(cc) Flickr user: Bex Ross

Peter is the Diploma Program Coordinator and Facilitator of the fully online Diploma of Vocational Education and Training and Diploma of Training Design and Development. Thank you Peter for taking the time to chat. Following is a brief snippet of our conversation.

Peter on criticality: It’s so critical the element of design and making things user-friendly. I am curious as there are umpteen dozen other learning management systems (LMS) out there, Moodle keeps coming up in conversation that is something much better designed, and I think that’s part of it I guess, it sort of feeds in a way the alienation of online learning. If you don’t have great user-friendly interfaces and good design, that just puts people off. And I think Blackboard could well improve in that area. For example, drag and drop, you can’t drag and drop in Blackboard, yet it’s just such a natural expected form of interface functionality. That’s what I mean by Blackboard is poorly designed. There are umpteen dozen things you should be able to do in Blackboard that don’t exist.

Peter on Blackboard as a repository: I kind of think of Blackboard as a minimalist position. To some degree hampered by the limitations of Blackboard itself. I see it ultimately as a negative itself, I want to give students the opportunity to ask questions, to pose problems, to challenge their learning, to challenge their understanding of the topic we are covering, so I think Blackboard’s strengths seem to lie as a one way channel of communication, as a classic lecture format, as in here’s the information, absorb it. I have the constructivist point of view of learning, people best learn when they are engaged and active. I embrace diversity. I would like to have the option to choose a learning management system. Simply because as I get to know Blackboard more and more, I get to see Blackboard’s limitations and hear from other practitioners that there are other good tools out there. Now I can understand the university’s point of view as Blackboard costs. I know there are other considerations including privacy, and there is an investment in that LMS. However it would be interesting to actually allow educators the choice and opportunity to go with different learning management systems that suit them.

By the way, Peter uses Google Sites, Google Hangouts, Google Mail and Skype in his courses to stay connected to his students.

Interviewed by Erika Beljaars-Harris