Images for Blackboard

Gary Cote gcote at
Fri Jul 13 08:49:36 EST 2001

Scott Shumway asked about botanical images for incorporating into a plant
science course Blackboard course, and also for advice on using Blackboard.

With respect to images, here is a great source I stumbled upon one day for
biological images freely available to teachers:

With respect to Blackboard, I cannot speak regarding particular quirks of
that program as our institution has chosen to use WebCT for course
delivery.  The students really like it, especially biology majors
(non-majors like it, too, but are less enthusiastic).  They particularly
like being able to review images from lecture, to study tutorials I post,
to see answers posted to the tests, and (especially) to check their grade
at any time.  One student claimed in a survey that s/he was learning more
in her/his WebCT courses than in courses not using it.

As for cheating, I have no idea how to stop that.  I just put them on their
honor and hope it's not too serious.  In Cell Biology I have nearly 100
points of quizzes over the semester, but cheating is pretty pointless
because 1) each quiz isn't worth much, 2) they have lots of time to take
the quizzes, 3) they can take them up to 5 times, highest grade counts, and
4) I drop the lowest few quizzes.  The quizzes are not really intended as
assessment but more as a tool to be sure they read the chapters and
organize the material in their heads.  Each reading assignment has a quiz
that has to be taken before the class starts for that assignment.

My experience with the quizzes might interest some.  The first time I did
it I gave them only one chance on each quiz, figuring it was, after all,
open book.  However, so many did poorly and complained bitterly, that I
changed the policy to allow them unlimited attempts, figuring they could go
back and study the chapter a second time.  This led to many of them taking
the quizzes 30 or more times, making wild guesses each time until they got
a satisfactory score.  Now I give them 5 chances, the computer tells them
what they got wrong and they go back and try again.  Some of the questions
are matching, which is harder to guess at than multiple choice, and some of
the questions are chosen by the computer from a list of alternates.  I warn
them about the alternate questions, but it still catches some by surprise.
Try to avoid short answer.  If your system works like blackboard you'll be
spending a lot of time entering new variations on correct answers.  "The
answer was prokaryote, and I put prokaryotic cell and the computer marked
me wrong!!"


At 03:58 PM 7/12/01 +0100, you wrote:
>I will be incorporating Blackboard (web-based course management software)
>into my Plant Biology course this fall.  Blackboard allows you to post your
>syllabus on the web, set up a class email list and discussion group, post
>announcements, administer online quizzes which can be graded automatically,
>and much more.
>I hope to include an image gallery of slides which I show in class and
>which students can use as study tools.
>I also plan to give computerized quizzes which students can take outside of
>class time (freeing up about 120 minutes of instructional time).  I would
>like to include line drawings (leaf, stem, and root anatomy) which would
>accompany questions like "identify structure #1 and briefly describe its
>function."  Can anyone recommend a source freely available line drawings
>which could be scanned or cut and pasted into Photoshop?
>I would greatly appreciate words of wisdom from anyone else who has used
>Blackboard software or the opportunity to tour an existing Blackboard
>course site.  I'd also be interested in the answers to questions like "how
>can cheating be avoided when using online quizzes?" and "is Blackboard
>worth the effort, especially for a small class?"
>Thank you, Scott
>Scott Shumway
>Associate Professor of Biology
>Dept. of Biology
>Wheaton College
>Norton, MA 02766
>"Scott_Shumway at"
>fax 508-285-8278
Dr. Gary Coté
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Box 6931
Radford University
Radford, VA 24142-6931

Ph: 540-831-5630
Fax: 540-831-5129
email: gcote at


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