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Digital ‘BlackBoard’ offers resources to students, teachers

This blackboard comes with a mouse instead of chalk.

Monday, August 13, 2001

This blackboard comes with a mouse instead of chalk.

And, that means more future learning opportunities for teachers, parents and students, said Don Washburn, technology/curriculum supervisor at the Lawrence County Educational Services Center.

Six school districts – Collins Career Center, Dawson-Bryant, Ironton, South Point, Rock Hill, Symmes Valley – began training last week on BlackBoard, which is an Internet-based course authoring computer program.

The ESC proposed the schools come together to purchase the program that will enable teachers to place course content (resources, syllabus, assignments, and other materials) on the Internet, Washburn said.

The districts are also working in partnership with Ohio University Southern Campus, which is training district personnel.

"We’re going to start small and keep building," Washburn said. "Eventually, any teacher in grades six through 12 who wants to put a course online can create that course."

It’s a teacher’s helper, not a replacement – educators will have access to a Web site to set up online resources to enrich their courses or offer new ones, he added.

The first course offerings could be online beginning in January.

"Years ahead, I can foresee schools working together on creating a math proficiency course, for example, that everybody can access," Washburn said. "That’s what I’m excited about."

Bill Morrison, technology coordinator at South Point, called BlackBoard an all-star team approach.

The computer program will allow districts to share their individual strengths, and be assisted in their weaknesses, Morrison said.

The computer program can also help teachers share curriculum outside the classroom, said Rodney McFarland of Dawson-Bryant.

"We will be using BlackBoard and video to share courses with 28 other schools," McFarland said. "If one district has advanced calculus and another doesn’t that one and others can access the course."

Lloyd Bailey from Rock Hill and Gene Smith from Collins Career Center said all sic districts won’t have everything online by next year, but there will be resources for those who need it.

It will enable parents and the community to see what’s offered, too, they said.

The educators also envision teachers putting coursework online for homebound students, extra work for those who need practice or even harder material for those who need challenged more.