Blackboard Implementation and Pilot Report

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					               Blackboard Implementation and Pilot Report
               Summary report prepared by Marie J. Botticelli, Co-Director, and Betsy Rowe, Director
                                        Office of Academic Technology
                                                August 31, 2005

Executive Summary
          In 2000, the campus first selected the Blackboard Course Management System for campus-wide
use after a successful earlier implementation in 1999 by the Rutgers Business School (RBS). Initially, the
product was hosted by Blackboard and then by RBS. The version in use was limited in its features and
functionality, and by 2004, Blackboard announced a major new release of the product. During this time,
the campus made a decision to upgrade to the enterprise version of Blackboard, reposition support of the
product from RBS to Newark Computing Services (NCS), and emphasize the benefits of a course
management system to faculty.
         The implementation planning team included representatives from units that would be involved in
design and development of the enterprise course management system and that would be skilled in other
aspects of project management, such as communications and training.
          Blackboard design incorporated a download from central databases of all Newark courses,
registered students, and faculty/staff to create templates for all courses with integrated rosters; and the
ability to submit final grades from within a Blackboard course using a roster grade table.
         Blackboard implementation began with FAS-N departments through pilot programs with student
mentors. Selected students were trained in Blackboard and assigned to each instructor participating in a
departmental pilot. The students assisted the instructors with course development and use of Blackboard.
Economics piloted the system during the Fall 2004 semester followed by Classical and Modern Languages
and Literature in the Spring 2005 semester. Both pilots provided information used to make corrections and
improvements to the system and support process.
         The implementation plan included an “Innovative Use of Blackboard” competition to be carried
out each semester. Blackboard courses would be judged by a faculty committee, with the winning
department receiving $2,500. This program will be initiated with the Fall 2005 semester as the Excellence
in Blackboard Award.
          Blackboard consultants provided training workshops open to all faculty, and OAT instructional
specialists provided one-on-one training upon request. NCS scheduled two-hour workshops for faculty and
students.
          Significant expansion of Blackboard occurred indirectly from activities related to the pilot,
communications about the pilot, and word of mouth: Criminal Justice implemented Blackboard modules
for all courses; the College of Nursing emphasized the use of Blackboard and converted several courses
from eCollege to Blackboard; Public Administration migrated courses from eCollege and implemented
their certification program using Blackboard; and the Social Work Department adopted Blackboard for all
courses.
         Workshops and training sessions will continue to be offered and are planned for the fall. Several
sessions have already been scheduled with departments. With limited resources to serve the campus,
support efforts will continue to focus on groups of faculty or departments where the potential for significant
expansion of Blackboard exists. Actions that can be taken by deans to advance the use of Blackboard
include the following:
•   Set aside a block of time during faculty meetings for a training session in Blackboard.
•   Include a presentation of Blackboard by OAT in new faculty orientation sessions.



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Blackboard Implementation and Pilot Report
August 31, 2005

•   Require new faculty inexperienced with Blackboard to attend a workshop.
•   Require PTLs to use Blackboard for course development.
•   Recommend that faculty use Blackboard and take advantage of student mentoring support.
•   Promote the Excellence in Blackboard Award semester competition.




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Overview
         The Blackboard Learning System was first implemented on the Newark campus by the RBS in
1999 using software and equipment owned and managed by the department’s computing support unit. In
April 2000, a committee of the Newark Technology Advisory Council (NITAC) evaluated course
management systems for use by other units on campus. The committee evaluated WebCT, Blackboard, and
eCollege, the three industry leaders at that time. After presentations by each vendor and committee
evaluation of the features and benefits of each, the committee selected the Blackboard Course Management
system as the e-learning platform for the campus.
          Initially, the campus contracted for hosted services directly from Blackboard. At the end of the
first year of this arrangement, an agreement was reached with RBS to provide campus-wide access from
their Blackboard platform. Support for the backend system was provided by RBS, and faculty support for
departments other than RBS was provided by the Teaching Excellence Center, later supplanted by the
Office of Academic Technology (OAT).
          The intention and decision to promote Blackboard for wide-spread campus use surfaced the need
for the current release of Blackboard software, expanded and more powerful computing equipment, and
staff support beyond departmentally provided services. To meet these needs, a decision was made to
license the enterprise version of Blackboard and to migrate support to central servers supported by Newark
Computing Services (NCS). (See Time Line for a chronological description of these events.)

