Submitted by: Janet Wortman
The 2011/2012 college catalog will contain a new warning to students under the heading of Emerging Technologies. We will not support students or faculty members who use wireless connections when working on Blackboard. We have come to this decision after receiving many complaints from students that their connections to the Blackboard server was being dropped during critical times such as taking a test or submitting an assignment. This issue is not a Blackboard issue but an issue with fluctuating signal strength over which we have no control.
Let me put this in perspective. After the decision was made not to support wireless connections to Blackboard I found myself sitting at my kitchen table using my wireless laptop to take a quiz in an online history course. I had been working in the online course for about an hour without experiencing any technical problems. I completed the quiz and hit Save and Submit and watched as my laptop churned away. One minute went by, then two minutes and then two and a half minutes while my quiz was frozen in time. Since I only had five minutes to complete this very short two question quiz I needed to spring into action. I jumped up from the kitchen table, grabbed my laptop and ran upstairs almost tripping over my golden retriever. Now three minutes had elapsed. “Get out of my way!” I screamed at my husband as I ran into our home office. Now three and a half minutes had elapsed. I turned on my desktop computer and waited in horror as it slowly booted up. It seemed like it was taking forever. Finally, sitting at my desktop machine which has a hard wired connection to the Internet, I opened a browser (Firefox of course), logged on Blackboard and entered my history class. I had just enough time to hit the Save and Submit button before the five minute deadline. Why had I not taken my own advice?
Wireless connections can be impacted by interference from other devices in your home like your cell phone or even solar garden lights. Weak signals can also be caused by physical obstructions like walls or ceilings. Placing a router near large metal objects, near a fish tank or bathroom or electrical equipment like televisions or microwave ovens will also adversely impact the signal strength. For more information on this topic see…