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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 139-144

Nursing students' experiences with blackboard

Department of Nursing, Applied Medical Sciences College, Taif University, Taif, Saudi Arabia

Date of Submission17-May-2022
Date of Decision10-Jul-2022
Date of Acceptance19-Jul-2022
Date of Web Publication22-Aug-2022

Correspondence Address:
Ahmed Saleh Alkarani
Al Mathnah, Taif 26521, P.O Box 2425, Taif
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/sjhs.sjhs_55_22

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Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has overwhelmed the nursing workforce through tremendous pressure worldwide. Therefore, the Ministry of Education in many countries had transferred the education system to virtual learning. Thus, blackboard is currently the main tool for delivering education and enabling the interactions between teachers and students. Aims: The aim of this study is to explore nursing students' challenges in using Blackboard, and to explore the advantages and disadvantages of using blackboard among nursing students. Settings and Design: This study used a descriptive qualitative study design. The study collected eleven nursing students. Subjects and Methods: In-depth individual semi-structured interviews were used. Statistical Analysis: The data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: The results identified four themes: high student satisfaction in using backboard; the positive impact of using Blackboard; learning obstacles through using blackboard; and students' desire for in-class education instead of the blackboard platform. Conclusion: Blackboard, through its current characteristics and features, makes education easy and available to all students. However, students do not prefer blackboard in practical nursing subjects.

Keywords: Blackboard, education distance, education, nursing

How to cite this article:
Alkarani AS. Nursing students' experiences with blackboard. Saudi J Health Sci 2022;11:139-44

How to cite this URL:
Alkarani AS. Nursing students' experiences with blackboard. Saudi J Health Sci [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Oct 3];11:139-44. Available from: https://www.saudijhealthsci.org/text.asp?2022/11/2/139/354165

  Introduction Top

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is recognized as a worldwide public health emergency.[1] Therefore, the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia suspended all education in universities, schools, and institutions.[2] Appropriate to this drastic alteration, Taif University had transferred all students to virtual learning.[3] Consequently, Blackboard is a widely used tool for learning and interacting between teachers and students.[4]

The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed the nursing workforce through tremendous pressure worldwide.[5] According to researchers,[6] nursing students are worried about accomplishing their degree efficiently to enable registering to practice as nurses. Furthermore, the studies[7] had highlighted the need for enhancement of online education for undergraduate students, especially the need to develop Blackboard. This is because the more online education is developed, the more comfortable and prepared students become. Likewise, students will manage with full investment in electronic learning, which contributes to creating an atmosphere with less stress and anxiety. The aims and objectives of this study are: (a) to explore the compensations and drawbacks of students' experience using blackboard at Taif University, (b) to understand the students' barriers and the challenges of students' experience using blackboard at Taif University, Saudi Arabia.

The utter transformation from traditional learning to blackboard learning has been an entire expedition for nursing students in Saudi Arabia.[8] The effective delivery of education to nursing students is extremely important, especially considering that nurses represent 41% of the Ministry of health workforce.[9] Therefore, the National e-Learning Center[10] had established criteria for institutions to distribute a virtual learning approach, approved by a competent authority to maximize the achievements of students during virtual learning. It is noteworthy to reference that most Saudi Arabian universities have adapted the blended e-learning models before the complete transformation.[11] Consequently, the blackboard learning tool was the most suitable learning approach used by universities, based on prior experiences.[12] Furthermore, it is important for nursing students to grow a strong sense of professional identity and this is best accomplished through cooperating through an energetic, operating, and stimulating teaching and learning environment.[13] To achieve those purposes, there is a need to have an enhanced understanding of the students' experiences with blackboard, and the strengths and weaknesses they acknowledge. Eventually, this increases the effectiveness of students' experiences with blackboard. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the nursing students' challenges in using blackboard and to explore the advantages and disadvantages of using blackboard among students in the nursing department at Taif University, Saudi Arabia.

