Guest post by Paul Roberge I’m very excited to head to Indiana to attend the Virtual School Sympsoiusm (VSS) next week. For virtual schools, Blackboard Collaborate serves as a replacement for the physical buildings and infrastructure. Everything that a brick and mortar school does – from teaching, parent visits, conducting exams, to guidance counseling – can all happen online in Blackboard Collaborate sessions. Blackboard Collaborate is an education friendly, interactive, extensible and reliable virtual classroom environment that provides a student experience chalked full of collaboration and peer-to-peer interaction.
Four of our clients recently participated in a panel discussion at EDUCAUSE 2011 in Philadelphia to share top ways they use collaboration technologies to improve learning and increase efficiency on campus. I’m happy to share a recap of that session, Four Reasons to Integrate Collaborative Tools into Your LMS, from one of our panelists, Kara Monroe, Assistant Vice President for the Center for Instructional Technology at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Guest post by Kara Monroe, Assistant Vice President for the Center for Instructional Technology, Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana One of the things that I love about being a customer of Blackboard Collaborate is the sense of community within the client base. I love talking with other clients and potential clients about the products and how they can transform teaching, learning, and work at an institution. Therefore, I was so pleased to get the opportunity to speak on a panel with other Blackboard Collaborate clients at EDUCAUSE: Cory Stokes from the University of Utah, