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OPWL Students Partner to Improve Blackboard Experience

By: Kathleen Tuck   Published 1:26 pm / September 3, 2015

BlackboardThe Department of Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) in the College of Engineering has partnered with Learning Technology Solutions (LTS) to improve online student support for the use of Blackboard.

According to Daniel Gold, associate director of LTS, the result of this partnership has already shown measurable impact for students and for the Boise State Help Desk. Gold reports that:

  1. On the first day of fall 2015 classes, the Blackboard student help website received 10 times more page views than the best previous semester.
  2. Blackboard student help resources saw more web traffic in the first week of class this fall than the entire spring semester.
  3. For the first time ever, student help articles are in the top 10 articles viewed across all LTS resources.
  4. In the first week of class, student help resources made up 11 percent of all traffic to OIT websites.
  5. The number of Help Desk support tickets (phoned-in or emailed requests for help) has decreased measurably over previous semesters.

Together, this suggests that while student use of Blackboard has increased, student-support materials developed through the OPWL and LTS partnership are able to successfully provide first-request support to students in their use of Blackboard.

Don Winiecki

The partnership between OPWL and LTS began when four students in professor Don Winiecki’s OPWL529 Needs Assessment course in spring 2015 conducted a needs assessment to determine what information, advice and coaching students required in order to make effective use of Blackboard before, during and after taking a course.

These four graduate students (Krista Welch, Cheryl Lockett Zubak, Jerrod Guddat and Gordon Hood) interviewed students who were both new to Blackboard and were experienced users, and based on those interviews identified a long list of tasks students needed to be able to perform fluently in order to use Blackboard effectively. A survey based on this list of tasks helped them to rank the tasks according to their frequency of use. Finally, the team of students determined what method of providing support to students would be the most effective and sustainable for students and the university.

LTS took the product of this needs assessment and built online “how-to” support materials and organized them according to criteria related to the context in which students would require them.

The systematic and systemic process of assessing and supporting performance as taught in OPWL courses, joined with the expertise of LTS personnel in developing, hosting and maintaining support materials, has made a match that allows students and personnel at Boise State to do more with less.

The support materials are available to students by clicking the “HELP!” tab at the top right of the Blackboard screen, and at