  Subjects and methods Top

This study used a descriptive qualitative study design using in-depth semi-structured interviews using a blackboard platform. The University of Taif, Saudi Arabia represented by the Research Ethical Committee has reviewed and examined the research and contributed the approval under the application code: (42–0060 on November 30, 2020). Eleven nursing student participants from Taif University. The study's proposal and the importance of its objectives were published in the medical college of applied medical sciences. It was also published through student's email, with the attachment of the information sheet and the ethical approval from Taif University. Consequently, 12 students responded. However, one participant was disqualified, due to the student dropping out of the university before the interviews. Before the interviews, the information sheet and consent form were distributed to all students in the Nursing Department of the College of Applied Medical Science at Taif University. Moreover, it was ensured that all students who were willing to participate had read all the information sheets. The researcher also made sure that all their inquiries were answered. Before signing the consent sheet, the students were also reminded that participating is completely voluntary, and they have the right to leave as they please with absolutely no consequences or responsibilities. They have also been informed of their rights not to answer any questions. Moreover, the participants were advised that their responses would be anonymized for publication. The interviews were recorded, and the duration of the interviews ranged between 40 and 60 min. They were translated and the validity of the researcher and the cooperating researcher was verified. It was also ensured that the researcher laid strong emphasis on the correct understanding of what the students said by asking them once for reassurance. The data were analyzed using thematic analysis.

  Results Top

The number of participations in this study was 11 students, including 6 males and 5 females. Likewise, the range was from year 3 nursing students to year 7 nursing students. The age range was from 19 to 24 years [Table 1].
Table 1: Participant's characteristics

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The results identified four themes: high student satisfaction in using blackboard; the positive impact using blackboard, which includes the increase in students' attendance, the fact that blackboard supported students' educational achievement, that it supported student choices and that blackboard makes for greater flexibility and comfort in learning; learning obstacles through using blackboard, which include difficulty in using blackboard in some subjects, as well as technical problems of blackboard; students' desire for in-class education instead of the blackboard platform.

High student satisfaction in using the blackboard

All participants expressed that the blackboard platform is an easy and simple to use the method in the study. Moreover, it is not difficult and does not require training, which made it easier for them to enter the teaching environment without having difficulties, as quoted below:

“Although, I can see that Blackboard education is not suitable to me, but it was nice to use the Blackboard. I mean the Blackboard is wonderful. I can do anything I need. I can return to the same recording. I mean many things are organized for me, everything is clear on Blackboard.” (Participant 11)

“Thanks to God, I mean, during this period I did not face any difficulties, I mean, everything was easy and clear to me. Ummm, but I mean, I had a simple problem which was not in Blackboard, but it was on the internet. Sometimes the internet connection stopped. But either in terms of ease of use or access, it was very easy” (Participant 6)

The positive impact of using blackboard

The blackboard platform increased the students' attendance

The majority of students indicated that normal education at the university campus was causing an increase in their absenteeism rate due to many factors, such as the distance between home and the university, lack of or no transportation, and other factors. But using blackboard, the student attendance increased significantly, as quoted below:

“I was absent a lot in my study. Because sometimes it was a long day so I cannot continue, and I used to escape the last lecture. As you know I have not enough energy hhh. But now frankness, the percentage of my attendance is high. Now, thanks to God, I mean I have a device in my hand, and I don't need to move from my house. I need little effort.” (Participant 11)

“As I said at the beginning, that some students live far away from the university campus and it's not easy to reach to the campus. You know sometimes some circumstance that we cannot attend the lecture. I was having a hard time, meaning that I was late to be at home after college because of the transportation, I was facing a delay and I had to be absent. As for using Blackboard, nothing prevents me from attending.” (Participant 9)

The blackboard supported students' educational achievement

The majority of the students express that using blackboard has many advantages that contribute to their scientific development. For example, the most important is recording lectures. By registering the lectures in blackboard, the students can return to it whenever and wherever they want. Listening to lectures is a good method for those who lost focus during the lecture or could not attend at the time, as quoted below:

“The first positive point to me is the recording of lectures. I can return to a specific point that I find it difficult. Hmmm, I can download the entire content of the subject from Blackboard. The past year they used to rely on the students' leader at the same level. Sometimes there is misunderstanding or a difficult connection with us. Everything for me is much better now.” (Participant 6)

“I mean it is possible for me in case of any difficult lecture to go back to its recording four to five times and repeat it more so that it will be kept in my mind and benefit from it. Other than if I am attending a lecture and I miss a piece of information it is difficult to return to it easily.” (Participant 7)

Blackboard supported student choices

Four of the participants mentioned that the use of the blackboard platform opened wider options that were not available in classroom education. This is due to the limitations of the halls and their capacity in the college, as the system is obligated to them. But with blackboard, these capabilities have expanded so that one professor can take more students in his course. In addition, some students in classroom education are not able to register in two subjects due to the difference in their locations and their inability to move quickly between them, but with the presence of the blackboard platform, some students were able to register for additional subjects, as quoted below:

“ I swear by God the positives are many, and I see them more than the negatives. The first of the positives is that it is possible, in a class, a lecturer needs four or three sections to teach students. But with Blackboard, it became possible to teach them in one online class, so we can choose the professor and the appropriate sections for us.” (Participant 9)

