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Bad Information Design

Screen Shot
I have always had problems with Blackboard, the online course content system that UT uses. It contains a great amount of information and can be very useful, it is organized badly.
On the home page, they list every class you have taken since they migrated to Bb 6 in the Spring of 2005. There are no options to only show current classes or to even sort so that your current classes on top of the list.

Throughout the site, lables are confusing and clearly must be for professors too. There is a “Syllabus” tab for every class, yet perhaps only one of my professors have used that instead of the “Course Documents” tab. For each class, the student has to relearn where everything is at and when I’m in six courses, I spend half the semester just learning where my professor posts homework.
Last semester, I missed two deadlines because there is a “Digital Drop Box” to upload files to that is completely different than the “Assignment Drop Box”. I sent the papers in on time to Bb, but there were various places for them to go. The professor isn’t informed when a new file is uploaded so if you’re in my shoes, you’re only lucky that the professor has mercy.

The picture above is a view of the Announcements page. We’ll ignore that I have asked for the last seven days and it displays the last seven months. There is no way to simply click into a course page. There are three or four courses that have announcements on this page. To access that course’s content, I have to go back to the homepage, or to the “My Courses” page, in order to find a link to the content.

The site could be a much greater tool if there was better thought in place on how everything should work and how it all should work together.

By Brandon Kraft

My life is an open-source book.

2 replies on “Bad Information Design

I last looked at Bb about 5 years ago–when it was new. I was really disappointed with the UI back then. It’s a shame to see that it hasn’t really improved. Someday, I’m sure, these sorts of courseware products will improve.

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