Think, Know, Prove–Blackboard as a Transparency Tool

Think, Know, Prove is a regular Saturday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.

Yesterday’s post about Blackboard was intended as more of an informational post than a discussion post, but it raises some interesting issues related to the intersections of privacy and accountability. Lisa Delpit, who is one of my favorite education authors, writes that in most schools teachers operate much like two-year-olds engaged in parallel play (I think it was her anyway). Sitting right next to each other, a couple of two-year-olds will both play with a car or a block or whatever without engaging with each other, seemingly oblivious to the other (until they need something).

Similarly, we walk into our classrooms and shut the doors and “play with our block” in blissful isolation, with rare exceptions and have little idea what the others all around us are doing. This is good in some cases (rather not know) and bad in others (might be able to help), but ultimately it means lots of missed opportunities to collaborate, share, compare, and learn.

So, I kind of like the idea of being able to peek into each other’s classes. I am not naive about it, though, and have misgivings about the managerial surveillance implied and rendered much more convenient by the move to make our classes “open” to guest visitation and possible, subsequent pressures on academic freedom that such a surveillance may engender. I think it’s worth it, though, and good despite the risk.

What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?

One thought on “Think, Know, Prove–Blackboard as a Transparency Tool

  1. Oh I love the buzzword for this millenium “TRANSPARENCY”.In my opinion I think “TRANSLUCENCY” is more appropriate. When circumstances are such that the trust factor between colleagues does not exist because carrots on a stick are awarded to those who will bite then the “fear factor” and paranoia create selective transparency or translucency.
    Decisions made by committees are sometimes negated by the autocracy of those in positions of control and/or power creating an environment of mistrust,distrust and an erosion of sharing, comparing and learning, collegiality and collaboration are just words that look and sound good.

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