSU system wants course documents online and forums established before courses start.
Anyone here have a nice, easy solution? We can't ask people to disable all the "SmartQuotes" and typographer's symbols because many of us use them for publications, or on Web pages that are in UTF-8 encoding. The IT department isn't going to listen to us... we're just one Cal State, in a huge system of 20 universities.
Blackboard has timed-out while composing responses to students, or simply failed to save posts. I notice it supports a limited number of HTML commands, at least in my experimentation and pasting some HTML causes problems.
English 1 is only 16 weeks, twice a week for 70 minutes. I don't think I can do much Blackboard orientation for my students, much less my fellow instructors. As it stands, I'm planning a freebie hour on my own time before the semester. A lot of the TAs are completely lost in the system.
Ideas? Suggestions? I already know most TAs will simply ignore Blackboard, after last year's experiences. I'm hoping for 30 or 40 percent usage.