YSU gets technical online
Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 21:09
Students in Ana Wetzl's writing class at the Youngstown State University Metro College gaze into computer monitors. Her students, like many across YSU's main campus, are using the Internet to stay connected to coursework.
"More teachers should use Blackboard," said senior Levi Dixie, a religious studies major.
Dixie has used other Web-based programs like Blackboard. He's never been more satisfied.
YSU has implemented much-needed technology improvements in classrooms by introducing new learning management systems to assist teachers and students.
Learning management systems are nothing new to YSU. WebCT was used for many years. However, in the past few years, Media & Academic Computing upgraded to Blackboard.
"WebCT was a lot easier to work with than Blackboard, but the new Blackboard 9 has a lot more options than WebCT and is much easier to use," Dixie said.
Blackboard allows students to remotely access syllabi and coursework. Professors and teachers upload curriculum, and students log on using their MyYSU portal ID and password.
Lloyd Painter, manager of technology customer support and training at Media & Academic Computing, said about 40 percent of all classes at YSU use Blackboard.
It makes it easier for teachers to use PowerPoint presentations and for students to get assignments, he said.
"[Blackboard] allows students to go on and look at their assignments on the screen, or they can print out a paper copy to have with them in case they don't have Internet at home," Painter said.
Students have the ability to link Blackboard to their smartphones and other devices to have on-the-go access to teachers' notes and upcoming assignments.
Painter said new features and functions would be available for Blackboard. New enhancements are projected over winter break.
The math department started using Pearson's MyLabsPlus in the summer. Prior to that, the department used CourseCompass.
MyMathLab is a series of online courses that accompany Pearson's math textbooks. Pearson, which publishes textbooks and other student aids, stated that MyMathLab has helped more than 9 million students at 1,900 colleges and universities nationwide. According to a Pearson survey, 80 percent of more than 3,800 students said the program helped them get a higher grade.
Annette Burden, the interim distance education director, said YSU switched because students' Banner accounts translated easily.
Students are also given access to the program 21 days prior to class start. This is important because on occasions when there might be a delay in financial aid, some students wouldn't have funds to purchase the textbook and program.
"We have experienced a significant increase in the passing rate since we first started using CourseCompass [and MyMathLab], and we are seeing the same results with [MyLabsPlus] since they are essentially the same product," Burden said.
Burden said online pre-tests allow students to prepare for exams, subsequently boosting grades and increasing comprehension of course material. These Web-based programs also cause educators to be "held more accountable in the learning process," she said.
Sophomore Jeremey Kollar said he found MyMathLab, particularly practice tests and problems, to be helpful.
"They can walk you through the problems you are having a hard time with, step by step, until you understand them," Kollar said.