GVSU @Blackboard Photo Roster Enhances Personalized Instruction

Based on a project request from faculty involved in the Pew FTLC Strong Start Initiative, a class photo roster feature has been implemented in Blackboard to enhance personal connections between faculty and students.

The Strong Start Initiative, led by Pew FTLC Faculty Fellow Tom Pentecost, focuses faculty attention on best practices for engaging students in first-year undergraduate courses and important aspects of the college experience vital to student success.

The Strong Start Initiative highlighted the importance of making it a priority to learn students’ names and calling them by name as a recommendation for improving student success, along with being more approachable as a faculty member.

Introducing the Blackboard Class Photo Roster…

Beginning in August 2016, each course site in Blackboard included a class photo roster (in the course tools area) that displays the official GVSU ID photographs of enrolled students.

This photo roster application was brought to GVSU through the collaboration of the author, Dr. Szymon Machajewski, Affiliate Instructor in the School of Computing and Information Systems at GVSU, and eLearning and Emerging Technologies system analysts Katie Clark and Colleen Cameron.  Katie Clark provided key areas of the implementation, including automation and card ID system integration.

Dr. Machajewski has written many open source Building Blocks, which are plugins for Blackboard Learn.  Some of these plugins include: LoginAs for help desk support, a My Blackboard Amazon Alexa Skill for the Amazon echo, and BbStats that is beneficial to monitor and to track analytics of course design and student activity. A number of universities have adopted the same photo roster tool, such as the University of Illinois at Chicago.  The BbStats module is the second most frequently downloaded software package in the open source Blackboard directory with almost 14,000 downloads.

“Learning student names in a classroom course is important to creating an inclusive learning environment.”

“Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. The average person is more interested in their own name than in all the other names in the world put together. People love their names so much that they will often donate large amounts of money just to have a building named after themselves. We can make people feel extremely valued and important by remembering their name.” Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People – Open Photo Roster for Blackboard Learn – Learning Student Names

How to Access the Blackboard Class Photo Roster at GVSU

For additional information, along with instructions for accessing the class photo roster, please visit the Photo Roster for Faculty and Photo Roster for Students websites. For additional policy questions, please contact the Registrar’s Office at regdept@gvsu.edu or 616-331-3327. For support in using this new Blackboard feature, please visit the eLearning and Emerging Technologies website or contact bbadmin@gvsu.edu.

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