Blackboard 9.1 Feature Spotlight: Spaces

You’ve set up your profile in the brand-new release of Blackboard.  Great!  Now, what are you going to do with it?

One option is to set up a “Space”, which is essentially a tiny social organization with very basic features.  Anyone can create a space if they have a Blackboard account—it doesn’t matter if you’re a faculty member, a staff member, or even a student.   You can even create or join groups that contain students and faculty from both WPI and other schools!  All it takes is a bit of exploring—click on your name in the upper-right hand side of any page in Bb, and click on the lumpy molecule icon at the bottom.

If you haven’t joined or created anything, you’ll see an empty screen informing that you haven’t joined any spaces yet.  Let’s create one to fix that!

Here, I’ve clicked the “Create Space” button and clicked on the “More Options” button that appeared.  I’ve begun to fill in information about my solar system-themed space.  It’s worth mentioning the Privacy Options on the right, which show you just who can join your space and how, and the Invite People to Space input, where you can find users and invite them to your space.

If you clicked “Submit,” you’ll be brought right to your space.  From here, there are a few basic things you and members can do.  The main purpose of spaces is to leave comments—it’s very bare-boned, but you can leave comments, reply to them, and delete them (provided that you created the group, of course).

You can also elect to leave the space, or report it.  If it’s your space, you can delete the contents permanently.

After reading all of this, you may be thinking about how you can use this tool.  It doesn’t seem to affect any other areas of Blackboard, and it has very limited functionality—the only visible options are posting comments and changing the Space’s featured picture.  Students may find more use of this feature than instructors do–they can create project groups on their own to discuss assignments.  Unfortunately, without the ability to share files or photos, or post announcements or other items, other options may be more useful.

The most unique usage I can imagine would be to create spaces that are available to all Blackboard users, regardless of which school or Blackboard instance is being run.  Students from across the world could create groups for Physics topics and discussions, for example, or instructors could compare notes on teaching styles.

What’s your take on this new feature?  Have you started using it already?  Let us know!

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