Upcoming Blackboard software to enable course evaluations

With profs chafing at RateMyProfessors.com, Blackboard will roll out new course evaulation software.

Blackboard, the leader in course management software, is developing software to help colleges and universities evaluating their courses, reports Inside Higher Ed.

Institutions, under pressure from accreditors, are looking for new ways to compile course data. Blackboard already has a good reputation for giving faculty the ability to customize the company’s products. The cornerstone of the new software is online portfolios that can be tracked in accordance with learning outcomes that are determined by faculty members, departments or institutions. The goal of the software, which is still in development, is its ability to compile data and slice it in different ways.

Institutions can create core sets of questions they want, for a course evaluation, for example, but individual departments and instructors can tailor other questions, and each level of the hierarchy can look at its own data.

There should be a way for faculty members to opt out of providing the data they got from tailored questions to their superiors if they want, said David Yaskin, vice president for product marketing at Blackboard.

It's hoped that implementing course assessments will take some of the focus off RateMyProfessors.com, the unrestricted free-for-all where over 700,000 professors are rated by anonymous reviewers. Blackboard’s approach is more oriented on evaluating the course than the professor.

“A lot of faculty members want to put this concept [of student-run evaluations] in a box and make it go away,” Miller said. “That’s not going to happen, so we might as well see if we can do it in a respectful way.”