Just last week I tuned in to HBO to watch the induction ceremony of the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012. Since I hail from Cleveland – the hometown of the Rock Hall – I always try to watch the induction ceremony as it contains a who’s who of modern music history performing numerous classics. As I sat on my couch watching the likes of Donovan, the Beastie Boys, and Guns ‘N Roses perform their celebrated hits from the last 25 years, I couldn’t help but think ahead a couple of months to when we here at Blackboard Collaborate will induct our own Class of 2012. Now an annual tradition, the Blackboard Collaborate™ Hall of Fame for Excellence in Collaboration celebrates educators around the world who have shown exemplary innovation and creativity in their use of the Blackboard Collaborate platform. In fact, last year we inducted six schools from across the globe into our hallowed halls. While there are no specific categories, inductees will have demonstrated excellence at a college, university, district, or school in using Blackboard Collaborate to accomplish any number of the following:
Blackboard Collaborate™ Connections Summit is in full-swing, and as we continue to dot a myriad of i’s and cross countless t’s, our entire team cannot wait to see so many of you in New Orleans in mid-July. The reasons to attend are numerous. We’ll unveil the latest enhancements to our Blackboard Collaborate™ platform. Our fearless leader Maurice Heiblum will share the considerable progress our division has made now that we’ve had a full year under our belt as a combined company. You’ll have full access to all of BbWorld 2012—yes, even its famous parties and keynotes. You can roll-up your sleeves and get your hands dirty with the current version of Blackboard Collaborate. And perhaps most importantly, you can attend nearly 50 sessions by Blackboard Collaborate customers from around the globe. And it’s always the customer-led sessions that are the showstoppers. This year’s Connections Summit agenda covers a variety of topics ranging from best practices and effective instructional design, to decreasing costs and adoption and implementation. And perhaps most importantly, several tracks will specifically focus on upgrading from Elluminate or Wimba to Blackboard Collaborate. For many of our customers, 2012 is the year in which they’ll upgrade from one of our legacy products to our shiny new toy, and we want them to have the smoothest transition possible. Therefore, in New Orleans, customers can attend an upgrade panel presentation featuring customers at Northern Illinois University, the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, and the Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences, all of whom have already been enjoying the new platform for months. There will even be a presentation by the team at the University of Missouri system about its upgrade experience as well. Further, we’ll again have a walk-in feedback room in which our Product Management and Support teams can answer all your upgrade and technical questions, and I’ll likely hold a meeting for anyone who wants to learn more about our cohort upgrade programs. As we say, collaboration is music to our ears, so we feel that New Orleans is the best place for you to learn from the Collaborate team and your peers about the future of the Blackboard Collaborate™ platform. Block off your calendars now, and I’ll see you in The Big Easy in July!
It’s mid-July. We return home from our annual Connections Summit user conference, energized by the unveiling of Blackboard Collaborate 11 web conferencing, our brand new product which combines many of the best elements of Elluminate Live! and Wimba Classroom. But despite the fact that it’s shiny, new, and clearly the best in the business, we still recognize the fact that we need to help our customers take the necessary steps to prepare themselves to take the leap forward and upgrade. We therefore decide to take a page from the Blackboard Learn™ playbook and begin our cohort programs. The Blackboard Collaborate 11 cohort programs (one for Elluminate Live! customers and the other for Wimba Classroom customers) began as 5- and 10-week programs, respectively, to help schools plan and execute a successful transition to Blackboard Collaborate 11. Since neither Elluminate nor Wimba customers haved had such significant changes made to their previous synchronous products, we felt we should provide some additional aid-and-assistance along the way, while also allowing schools the opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences.
To add to my post from yesterday, Blackboard Collaborate™ Connections Summit is in full swing. Yesterday was our first day of sessions, which are going great. I’ve heard high praise from attendees on the quality of their peers’ content. Sessions have been jam-packed. One session – by Sandra Mancuso of the University of the Cumberland – was so crowded the events staff had to add an additional 15 chairs. Valerie Schreiner and Annie Chechitelli gave their product presentation yesterday during which they unveiled and demoed the new Blackboard Collaborate 11, which combines the strengths of both Wimba and Elluminate in one powerful collaboration platform. Audience reaction was terrific with regular eruptions of applause. One tweet even said, “Either they’re really good actors or this is the best example of two companies coming together.” And just for fun, and back by popular demand, we added a night of good clean fun to the agenda, with ping pong and air hockey to round out the day. Keep following along on Twitter with #bbcollab.
Yesterday, we kicked off the 2011 Blackboard Collaborate Connections Summit, welcoming both the Wimba and Elluminate communities into one event for the first time ever. The day was jam-packed, our team was all buzzing, and we officially announced the launch of Collaborate 11 – our newest platform for collaboration that combines the strengths of the Elluminate and Wimba products. As you may know, we’ve been talking about this launch for some time since many people have participated in the development of the product over the past 10 months. In fact, during Maurice Heiblum’s afternoon keynote presentation, he noted that 85 institutions helped shape the new Blackboard Collaborate 11 with their advice and feedback.