My name is Chris Borales, I’m the on the Blackboard Learn product marketing team and I wanted to talk a little bit about some great strides that Blackboard has made in the area of accessibility.
Blackboard strives to deliver a quality experience for all of its users, regardless of ability. In fact, in Service Pack 11, we continued to build on the considerable progress we’ve made in the area of accessibility by becoming the first LMS in the world to achieve third-party verification of conformance with the WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0 Priority AA standards issued by Deque Systems.
What does that mean exactly for users with disabilities? In service pack 11 Blackboard has:
- Increased focus on color contrast throughout the application ensuring that contrast ratios meet or exceed the 4:5:1 contrast ratio requirements of WCAG 2.0 Priority AA.
- Updated keyboard navigation within contextual menus and list action menus to ensure they follow commonly understood keyboard patterns.
- Controlled focus when completing tasks within the screen reader view of the Grade Center, ensuring the user is returned to the proper cell in the main Grade Center table.
- Made improvements to the screen reader interaction within the ‘fill in multiple blanks’ question when building and taking a test.
These enhancements greatly improve the experience navigating within Blackboard Learn and completing key teaching and learning tasks for users with disabilities. See more about what else we are doing to make Blackboard Learn more accessible here.
“Making accessible software is about so much more than meeting the standards. We continue to drive toward the usable and enjoyable experience for everyone,” notes Vice President of User Experience Stephanie Weeks.
With Blackboard Learn 9.1 we continue to provide all users a quality experience, and you can expect some great things to come as we move forward in 2013.
To make it easier for institutions to manage classroom information from their administrative and academic systems, Blackboard Learn is partnering with another of the industry’s leading educational products, Colleague by Ellucian.
Introducing Ellucian Colleague Intelligent Learning Platform for Blackboard Learn.
“We are always trying to create improvements in the overall learning experience,” said Jessica Finnefrock, Senior Vice President of Product Strategy and Development at Blackboard. “This partnership is part of our commitment to help our clients get the most out of their technology investments and our mission to create more open and interoperable frameworks for education technology.”
The following is a guest blog post with Terry Patterson. Terry is the Blackboard Learn system administrator at the University of Missouri. As a seasoned Blackboard Learn veteran of nine years, he started a blog called Blackboardguru.com where he provides valuable insight to other Blackboard Learn system administrators.
Whether you’re just getting started as a Blackboard System Administrator or are a veteran like myself, here are three pieces of information to take with you on your LMS journey:
- Learn by doing. When I started my work as a Blackboard admin, I never attended official training for the first year or so. While I highly recommend getting training, it’s the time and effort that you spend learning about Blackboard that will make you a lifesaver to a faculty member or student. It’s been almost 10 years since I first logged into Blackboard and everyday I’m still learning something new about it.
The following is an interview with Terry Patterson on how he super-uses LMS, Blackboard Learn. Terry is the Blackboard Learn system administrator at the University of Missouri. As a seasoned Blackboard Learn veteran of nine years, he started a blog called Blackboardguru.com where he provides valuable insight to other Blackboard Learn system administrators.
What tools do you use that quickly improve the quality of Blackboard as an LMS?
Building blocks are essentially extensions of the Blackboard Learn environment and play an important part in Blackboard at the University of Missouri. I use Building Blocks to connect Blackboard Learn to third party tools like Blackboard Collaborate, Tegrity, and Kaltura. I also use administrative Building Blocks like the Admin Console, Impersonate, and BbStats in my daily work.
Blackboard Learn’s official release strategy has been to reserve odd-numbered service pack releases to maintenance and patches, but Blackboard Learn 9.1 Service Pack 9 changes up the model a bit. Service Pack 9 includes some features and enhancements that system administrators, other support staff and faculty will appreciate.
These features and enhancements include: support for the Common Cartridge 1.2 standard, a new Administrator Console, security and privacy enhancements as well as an update to the rubric feature.
Common Cartridge 1.2
I’m usually the guy that touts Blackboard’s continual support of LMS industry standards. With this release I’m proud to announce that, as of Service Pack 9, Blackboard Learn will support the Common Cartridge 1.2 standard. Common Cartridge 1.2 allows users to export their course content including Basic LTI integrations and standards aligned content.