Blackboard misuse leads to policy change

GVL/Luke Holmes

GVL/Luke Holmes

Ashlyn Korienek

Often, students find it difficult to generate extra cash when navigating college expenses. In some cases, students find alternative ways that might even violate a few school rules.

Recently, inappropriate use of Blackboard and GVSU email occurred when students attempted to sell course-related materials without instructor consent. During the two incidents this semester, the students were contacting other students in a large psychology course, advertising notes for sale through classroom email.

Bradley Ambrose, interim assistant Dean of Students and professor of physics, said the third-party groups were caught when a student questioned the instructor about purchasing a study guide. The instructor contacted additional students until a consensus was made.

Ambrose said currently there is no central system in place to monitor email or Blackboard usage for this type of activity. He said the most effective monitoring is made possible by all members of the community speaking out when an issue occurs.

“The student in this situation sincerely believed that the study guide, sold by a third-party entity, was sanctioned by the instructor,” he said. “In the future, faculty will be able to be much more proactive, via course syllabi, in communicating campus policies to students.”

Ambrose said to help faculty and administrators take steps against those who misuse Blackboard or GVSU email, Sue Korzinek, information technology director and Pat Smith, associate vice president and deputy general counsel, have revised two changes to official policies in the GVSU manual.

According to the computing conditions of use, “Using university technology resources for commercial use is strictly prohibited. Such resources are to be solely used in conjunction with doing business for GVSU or purposes directly related to academic work.”

Additionally, the email policy states that “university email services shall not be used to send unsolicited commercial emails and such use may result in your account being disabled.”

Anyone who has been found to misuse Blackboard or GVSU email for commercial purposes could be reported to the Dean of Students. Ambrose said this also applies to those who are reported for academic dishonesty, student misconduct and bias or harassment incidents.

Robert Hendersen, professor and chair in the department of psychology, said there were two incidents this semester in the department resulting in one student stating they had no knowledge of school policy. Hendersen said with most cases, purchasing notes can be counter-productive for the student.

“It took a while for instructors to figure out what was going on,” Hendersen said. “It can be dangerous for students to purchase notes from another student. It depends on the quality of the note-taker, but in our department we don’t want students only memorizing facts. They should know the concepts.”

In addition, Ambrose said any student approached by someone other than the instructor offering supplementary course materials should never accept such offers at face value. He said this applies to whether they are free or for sale. Instead, the individual should immediately report such activity to the instructor or to GVSU administration.

To review the GVSU manual visit,