Central Implementation and Roll-out
         The implementation planning team included representatives from units that would be involved in
design and development of the enterprise course management system and that would be skilled in other
aspects of project management, such as communications and training. (See Team Members)
         In February, 2004, the team met for one week with Blackboard consultants to define the data
required from central system databases and the integration process between the Blackboard course manager
and Rutgers’ student information file. This data was used to automatically create templates for all Newark
Blackboard courses with populated student rosters and to enable the submission of final grades from within
a Blackboard course using a roster grade table.
          Implementation and pilot testing was targeted to begin with the Fall 2004 semester and grade
upload to be ready for December 2004. The Blackboard course manager was installed and ready for use
during Summer Session 2004. Five instructors developed Blackboard courses during this session, although
the official pilot did not begin until the fall.

Grade Book Upload Customization
          Customized code for grade submission was developed by Blackboard consultants for local
installation in the Blackboard course manager. This function enabled faculty to enter their final course
grades directly from their Blackboard course to the student information system. Its design and
functionality paralleled the design of web-based grade rosters. This feature was completed and
implemented for the December 2004 grading period and utilized again during the May 2005 grading
period.

Pilot program
         NCS and OAT implemented and managed the Blackboard pilot model developed by Associate
Provosts Harvey Feder, Gary Roth, and Carol Martancik. The model featured the expansion of Blackboard
courses through a series of FAS-N departmental pilots using student mentors to provide support to each
participating faculty member.
         Students selected as mentors had demonstrated skills in technology and personal relationships.
They were trained in Blackboard features and course development and assigned to a faculty member. Each
student contacted their assigned instructor to make arrangements for providing support and assistance with
course development at the convenience of the instructor.



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         The implementation plan included an “Innovative Use of Blackboard” competition to be carried
out each semester. Blackboard courses would be judged by a faculty committee, with the winning
department receiving $2,500. This program will be initiated with the Fall 2005 semester as the Excellence
in Blackboard Award.
         The Fall 2004 Connections newsletter featured an article on the Blackboard project using a student
scenario to describe the benefit of Blackboard’s online discussion, web-based course information, and the
electronic assignment review. Specific mention was made of the broad use of Blackboard by the Business
School and the Department of Social Work.
         Statistics tracking the usage of Blackboard and the grade upload feature were maintained to
evaluate results of the pilot program related to the expansion of Blackboard. FAS-N usage was analyzed
by department because they were the focus of the pilots. (See Blackboard Usage by School and Blackboard
Usage by FAS-N Department)

         Fall 2004
          The Economics Department piloted Blackboard during the Fall 2004 semester with participation
by 16 instructors in 27 course sections with 1,250 students. These instructors needed very little mentor
support because they were computer and web knowledgeable and quickly learned Blackboard on their own.
None of these instructors used the grade upload feature during the fall semester. During a review meeting
with several instructors and a wrap-up meeting with the chair, we received feedback regarding the benefits,
difficulties, and missing features of Blackboard. These suggestions will be incorporated into the system
and implemented as possible or sent to Blackboard as enhancement requests.
         In addition to this department piloting Blackboard in fall 2004, 50 instructors used Blackboard in
another 149 sections across all schools and colleges. Of these, 13 instructors used the grade upload
function in 22 course sections with 570 students.

         Winter 2005
         This session was not defined in the pilot program, but 4 instructors utilized Blackboard in 4
courses involving 61 registered students. These instructors did not use the grade upload function.

         Spring 2005
         The Classical and Modern Languages and Literature department piloted Blackboard during the
Spring 2005 semester. Eight instructors taught 22 course sections with 340 students. None used the grade
upload feature.
         This semester saw a dramatic increase in overall use of Blackboard by instructors outside of the
pilot program primarily due to the migration of the RBS courses to the central server. From the fall
semester to the spring semester, Blackboard course sections increased from 176 sections to 498 sections, an
increase of 183.0%; students enrolled in Blackboard courses increased from 5,246 to 16,290 or 210.5%;
and grades uploaded increased from 570 to 2,468 or 333%. Instructors using the grade upload feature
increased from 13 to 55 or 323.1%; and sections using grade upload increased from 23 to 82 or 256.5%.
                                             Fall 2004     Spring 2005      Increase
         Blackboard sections                    176            498           183.0%
         Students enrolled in Blackboard       5,246         16,290          210.5%
         courses
         Grades uploaded                        570           2,468          333.0%
         Instructors using grade upload         13             55            323.1%
         Sections using grade upload            23             82            256.5%




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         Fall 2005
         The departments of History and African-American and African Studies are currently participating
in a 3-semester pilot, Summer 2005, Fall 2005, and Spring 2006.

