The summer break provides faculty and staff with valuable time every year for maintenance and changes, and the Web Integration and Programming department and the Adams Center for Learning and Teaching took advantage of the three-month lull. High-profile ventures, such as the Mobile Learning Initiative, received due attention, but other, less glamorous projects were tended to, as well.
The Blackboard and Webfiles tabs on myACU underwent several adjustments to improve functionality. James Langford, director of Web Integration and Programming, said many of the changes were subtle.
“Webfiles is not a Google product,” Langford said. “We wanted it all to look like one big system, so we have patterned myACU after Google.”
Feedback from faculty and student focus groups sponsored two years ago by the Adams Center had a direct impact on this year’s improvements. The buttons at the top of the Webfiles interface were modified, a group folder was added for professors and teacher’s assistants to more easily communicate with students and a trashcan was created in each class folder to make it easier for users to locate deleted files.
In addition to improving myACU’s Webfiles, the Web Integration and Programming department upgraded Blackboard. Blackboard changes will be even harder to spot.
Hab Adkins, manager of programming and support in Web Integration and Programming, said the upgrade “fixed a few known bugs, but for the most part it will look and operate as it did during the spring and summer.”
Mobile technology has encroached on territory once dominated by platforms like Blackboard. Students now can receive immediate announcements and assignments on the go. Langford acknowledged that ACU’s mobile learning technology offers many of the same services, but said Blackboard still has a few unique ones to offer.
“We have got such a history with Blackboard; most teachers on campus have used it at one time or another,” Langford said. “In addition to just having a lot of course materials in place, it does things like quizzes and grade books.”
Blackboard did not add any noteworthy features, but this summer’s upgrade increased the platform’s stability and speed.