“The advantages of Blackboard are many in terms of saving time, petrol, and distance between the home and college. Even you can have more than one course. I mean, as long as you can, because they have no more problems with students” capacity. Also, the availability of time, for example, the course in the main university campus and the practical in the other campus. This was an issue but with Blackboard no” (Participant 2)

Blackboard is more flexible and comfortable in learning

All participants mentioned that the use of blackboard has made their life more flexible and comfortable. The lectures on blackboard are more comfortable than in the classroom for many reasons, including the possibility of watching the lectures anywhere and at any time. Moreover, you do not need to get especially prepared, dress up in nice clothes, for example, for the lectures on blackboard. Therefore, the students feel happy with their extra time and minimal effort in learning by blackboard, as quoted below:

“I wake up in the morning and immediately see my lectures. It is not like go out of the house and you don't know when you go back. But now from 12:00 noon I finished my lectures and I take a nap and relax and woke up and have time to study.”(Participant 8)

“I swear by God, that I have now more time, thanks to God. I mean, we lose time when we attend the class in the college. We can get benefit from that time in relaxing, studying and reading instead of driving to and from college.” (Participant 9)

Learning obstacles through blackboard

Despite the students using blackboard correctly, and mentioning that it has many great benefits, nevertheless, they face many obstacles and challenges while using blackboard. The most prominent of these are difficulty in using blackboard in some subjects and technical problems of blackboard.

Difficulty in using blackboard in some subjects

A number of students indicated that using blackboard and receiving lectures in some major subjects was inappropriate. Everyone focused on the difficulty of practical subjects in nursing through blackboard, such as adult nursing and fundamentals of nursing. Some of them indicated their fear of understanding the subjects with high-hour credit that affect their grade point average, as quoted below:

“I swear to God, that some subjects are suitable to being in Blackboard, and some other subjects are not, for example, adult nursing. This is because these subjects are difficult, and they take four or five credit hours. Frankly, theoretical subjects, for example, nursing information, and nursing education subjects, that's no problem –we can have them by Blackboard. Honestly, I mean it is better; for example, like these pure theoretical subjects to be by Blackboard.” (Participant 10).

“The big problem is with some subjects which have a practical part, and because these subjects, I mean, you need to discuss with the doctor, you need to discuss many things.” (Participant 8).

Technical problems of blackboard

All participants were suffering from technical problems that occur during lectures on Blackboard. There are many reasons, including the use of a computer that may be disconnected sometimes for the update or the use of a mobile device and they lose focus due to a text message or the connection may be disconnected when they received a call. One of the major technical problems is also an internet outage due to poor network or due to nonpayment of subscription fees. It may be due to an update to the blackboard platform that causes the inability to use it, as quoted below:

“With Blackboard there are problems, for example, the Blackboard updates, your connection, or it is possible this is a time for the test; for example, that it cuts, and the net is cut. This means this is a defect that you are unable to change and you are not able to settle something in it, meaning it is not in your hands. With more than this, and oh my God, this is the problem.” (Participant 1).

“I like it, but many times the internet is cut off suddenly and I discover that I have not paid the internet fees. Also, when the doctor starts, I notice that I do not have doctors' notes in my screen, but I have seen many students writing in Blackboard and this distracts me from focusing on the lecture.” (Participant 10).

Students' desire for in-class education instead of blackboard

The participants mentioned that blackboard is easy and useful, especially for studying theoretical subjects. However, the majority of the participants in this study preferred attending the education setting over education through blackboard. A number of them preferred education to be present for many reasons, including increased concentration and increased readiness, especially in practical subjects, as quoted below:

“I mean, in normal education I can go to the doctor and I tell her this is what I understood, I mean, I ask her to explain it to me. When I am present at college, I cannot be busy with something (else) like when it is in Blackboard. No one sees me, so I grab anything and sometimes I lost my concentration.” (Participant 2).

“But I prefer myself to be in college. But some students, for example, are ashamed (embarrassed) with people, not like that. Blackboard will be better for them. But me no, I think normal education is much better.” (Participant 3).

