My BFO of the Week

In getting set to start the Fall Semester teaching an online class, I have been totally revamping the previous course I taught (as you know from previous posts) and have been neck-deep in Blackboard. This week, I had a BFO – Navy lingo for a Blinding Flash of the Obvious!

My BFO – Blackboard may be a Learning Management System, but it remains teacher-centered and not learning-centered.

Now, I am not a Blackboard basher…I have enjoyed using Blackboard for six years. But it does have limitations, and one of them is that it lags the rest of the edtech world in features, particularly those associated with Web 2.0.

I was creating some discussion forums and saw that our upgrade to Bb 7.3 this past May had added a new feature – “tagging”

Well all right now!!!

Tagging is an essential component of user-generated material on the web, and is part of what makes Flickr, YouTube, SlideShare, and Delicious work so well. As described in Delicious (relating to bookmarks, but the same principle applies to pictures, videos, posts, etc.):

“A tag is simply a word you can use to describe a bookmark. Unlike folders, you make up tags when you need them and you can use as many as you like. The result is a better way to organize your bookmarks and a great way to discover interesting things on the Web.”

I thought – “Cool, now students can tag their posts and search other posts using tags!” This would be folksonomy at work in my class!


What I soon learned when I tried out a few threads is that students cannot tag anything, nor can the instructor while replying. It is only when the instructor collects multiple threads that a tag can be added. While this has some marginal usage, it remains Web 1.0 in philosophy. I put tags on my blog posts and appreciate when others do the same. Students have learned to search using tags. Blackboard apparently allows students to search by tags, but only the tags that the instructor has put in on the threads the instructor chooses. This is NOT a folksonomy, but a very teacher-centered approach.

I’ll still use Blackboard…but in many cases it will be a springboard to jump out of into the interactive world wide web…where I can turn students loose and watch the learning occur!

{Photo Credit: shoebappa – Nice picture that combines the concepts of “Blinding Flash” and “NAVY”!}

2 thoughts on “My BFO of the Week

  1. Gee whiz Britt. NOT a Blackbeard basher? Go ahead and jump in the pool, the water’s fine. I truly believe that if you try it once or twice you’ll see just how much fun it is. the fact that they deserve it is only icing on the cake. Maybe that is my BFO for the day. 😉

  2. Britt–this is a great example of how organizations try on the trappings of social media without really “getting it.” It’s like someone heard about this idea of “tagging” and decided it should be integrated into the system, but didn’t really understand the underlying nature of Web 2.0 tagging. It must be incredibly frustrating to keep smacking into these kinds of issues as you try to navigate back and forth between the two worlds. It’s like being forced to use DOS. My heart goes out to you! 🙂

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