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What Is a Blackboard System?

By J.M. Densing
Updated: May 16, 2024

A blackboard system is a type of software application that allows input and collaboration from multiple sources. The system was originally developed for problem-solving purposes, particularly in cases where a difficult question needs input from experts in several different disciplines in order to be solved. The system works as a type of network, allowing each contributor to post information for others to see. The blackboard system has been widely adopted by educational institutions such as colleges, and is uniquely suited to this purpose. Blackboard learning systems allow efficient interaction between instructors and students by making it possible for educational content and assignments to be posted and exchanged, facilitating the flow of information.

Some problems are particularly difficult to solve, and require many people working together in order to arrive at a workable solution. In many cases, this may mean that experts located in different areas of the world need an efficient way to collaborate. The blackboard system was developed to address this need and it allows each person to see the input from other contributors virtually instantly. A metaphor for the system is that it's like having the group of experts gathered together in one room with a single large blackboard that they can each write ideas on for all to see.

A blackboard system is a software platform that functions as a network, linking the computers of each participant together. Each contributor has the appropriate software installed on his or her computer and he or she can use it to log onto the system and review information that is already there, as well as to post his or her own input. Data can be contributed in a variety of formats, such as written material, charts, graphs, or even audio or video content. In this way, with each expert contributing, a solution can be formed and fine-tuned, utilizing each one's knowledge base and input to arrive at the best possible answer.

Many educational institutions have adopted the use of the blackboard system as a learning application for instructors and students, as its flexibility allows it to be easily adapted for education use. Instructors can post content such as lecture notes, related videos, and even interactive features like subject review quiz games for the students to access from wherever they are. Students can post questions and comments to each other or the instructor, as well as posting completed assignments for the instructor to evaluate. The blackboard system can facilitate the exchange of information and allow both instructors and students to fulfill their roles in a more efficient manner because of the availability and ease of communication between them. The system is particularly useful for the facilitation of online courses, although it can improve the administration of on-campus courses as well.

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