Mercy Upgrades Blackboard, Plans For Wi-Fi

Mercy Upgrades Blackboard, Plans For Wi-Fi

Mercy College has continued to make improvements to the campus in recent years with renovations and additions that make the campus more aesthetically pleasing.

Mercy has been continually evolving with the times by adding more and more technological features to the classrooms such as interactive learning tools, updated Blackboard Learning website and the expansion of the current Wi-Fi infrastructure.

The I-Clicker is an interactive learning tool that looks like a remote control.  I-Clickers have been introduced into the classroom to allow students the ability to electronically sign in and out, vote and answer multiple choice questions.

Mercy provides each student with a clicker, while other schools may require that students buy their own. The clickers work with subscription based upgradeable software. The I-Clickers allow for every student in the class to participate even in larger populations. The I-Clicker questions are popular with professors because it gives the instructor the ability to test how well their students are picking up the material.

The system provides instructors with a timed dialog window that counts the number of responses entered by students. The results of the poll are then displayed in a bar graph format showing what percentage of the class chose particular answers. The remotes allow for instant displays of poll results and have been recently used to poll students on their political views during an event for the upcoming election. The clickers contain a feature that makes being absent from class even more damaging and gives the professor the chance to see who is in the room even in a high population class.

It took time for many students and faculty to adjust to the new products. In the beginning of the semester, there were some minor issues such as missing clickers, dead batteries and outdated software, however after the initial hurdle, the clickers seem to be working and getting rave reviews.

Many of our classrooms are outfitted with Smart boards, which are interactive whiteboards that allow for professors to project and write on slides and images. The smart boards come with a digital marker and feature a touch sensor that allows for students and faculty to interact with the board.

Mercy Online utilizes Blackboard Learn to offer a online learning experience to both traditional and online students. The new blackboard comes complete with new features and an updated interface. One of the features is the ability for students to collaborate on wikis and allow faculty members to track individual student contributions to group assignments. Blackboard has updated the alert system and gives students the chance to monitor due dates and offers assignment prioritizing tools.

Monae Bailey is happy to see the initiative Mercy is taking to include online students in the improvements.

“I’m really happy to finally have a new Blackboard, because I am only able to go online. I’m really happy to see that the school is trying to improve for us online students too.”

Bailey a sophomore studying psychology, felt left out being an online student.

“I really feel like I’m missing out because I can’t see all the renovation the school has done but now that Blackboard has been renovated, I feel like I am part of the process.”

There is an updated chat and video conference feature that was previously not utilized due to the confusing interface and lack luster performance of the older model. Assignment submission has been upgraded from a basic empty box to a mini word processing program. The new submission box contains a tool bar with options that allow for formatting, spell check, and other standard word processing tools. Blackboard is also advertizing a mobile app for Android, iOS and Blackberry for $1.99-5.99 plus tax.

As of right now a major cause for frustration on campus is the lack of Wi-Fi in crucial areas such as in the lecture hall and Maher hall, though Mercy plans on completely overhauling their current Wi-Fi network.

The helpdesk stated, “Unfortunately, Wi-Fi is not ubiquitous at the college, yet we have a three year plan to roll out a completely new Wi-Fi network (pending approval).”

Students are excited for the Wi-Fi improvements.

“I’m really excited, that we may finally be getting Wi-Fi in the lecture hall,” said sophomore Amanda Lee.

Mercy College continues to make improvements showing the study body that they are not just a commuter school and that there are plenty of great reasons to hang out on campus.