LiveBinders Case Study: One Expert Educator’s Creative Leap Brings LiveBinders Organizational Features to One of the World’s Most Popular Education Tools
Blackboard Inc.’s Blackboard Learn learning management system is used by over 17,000 schools in 100 countries, including by 75% of American colleges and universities and over half of K-12 districts in the United States. The platform allows teachers to create a cohesive web presence for courses that integrates assignment details, rubrics, readings, and other documents in a wide variety of formats.
Blackboard’s comprehensive approach to course organization, together with its back-end design, invites integration with other online systems like LiveBinders that can help fine tune organization to specific course and student needs. This flexibility of Blackboard allowed Dr. Torria Davis, Instructional Designer at California Baptist University, to take a creative leap and embed LiveBinders directly into a Blackboard Learn course portal, bringing the tabular LiveBinders system to her Blackboard pages. This tabular organization has helped students focus searches for resources by allowing course content to be organized in hierarchical categories, making studying more efficient.
Spatial Hierarchy of Information Facilitates Learning
According to Dr. Davis, LiveBinders’ tabular organizational structure and capacity for embedding documents minimizes distractions and can keep students from becoming overwhelmed.
Said Dr. Davis, “As an instructional designer mentoring faculty who teach online, I encourage instructors to use web tools that support their learning objectives by presenting content in manageable segments, with easy navigation and accessibility. The LiveBinders’ interface supports these ideas. Reducing the list of items in a table of contents minimizes feelings of being overwhelmed. Tabs allow sequential organization of content, which can be helpful for teaching skills that build upon one another.”
This organizational system helped Dr. Davis’s Blackboard students avoid having to scan long lists of links and tables of contents with dozens of items. For students, quickly finding the right resources for an assignment may mean the difference between completing the assignment successfully and becoming burned out by long lists.
Because each LiveBinder provides an embed code, Davis could integrate her LiveBinder in an *open book format on the Blackboard page. Students could then navigate LiveBinders’ tabs of content through Blackboard, further minimizing distractions caused by links that would direct students to resources away from the Blackboard site. This direct integration of LiveBinders kept students focused on the content directly in the Blackboard environment. Said Dr. Davis, “Presenting students with an ‘open notebook,’ like a LiveBinder embedded in a Blackboard page, reduces clicks needed to access content–and any reduction of clicks and links to outside pages will help reduce distractions.”
Taking Access and Updating Seriously
In line with Dr. Davis’s philosophy on minimizing distractions for students, making access to course materials easy for all students also means making content as readily available as possible, regardless of available bandwidth or access to the Web. “Because students have varying bandwidth limitations with internet access, reducing the number of clicks to access content is an important consideration,” said Dr. Davis.
And making instructor access to platforms easy is just as important. Dr. Davis found that the cloud-based LiveBinders system offers a seamless experience, no matter where its binders are embedded or shared. “When I discovered that I could update the LiveBinder on the website and it was automatically updated in Blackboard, that was a ‘whoo-rah’ time-saving-moment,” she said.
While embedding LiveBinders in other platforms like Blackboard has made course material more useful and accessible for Dr. Torria Davis and her colleagues at California Baptist University, the platform’s tab and sub tab organizational hierarchy lies at the core of its value. Said Dr. Davis, “Tabs and sub tabs are the most useful organizational feature of LiveBinders. The display of all tabs at once makes the organizational hierarchy visible to the student, and whether the tabs correspond with topics or training steps, the organizational structure is clear.”