Students, faculty reflect on a year with Trunk
Published: Friday, April 20, 2012
Updated: Friday, April 20, 2012 10:04
Bambrick said that she never used Blackboard prior to Trunk and communicated with students solely by email.
Bambrick was not alone. According to Siesing, the switch to Trunk resulted in a large uptick in the number of professors who created LMS sites for their courses.
Junior Sydney Rubin said she appreciates the Gradebook feature on Trunk.
“At least of one my professors uses it for grading, and that’s helpful because it breaks paper grades down by section,” she said.
Siesing also pointed out that Trunk’s project sites have been used more extensively, in addition to its course pages. Aikens said she found these sites useful for the writing fellows program.
“I’ve found [project sites] to be an easy way to coordinate schedules and to share and archive information,” she said.
Junior Ezra Dunkle−Polier said that he also found it easier to obtain materials off of Trunk’s sites for his classes. But he also noted that there was no one to show him the ropes when he started using Trunk.
“I didn’t have many professors show me how to use it, but it was pretty easy to pick up,” he said.
Rubin expressed a similar sentiment, finding some of Trunk’s features — including the “My Workspace” section of the site — confusing.
“I had no idea why that was useful, so I uploaded a picture of Bugs Bunny on it to be funny and to cheer me up when I do homework,” she said.
Overall, Rubin remained indifferent to the added functionality of Trunk compared to Blackboard.
“It’s not a huge deal if there’s extra stuff on Trunk — I just don’t use it,” she said.
Many students observed that Trunk’s success largely depends on how active professors are.
“This isn’t Trunk’s fault, but I feel like a lot of professors don’t utilize it as much as they could,” O’Hara said.
Bambrick acknowledged that she wants to increase her use of the site in the future.
“It’s a really good interactive tool, and it has a lot more potential than everyone is using,” she said.
Lecturer of Russian Scarlet Marquette agreed that Trunk has the potential to improve, particularly in the realm of classroom discussions.
“I hope that Trunk can eventually move towards [instant messaging or] chat forums and more personalized sharing platforms,” she said, adding that improved discussion through Trunk could help professors be more productive during office hours and review sessions.
Although she remained critical of the system, Hardman conceded that her complaints are relative.
“When you use a tool like this, you take for granted the good things. By this point, I’ve forgotten the issues with Blackboard, and now I’m very aware of my grumbles with Trunk,” she said.
Siesing said UIT is planning to implement some improvements over the summer after working with faculty liaisons to learn what changes needed to be made. She also added that, during the year, the switchover was met with much less anger and anxiety than she expected.
“We felt that if there was no armed rebellion among students and faculty, that we’d have been fairly successful,” she said. “And it’s been much better than that.”