Litrature review about black board system Essay Example

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Blackboard System: Literature Review

Blackboard System: Literature Review

The blackboard learning system is the core of the Blackboard academic suite that is developed and marketed by Blackboard Inc. The Blackboard Learning System (BLS) consists of a course management system for use in classrooms and an online educational assistance platform (Bradford, Porciello, Balkon, & Backus, 2007). Blackboard’s Learning Management System’s (LMS) main functions include course/content management, virtual classes, discussion board, and other collaboration tools such as blogs, email, podcasts and wiki (Badawood & Steenkamp, 2012). In Saudi Arabia, blackboard is the most common learning management system (Zouhair, 2010). Its wide adoption is bolstered by its availability and early market penetration (Zouhair, 2010). Blackboard’s wide adoption is similar to trends observed elsewhere in the world as suggested by Coopman (2009). Specifically, Coopman (2009) indicates that the “blackboard’s e-learning system dominates the online software market” (para.1).

To lecturers, the blackboard LMS (just like other LMS versions) has the potential to improve teaching’s collaborative nature by enhancing the student-lecturer interaction experiences (Coopman, 2009). However, the LMS has the potential of making lecturing or teaching a static exercise through textualization (Coopman, 2009). Lecturers however have the benefit of updating course contents, integrating multimedia applications, conducting discussions, and initiating or participating in real-time chats with their students. In a review of three leading universities in Saudi Arabia, Aljabre (2012) found out that the adoption of the blackboard system was preceded by faculty members attending a “blackboard exemplary course programme”, which is ostensibly a course designed by Blackboard Inc., for purposes of developing the faculty’s capacities in the use of the blackboard LMS. Through a preliminary review of literature, Badawood and Steenkamp (2012) had found out that faculty development programmes were necessary in aiding the proficient use of Blackboard LMS in Saudi Arabian universities.

To the faculty members in the three Saudi Arabian institutions of higher learning, The Blackboard LMS provided them with a platform through which they could hold classes, assess students’ work, and track grades for each student (Aljabre, 2012). Students can join their tutors in the utilisation of multiple tools provided by the Blackboard LMS in activities such as application sharing, real-time quizzes, whiteboard and the recording and playback utilities (Aljabre, 2012).

On her part, Rose (2004, p. 58 cited by Coopman, 2009) argues that as a mediated tool for instructors, the blackboard LMS does not acknowledge (or at least its users do not acknowledge) that the designed system “constrains instructional possibilities and decision-making”. For example, the structure of the hierarchical blackboard LMS cannot be changed by individual lecturers or learners.

Although the Saudi Arabian literature lacks precise numbers or estimates regarding the prevalence of Blackboard LMS and the hindrances or facilitating factors in its adoption and use, lessons from elsewhere indicate that technology barriers and technology skills affect LMS adoption for both lecturers and students. Barczyk, Buckenmeyer and Zamojski (2012) for example found out that students who encountered technology barriers (e.g. the inability to access or surf the Internet) were less likely to easily adopt LMS. Barczyk et al. (2012) further suggest that faculty does not fully appreciate the technology skills that learners have. The faculty is therefore more likely to use technologies that students are not familiar with, or which the students find too outdated (or boring) for use. Barczyk et al. (2012) also indicate that some faculty members lag behind their students in technology-related matters. In such a case, their employer (the institutes of learning) has to be willing to offer training programmes in order to enhance their technology competence. Instructors also have to possess confidence to use technology (e.g. Blackboard LMS), which is only possible if they attain high levels of competence in the use of such technologies.

In a survey conducted by Al-Mashaqbeh (2006) in a Saudi Arabian university in order to gauge student’s perceptions regarding Blackboard LMS, it was revealed that a significant percentage of students thought the blackboard software was a successful distance learning-delivery tool. Although some students had difficulties using Blackboard LMS at the beginning, their skills improved with time. Interacting with lecturers was however challenging for students who were using Blackboard for the first time. They however got accustomed to the new ways of tutor-student interaction as time went by. Initially, students featured in the Al-Mashaqbeh (2006) survey indicated that they struggled with using the discussion board and the drop box, and felt intimidated by the requirement to check new announcements regularly. Students also indicated a need for increased teacher-student interactions either through the discussion board or through e-mails. Some expressed a lack of clarity on how their work was evaluated and graded. A significant number of the students featured in the Al-Mashaqbeh (2006) study however indicated that the blackboard LMS provided them with a good e-learning experience.

In conclusion, it is important to note that while literature sources such as Zouhair (2010) indicate that Blackboard learning system is the most popular form of LMS in Saudi Arabia, they also admit that there are other more-user friendly LMS programmes. Moodle, ATutor and Saudi Arabian locally developed JUSUR are some of the few examples. When compared to open-source systems like Moodle and ATutor, Kogan and Neumann (2010) indicate that the Blackboard learning system is obviously a higher-priced alternative that institutions of higher learning in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere have to make. Blackboard’s multi-layer folder system for the management of course materials has also been criticised as constraining to instructors, who have to stick to specific pedagogies (Kogan & Neumann, 2010). Instructors who are familiar with the blackboard (versions 9.0 and 9.1) architecture argue that it allows for disorganisation because it lacks a structure for course materials (Kogan & Neumann, 2010). Despite its short-comings, the evidence herewith indicates that the Blackboard learning system is widely used in Saudi Arabia. Studies do not have specific percentages about the prevalence of its use. Similarly, studies conducted in Saudi Arabia lack specifics about its likeability and popularity among students. Some of the somewhat specific studies (e.g. Al-Mashaqbeh, 2006) are lacking in credibility and hence cannot be used as authoritative sources about the blackboard system in Saudi Arabia.


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