Training
         Several training options were available to the campus community. Training consultants from
Blackboard presented two days of training to all faculty in November and again in February. Sessions
included ½ day seminars on Course Management and Development, Assessment Tools, and
Communication Techniques.
                                                     November        February
         Module                                      Attendance     Attendance
         Course Management and Development                 22            24
         (2 sessions each month)
         Assessment Tools                                  13            11
         Communications Techniques                         10             6
         Total Attendance                                  45            41
        In addition, one-on-one and departmental training sessions were provided upon request by an
OAT Faculty Support Coordinator and 2-hour workshops were offered by NCS for faculty and students.
Attendance at the Education Series sessions follows:
          Type of training                 #   Comments
          NCS Education workshops          3   Workshops are offered several times a month. If no one
                                               shows up within 15 minutes, the workshop is canceled.
          OAT one-on-one training          4   Pilot participants as necessary
          OAT Departmental Training        1   Criminal Justice
          Total Training Sessions          8


Unexpected Advances
          The pilot program proved to be an effective model for expanding the use of Blackboard.
Instructors felt comfortable with the student mentor approach and enthusiastically participated in the
program. Unexpectedly, noteworthy expansion of Blackboard occurred indirectly from planned activities
related to the pilot, communications about the pilot, and word of mouth. (See Blackboard Usage by School
for a summary of totals by Department, School, and College)
        The School of Criminal Justice, the College of Nursing, the Graduate Department of Public
Administration, and the Department of Social Work were especially enthusiastic in embracing Blackboard
and supporting its use.
          After hearing a report of the Blackboard pilot, the Dean of Criminal Justice requested assistance
with developing a Blackboard component for all criminal justice courses. OAT provided training and
support for this endeavor, which was carried out by criminal justice administrators for the faculty. In all, a
total of 39 criminal justice sections were implemented in Blackboard involving 1,184 enrolled students.
         The College of Nursing requested a training session for all faculty and expressed interest in
converting courses from eCollege to Blackboard. Currently, Nursing has 10 courses on Blackboard with
more expected for the Fall 2005 semester.
           Public Administration evaluated Blackboard functions and features as a platform for their
certification course program. After an evaluation of the processes and the costs, the department migrated
all certification courses from e-College to Blackboard.



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Blackboard Implementation and Pilot Report
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        The Social Work Department adopted Blackboard early in the fall semester and has been an active
supporter of using Blackboard in all courses. The Chair of the Department was featured in the Rutgers-
Newark Connections newsletter, Fall 2004, as a proponent of Blackboard.
         During June, the Newark Blackboard team made visits to Princeton University and Montclair
State University. Both organizations have used Blackboard for several years and were able to share many
experiences with us. These visits validated our implementation strategy and system and support decisions.
We also learned that our progress in faculty acceptance and utilization of Blackboard is competitive and
our role out plan using student mentors is a model to be emulated.

Recommendations
         To assist faculty in the use of Blackboard, workshops and training opportunities will continue to
be offered and are planned for the fall. Several sessions have already been scheduled with departments.
With limited resources to serve the campus, best results will be obtained when working at the department
level. Consequently, support efforts will continue to focus on groups of faculty or departments where
possible. OAT will continue to provide opportunities for learning Blackboard and consulting in situations
that have the potential for significant expansion of Blackboard use or benefit of service. Our effort will be
more successful with the help of Deans and other administration. Some actions that can be taken to
advance the use of Blackboard include the following:
•   Set aside a block of time during faculty meetings for a training session in Blackboard.
•   Include a presentation of Blackboard by OAT in new faculty orientation sessions.
•   Require new faculty inexperienced with Blackboard to attend a Blackboard workshop.
•   Require PTLs to use Blackboard for course development.
•   Recommend that faculty use Blackboard and take advantage of student mentoring support.
•   Promote the Excellence in Blackboard Award semester competition.




