The Quiet Anniversary
BbWorld ’07 marked the first 10 years of Blackboard as a company, and more importantly the first decade of course management systems being used across campuses, in schools, and by organizations and government agencies. Learning using electronic technology certainly occurred before 1997, but only became systematic and widespread 10 years ago.
Many important accomplishments in the education technology have occurred during those 10 years, and last week the rooms and hallways of the Hynes Convention Center were filled with quiet pride. It was apparent to me that the education technology pioneers, experimentalists and entrepreneurs in attendance had established themselves on their campuses around the world. They and the use of education technologies are no longer considered odd; they are firmly part of the education strategy.
We are on the cusp of further industry advancements in which the traditionalists (the place-based people), those who cannot or will not employ technology to extend, deepen, and make more relevant curriculum, disciplines and community online, are becoming the odd ones out. Unless traditionalists join technology proponents, they are on the verge of becoming the black box technology people we once were seen as.
BbWorld ’07 in Boston was a memorable event for me and, I think, historical when viewed in a larger context. In this post, the first of a two-part series, I’ll share a few key memories:
With 2,500 hundred educators, technologists, vendors and staff in attendance, the annual Blackboard users conference held last week bubbled with activity. The gathering was particularly striking to me because e-Learning experts met and talked in person (exchanging business cards), and attended sessions designed to cover the best uses of the Internet and computers to teach and learn, train, build community, and measure and report outcomes across every sector of education.
Conference attendees included representatives from K-12 schools (some where kindergarteners logon to Blackboard software) to university systems comprised of hundreds of thousands of users with 24×7 access to Blackboard systems, to government agencies that train personnel in war zones. All these users met in Boston to discuss similar goals: accelerating learning, opening access, accounting for progress and improving quality.
Singapore is located near the equator in Asia, south of Viet Nam and at the end of the Malay Peninsula. If you fly from the U.S. westward in a grand arc, you will pass Tokyo and Hong Kong on your way. From British Colonial times until recently, this small island nation was distinguished by its mixed population, very representative of the greater region, and its strategic location to international sea travel and now air travel. Today, Singapore is distinguished because English is the common language and, more importantly, because the combination of technology and education is a way of life.
Singapore sees itself as a hub for the rest of the world. When I recently visited, an article in the newspaper reported Vietnamese families travel to Singapore for shopping holidays. Singapore is rapidly becoming the mall to world. Yet, there is nothing of the mall-like behavior seen elsewhere in its school children, college attendees or life-long learners. Singapore is an education miracle. There are several reasons for this, including several stages of national development and reflection, and now a thorough embrace of technology, change and flexibility.
Welcome to “R2N–Web 2.0”—shorthand for an interesting and lively video on the Web about Web 2.0 and the modern college campus.
I was fortunate enough to be asked by Casey Green of CampusComputing.net to participate in a four-person panel on what Web 2.0 means to the academy. Here’s a link to the Ready2Net Webcast titled “Web 2.0 Comes to Campus” (hosted by Cal State Monterey Bay).
The panel Casey hosted included: Mark Armstrong, VP of development at Oracle; Jim Ptraszynski, senior director for world-wide education strategy at Microsoft; Jim Edmunds, president of Ingeniux, a Web-based content management solution; and me, VP education strategy at Blackboard.
Is Web 2.0 a bunch of techno-babble or is it real?
I was recently invited to attend one of the education technology roundtables Education Secretary Spellings is holding across the country. This one was in California where I reside, right in the heart of Silicon Valley, a stones throw from Google, Apple, Yahoo!, HP, Sun, etc. It was refreshing to be part of a conversation designed to open the dialogue on education technology.
Scott McNealy, chairman of Sun, was promoting the new open source project he launched called Curikki. He is fired up about technology and education. Pat Suppes, the emeritus Stanford professor who has been instructing gifted students online in a rigorous assessment environment for years (EPGY), argued for increasingly sophisticated assessment models.
But what became clear in the course of the two-hour session is that the Secretary, who was accompanied by FCC Chairman Martin, is searching for what comes next for NCLB.