Integrating content with an LMS saves more than time
“There is an ongoing debate in teaching about the usefulness of technology and how much do we integrate it. I love using technology; I think it is an amazing tool that helps me organize, and present information.” Professors like Dr. Anna Smedley love to use digital technology, but have also encountered its limitations. For example, semesters often get off to a stressful start for students as they try to learn to navigate multiple online systems with multiple login portals. Invariably, issues arise and professors spend precious time troubleshooting.
One benefit that professors across the country have experienced since the beginning of 2016 though, is the integration of Pearson’s online course content, REVEL™, with the Blackboard® LMS. Dr. Smedley was among those professors and explains what this has helped her solve, and what she can do now that students have one place where they can access all of their course content.
Anna Smedley, Ph.D.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
I am a teaching intensive faculty at a research institution. For me that is the best of both worlds. I really love to be in the classroom, but I also love to be surrounded by folks that are engaged in research, and innovation. I teach a variety of classes, from first year seminar for brand new freshman, to our research methods course for our advanced students who major in sociology. I teach many different courses, both online and in-person to all levels of learners.
I am a big fan of technology. Frankly it just makes my life easier. I love it because it enables me to be more creative, more quickly. Instead of handwriting and entering test questions, I can use technology to do that, and I can concentrate more on creative lessons, and modules, and things like that. I incorporate it into everything I do. I am always excited about exploring ways to relate to students, finding ways to make learning exciting and interesting for them, and fitting it into their lives. That is why I decided to use REVEL in my online Sociology 101 course.
In that class, I have three goals for students: to think sociologically, to learn how to communicate effectively, and how to follow instructions. One of the reasons REVEL is so important is because it helps me achieve my goal of getting them to think sociologically. They have access to the online resources in the textbook in a variety of different ways. It fits really well into their busy lifestyle and schedules. REVEL helps me get content to them in ways that fit their lives.
When I learned about the integration of REVEL into Blackboard, I jumped at the opportunity to participate in the initial launch. It was super exciting for me. It was super easy too. It only took about 30 minutes to set it up, and it was ready. At the beginning of every semester you expect to have a bit of a learning curve, for technology-based classes, even online classes. A lot of folks sign up for online classes who are not familiar with that environment. The integration of REVEL and Blackboard made those first couple of weeks so much easier. I had way fewer students who couldn’t find how to get started in REVEL once it was in Blackboard. I am not really sure why. Maybe it was just the familiarity of already being in class; it was right there, they click on it, and go.
Students online are detached from the classroom and instructor, but are still really worried about their grades, so when you have technology that they are familiar with they have a much easier time in the class overall. Since the integration, my students are much happier.
The fact that they go into Blackboard to access REVEL was also really helpful keeping them engaged, which was one of my goals for the online class. I don’t want them just logging in answering something and then logging out. I want them in the class over and over again. Continual engagement is really important in online classes because students can easily disconnect from the class. So it is really important that they come back over and over again, engaging with the course materials.
In fact, I can already see that they are completing more assignments now that REVEL is integrated into Blackboard.
About the Author
Kelly May is the strategic marketing director for Strategic Initiatives, Science, and Humanities & Social Sciences at Pearson. In previous roles, Kelly has also been an acquisitions editor, product development marketer, media editor, sales representative, and eMarketing strategist.
In her volunteer work, Kelly is the managing director of the Boston LGBT Film Festival. She joined the film festival in spring 2011.
Additionally, Kelly is an entertainment reviewer for Edge Media Network, where she reviews performances in the Greater Boston area.
Kelly has been in Boston since 2002 and has always been active in community building, through her work with neighborhood associations and volunteering.