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Attachments
                                             Time Line
        1999           RBS implemented Blackboard for department faculty
        April 2000     George Laskaris recommended Blackboard to Newark Information Technology
                       Advisory Committee (NITAC)
        Sep 2000       Newark Computing Services (NCS) configured and priced a Unix Platform
        Nov 2000       TEC and NCS developed an implementation plan
        Nov 2000       Deans were surveyed and estimated Blackboard usage derived
        Dec 2000       Dr. Caprio and vendor demonstrated features of eCompanion (eCollege)
        Feb 2001       Vendor demonstrated features of Blackboard
        Mar 2001       NITAC Executive Committee approved contract with Blackboard
        May1, 2001     Newark signed contract with Blackboard to host system
        May 2002       Blackboard hosting terminated; migrated to Rutgers Business School (RBS)
                       platform
        Dec 2003       Administration made the decision to implement Blackboard enterprise version
                       supported by NCS
        July 2004      Blackboard implemented and ready for summer session
        Sept 2004      Fall pilot began
        Jan 2005       Spring pilot began




                                       Team Members
        Ksenia Adamovitch           OAT
        Monique Bonilla             NCS
        Marie J. Botticelli         NCS
        Miguel Estremera            Registrar’s Office
        Harvey Feder                Provost’s Office
        Isaac Gottlieb              RBS
        Nath Kaplan                 NCS
        Joy McDonald                OAT
        Martin O’Reilly             RBS
        Carmen Pardo                Summer and Winter Sessions
        Cari Rappaport              OAT
        Gary Roth                   Provost’s Office
        Betsy Rowe                  OAT, Scheduling, Summer and Winter Sessions
        Jennifer Scalf              NCS
        Palma Sisco                 NCS
        Karen Swift                 NCS
        Danny Villanueva            Registrar’s Office
        Christopher Wawak           NCS
        Bill Yodlowsky              NCS
        Stephen Zhou                NCS




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Blackboard Implementation and Pilot Report
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                                                              Blackboard Usage by School

                                                          Fall 2004                             Winter 2005                     Spring 2005
                                                 Bb          Bb        Grades          Bb           Bb      Grades     Bb           Bb      Grades
        Unit                                   Sections   Students    Uploaded       Sections    Students Uploaded   Sections    Students Uploaded
        FAS-N                                    132        4,154       411             3           48                 169         4,955      52
        Rutgers Business School                  2*         73 *
           Newark                                                                                                      184        6,323     1,403
           New Brunswick (School                                                        1          13
           33)                                                                                                         60         2,605     729
        College of Nursing                        8          87                                                        10          398
        School of Criminal Justice                11        438          94                                            39         1,184     267
        School of Law                              5        182                                                         6          189
        Public Administration                     18        312          65                                            15          242       17
        Industrial Engineering-New
        Brunswick                                                                                                       15         394
        TOTAL                                     176      5,246        570             4          61        0         498        16,290    2,468
        * most instructors used Bb 5.0 managed by RBS




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                                                Blackboard Usage by FAS-N Department

                                                        Fall 2004                          Winter 2005                     Spring 2005
        Unit                                   Bb          Bb        Grades       Bb           Bb      Grades     Bb          Bb       Grades
                                             Sections   Students    Uploaded    Sections    Students Uploaded   Sections   Students Uploaded
        African-American Studies                 0           0                                                     0            0
        Biological Sciences                     13         255                                                     13         279
        Chemistry                                2         188                                                     6          457
        CMLL *                                   2          39                     1          12                   22         340
        Earth & Environmental Sciences           0           0                                                     2          307
        Economics *                             27        1250                     1          18                   15         577
        English                                 11         251                                                     11         264
        History                                 13         385                                                     9          282
        Honors College                           1          18                                                     1           23
        Liberal Studies                                                                                             1           9
        Mathematics & Computer Science           9         202        154                                          7          158
        Philosophy                              2          66                                                      10         306
        Physics                                 8          216                                                     7          142
        Political Science                        8         189         69                                          9          245        52
        Psychology                              10         361         58                                          12         399
        Social Work                             14         349                                                     22         487
        Sociology & Anthropology                4          178         77                                          9          422
        Urban Education                         2           36         38                                          8          151
        Visual & Performing Arts                 6         171         15          1          18     0             3           76
        Women’s Studies                         0           0                                                      2           31
        TOTAL                                  132        4,154       411          3          48         0        169         4,955      52
        * Piloted Blackboard Spring 2005
        ** Piloted Blackboard Fall 2004




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