One of the best parts of being a LIBR 203 Peer Mentor this fall has been getting to play with SJSU’s latest tech toy, Blackboard IM. I’ll admit, I wondered if I would feel cluttered having yet another window open on my desktop while attempting to study online. Now, I simply wish that I’d had this great tool two years ago when I started the program. All you new SLISers are lucky ducks! One of the most difficult aspects of online education is feeling isolated from your classmates. Attending live Elluminate sessions in class and hitting up as many local student library get-togethers helps alleviate some of that feeling. Now, Bb IM gives me a sense of being connected anytime, or at least whenever I am literally connected online. No matter what time of the day or night that I have been working on a course, there is always at least one fellow classmate online as well. It’s a comforting feeling knowing that I’m not the only one burning the midnight oil.
I got a sense of this in my first year while taking LIBR 246 with Meredith Farkas. As it was a course on Web 2.0, all students were required to have Twitter accounts for the semester. I loved the realtime updates from classmates, especially in the days leading up to an assignment deadline. I particularly fancied living vicariously through a fellow classmate that kept me informed of the latest and greatest (or rather, worst) movie on SyFy while we worked across the country from one another.
However, now with Bb IM it won’t be just one course that I’m connected to, but rather all (or hopefully all) of my classmates and instructors. If you’re hesitant to add yet another application to your online education arsenal, I definitely encourage you to try out Bb IM and even set it to launch when you start your computer. If you see other classmates online, it just might be the motivation you need on days when you’re feeling sluggish. I know that when I’ve been a bit tired and was tempted to get some shuteye in lieu of what-I-really-should-be-doing it has helped immensely. Oh, and one more handy dandy tip before I go: add your classmates that you work with this semester to your favorites list (click on the plus icon next to their name and it turns into a smiley face!) and you’ll easily be able to K.I.T. the following semester.