Pierce looks to update notification and online management systems Blackboard and Moodle

Faculty and staff at Pierce College have become concerned that Blackboard, its communication and alert system, has become outdated and obsolete as students have grown to prefer communications platforms other than those offered the current alert system.

Blackboard has posed a major concern because not all students have been able to be reached to receive alerts. Students have received alerts through their LACCD-assigned email. But email has taken a backseat to social media day-to-day communication, according to Wendy Bass, distance education coordinator, at the Academic Senate meeting on Monday, Feb. 23.

“As times change, we have to change with the them and how we connect with students,” said Earic Peters, vice president of student services.

Moodle, Pierce’s current online course management and learning environment, is a free, open-source educational software used by professors to interact with their students online, outside of the classroom. Faculty, however, think there are better, more advanced, options to take into consideration.

An alternative to moodle is The Canvas Network. Unlike moodle, The Canvas Network requires the institution to pay for access to its services.

However, The Canvas Network is much more user-intuitive and user-friendly, according to Distance Education Coordinator Wendy Bass.

The Canvas Network, which launched in 2012, has attempted to engage students through social networking.

“Students don’t check their emails,” Bass said. “We want to go where they are, be it Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. Canvas does that.”

The Canvas Network could potentially fill in the multimedia gap left by the Blackboard notification system. Peters briefly mentioned in the meeting that there are features on Blackboard not being completely utilized, and they will receive help to efficiently use the tools they have.

Blackboard makes up 45 percent of California Community College’s alert notification systems. It is ideal to lessen the confusion of multiple platforms for colleges in the same district, according to Bass.

“We are making the push to have all California community colleges on the same platform,” Bass said. “With this, student and faculty can log onto one service and have all of their classes and courses displayed from all colleges. It would be an especially huge advantage for adjunct teachers.”

But online environments aren’t the only technological concerns for faculty. A long line is noted at the start of every semester snaking around the corridor of the second floor of the student services building from the financial aid office.

“We are going to be competing for students soon,” said Joe Perret, instructor of computer applications and office technologies. “We need to start treating them as valued customers.”