Shall we sit down together, students and faculty, to learn the proper ways of Blackboard? What a strange and frightening system. I don’t mean to mystify or spiritualize what seems beyond so many people’s grasp, but Blackboard is just so alien. As I type ‘bb.utsa.edu’ in the address bar, I clench my fist and turn my head as if to receive literal blows from the warning sign popping up on my computer monitor. 

Once I’ve logged in, I lean forward, skeptical that all my classes have been pulled up. While I read through the 21 hours worth of courses, I ignore the stray geology class from last semester and the mysterious never-clicked-on E-library resource. I’m about to take a quiz; I’ve traveled to the UTSA library so that I might have some person vouch for me if the Internet suddenly crashes or Blackboard goes on the fritz. 

Once the quiz has been completed or the assignment graded, inevitably I have to try to make way to the grades section that may or may not exist. Is it too much to ask, too hard to program that I cannot have an answer to the ultimate question, “How did I score?” Even in the case where my grade has appeared, the score is diluted by the assignments that have yet to be given, which still calculate as zeros. 

I’ll wait to check my report card every few years to make sure I’m a good person until I’m old and grey. Finally, on my death bed, I’ll review my conduct in hopes of graduating from the school of hard knocks. This is similar to my disdain as I wait to see the grades I scored on the paper I gave birth to and the five-page critique. 

Perhaps there should be a course offered to faculty, teaching the ways of Blackboard. Maybe some kind of handheld computer could add, divide and multiply for me. If only Blackboard was spiritual I might have someone or something to blame for the countless and diverse troubles that I’m sure we have all experienced.

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