WebCT, Blackboard essential to class competence

Emily Banks

“You will find your syllabus and all of your assignments on WebCT and/or Blackboard.”

This is what most students hear during class on the first day. For some freshman or transfer students though, this might leave them wondering what their professors are talking about.

WebCT and Blackboard are electronic systems run by the university to allow instructors to provide an online classroom resource. Instructors are able to post lecture notes, quizzes, exams, syllabi, schedules, videos and discussion boards on WebCT to help students be successful and keep up with their schoolwork.

However, Blackboard will soon be taking over WebCT. Blackboard is the program Iowa State has chose to replace WebCT because WebCT was purchased by Blackboard in 2006, said Jim Twetten, director of IT Services.

Students coming to Iowa State are expected to know what WebCT and Blackboard are before starting class, but that rarely happens.

Students use their NetID to sign into both of the programs. After signing in, students will be able to view all of the courses they are enrolled in that use the programs. For some students, this means they will have to use both Blackboard and WebCT.

To make the transition easier to Blackboard, Iowa State has linked students’ WebCT courses into Blackboard. This means if students have classes in both programs, they can simply sign into Blackboard and access everything.

Both programs allow professors and students to send mass emails or personal messages to everyone enrolled in a course.

Most of the teachers send emails out through Blackboard, not through your regular email addresses, so make sure to check your Blackboard messages on a regular basis,” said Jocelyn Perkins, sophomore at Des Moines Area Community College.

Other tools available on Blackboard and WebCT include discussion boards that allow students to ask their classmates or instructors questions, resources for the university, calendars where instructors can post assignment due dates, syllabi, and class announcements.

Current students are pleased with the way the Blackboard system works and how they are able to access it from their smart phones.

If problems occur while using either of the sites there are a few ways to fix them. 

The first thing that should always be done is to exit out of the Internet browser and re-open it. This will usually help with freezing or errors in downloading files.

If a problem continues to happen, students can reach the Solution Center at 515-294-4000 or refer to the FAQ on each of the websites.