The Forms and Functions of Teaching and Learning Innovations on Blackboard; Substantial or Superficial?


  • Vuyisile Nkonki
  • Siyanda Ntlabathi


ICT integration, innovation, transformation, Blackboard, Learning Management Systems, transformational learning, pedagogical innovations


This study is an Information and Computer Technology evaluation of the Blackboard Learning Management System into teaching and learning at an institution of higher education in South Africa. In view of the institution’s objective of developing a context‑driven, transformative, and innovative teaching and learning practices involving the integration of technology, the study sought to classify and evaluate the form and function of teaching and learning innovations on Blackboard. Using a case study research design and a purposive sampling strategy, lecturers making an extensive use of Blackboard in the delivery of their courses were sampled. Blackboard start‑up documents as well as open‑ended questionnaires for lecturers provided qualitative data. Content analysis and the extraction of themes were employed. The functional pedagogical framework and SAMR models were used as interpretive lenses for the findings. The study concludes that the nature of Blackboard innovations tended to be more superficial at the levels of substitution and augmentation. Limited transformation evidenced by modification and redefinition spelled lack of substantial changes in curriculum design and delivery. With respect to the functions served by Blackboard, the conclusion drawn is that the integration is to a large extent driven by management and efficiency concerns and less by interaction, collaboration and personalisation functions. The study signals non‑realisation of the educational functions spelt in the Blackboard start‑up documents. The study recommends a differentiated approach to Blackboard training by a multi‑disciplinary team.



1 Nov 2016