Heckles

Illustration: Brennan Bova.

Brightspace, the online platform that the University of Ottawa uses as its learning management system, is neither inherently good nor bad. Pretty much everything that happens in the classroom in terms of teaching comes down to the effectiveness of the professor.

But as with anything, there are a few notable exceptions where the proper use of Brightspace can go a long way, no matter the professor.

Three hour lectures without posted slides, simply put, are a pain. PowerPoints should be accessible to students after classes so that they can review the notes. This is particularly relevant for people who have difficulty taking notes or who require repetition for their retention course content.

And then there are the professors who post the class notes weeks later. This is not helpful, as assessments on that material are often long passed. Some professors label and order their PowerPoints in ways that just don’t make sense. Others don’t even know how to create different folders.

But while Brightspace can be another way that poor professors hinder the learning experience, it’s equally possible for academic life to be enhanced by it.

One great way to increase student engagement on Brightspace is through online quizzes. For example, giving students an unlimited number of opportunities to complete online quizzes can be extremely beneficial not only for their GPA but also for retention of course content.

An even better way professors can use Brightspace is by posting course readings whenever possible. Just think of how much sense it makes: instead of paying $200 for a course package from Rytec Printing, all of your readings are available in once place, for free, in digital form. With that $200 you saved you can buy a Dyson fan for your sweltering student house, half a meal plan, or you could invest in marijuana stocks and become a millionaire in only a few months. The possibilities are endless.

It’s also very helpful to have notes in digital format. It means that, the night before the exam you don’t have to skim through the whole reading looking for information about an obscure person, instead you can just type in that name on the search bar.

If professors want to look at practical and simple ways to improve student life, they should not just know the basics of Brightspace. They need to examine what benefits students the most on multiple levels—especially financially and mentally. Maybe then, we can forgive them for still referring to the platform as “Blackboard”.