  Discussion Top

This study explored the experience of nursing students using blackboard as a tool of learning. The results for this study indicate that the blackboard system is identified as an effective instrument for providing educational resources. It was highlighted as easy and simple to use in learning. The system was recognized as not a difficult or demanding experience. Consequently, the difficulties were alleviated for students to enter the learning environment. In-depth, these findings concur with studies which found that 86.1% were generally satisfied and somehow satisfied with online learning, whereas only 13.80% were not satisfied with online learning.[14] Moreover, it was also indicated that the majority of the students expressed that the use of blackboard has advantaged their performance in the university. It was discovered that recording lectures and gaining the ability to return at any appropriate time was significantly beneficial to the students. However, the researches had described that the lecturers held the view that virtual learning could facilitate learners' understanding of the content resources.[15] This is because lectures could struggle to tackle the students' questions in real-time. Moreover, it is indicated that one of the drawbacks of using blackboard, is the lack of attendance in virtual classrooms.[16] On the other hand, this study found that blackboard increased the presence of students in the lectures. The students explained that traveling distance and lack of transport were some of the drawback factors that affected their attendance. Likewise, it was recognized that students participated in blackboard more than the traditional lectures from the professors' perspective.[16] In another study, 73% of participants agreed that high attendance is reflected on good internet connection, time efficiency, and location flexibility of lectures.[17] Similarly, it was established that blackboard opens advanced choices for students. Thirty-six percent of the participants in this study mentioned that blackboard was capable of challenging the classes' capacities, and professors were able to accept more students compared to traditional classrooms. This point is also supported in a study where it stated that the blackboard learning tool contributes to supporting learners as well as faculty members.[18] In addition, lectures gained advantages, such as performing one lecture at one time for a larger group of people compared to the traditional learning. The majority of students in this study found that the well-organized design of blackboard features and the ability to record lectures were highly beneficial for their university performance. Furthermore, some students expressed their relief to have been studying through blackboard before the pandemic. Therefore, their knowledge of using blackboard and its features was well prepared. These results were also found in a study which found that most of the students have been familiar with using computers and Internet for educational purposes.[19]

Furthermore, some students had an average to good level of knowledge about blackboard, whereas it was only the minority who had poor knowledge about blackboard. Therefore, this study has found that before the complete transformation to blackboard learning, it is effective to apply the simplest subjects through blackboard learning. This contributes to adapting students to blackboard without impacting their learning.[4] Blackboard was found to be more comfortable and flexible in learning by the majority of students in this study. Therefore, they become more confident in contributing to lectures through blackboard. It was also stated that blackboard is beneficial in providing sufficient guidance during the teaching process in handling course materials, which leads to motivating students to increase their participation in lectures through blackboard.[18] On the other hand, some studies indicated that comfortable and flexible places are not particularly suitable for effective learning.[20] This study highlighted relevant complications which students experience through blackboard. The most explained difficulty is delivering the practical subjects, such as the adult nursing, and the fundamentals of nursing. These results agree with a study where it was stated that some of the participants revealed that when performing practical applications from a screen, using blackboard is ineffective.[21] This is due to the uncertainty of the accuracy of their practices, and the lack of professors' evaluation of their practice in real life. Therefore, it is essential for policymakers to ensure that actions are made to deliver appropriate standards of practical subjects through virtual education. Moreover, the other mentioned impediment is the technical problems of blackboard. All participants described being distressed due to problems such as disconnecting to the internet during lectures, as well as experiencing time inefficiency due to the web page refreshing during examinations. These technical problems cause severe disruptions to the students' academic performances.[22] Henceforward, researchers justified that it is important to develop criteria suitable for students who experience similar issues, to reduce the negative impact of blackboard learning on the students' academic performances.[18]

The students have expressed their desire for in-class education. This is because of the increase in concentration and preparation. They have explained that traditional learning is the most effective, especially in practical subjects. Some studies also agree with these findings, as it was highlighted that the participants miss the physical engagement and activities that occur during traditional education.[13] It is established that engagement and activities are important to deliver clear information and build their confidence in their knowledge.[23] However, it was explained that blackboard learning had the ability to provide virtual alternatives that could possibly lead the next generations of students to utterly adapt to blackboard learning.[24]

Based on this study's findings, the majority of the students perceive their experience with blackboard as a good experience. Most participants expressed their satisfaction with blackboard overall. They mentioned struggles with blackboard were mainly the internet used during using the app. However, the participants had described that their good experience overshadows the complexity they experienced.

  Conclusion Top

The majority of students were satisfied with their experience with blackboard, as they described the advantages of blackboard, such as increase in attendance, and the good organization of the app. However, the students suffer from technical problems, such as internet disconnection and loss of focus due to using personal tablets. Therefore, these issues need to be addressed and improved by further research. Therefore, this study is advocating the use of blackboard in learning. This study recommends using blackboard permanently for theoretical study.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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