As a BB system administrator I’m used to being on the receiving end of perceived problems rather than lavish praise. After all, it’s only when something doesn’t work that it gets attention – which is then usually from a negative point of view. You don’t praise a tool when it lets you down. But in all fairness, many criticisms of BB do turn out to be explainable errors. As a VLE it’s well embedded across the institution with the majority of courses having a presence and plenty of innovative online collaborative learning experiences.
It takes time to embed change. The move from the Virtual Campus involved a different way of working with different systems integration – it wasn’t going to happen overnight and it didn’t. But we’re getting there and the majority of staff now use BB on a regular basis.
I feel the need to defend BB from its critics. Yes – it’s a corporate behemoth of VLE but we don’t use it to its full capacity. Yes – it’s not the most visually exciting of environments but it isn’t meant to be, it’s a means to an end, not the end itself – that comes from the ways in which it is used. And yes, it may look like a repository of digital documents, but that shouldn’t be used against it. The recent JISC 3 R’s report Recruitment Retention Results supports the provision of electronic information saying
‘Resources in digital format (even simply class lecture notes) are inherently more flexible and accessible than paper-based resources, supporting differentiation and a range of learning styles.’
So uploading documents to BB is good practice, it’s supporting diversity and enabling users to take advantage of the inherent flexibility of digital data to be customised and personalised to suit individual preferences.
We should be proud of BB. There are a great team of people supporting it and we should take advantage of its affordances rather than being overly critical. At the end of the day it does what it’s meant to do and talking to staff and students across the university shows that – it does it quite well.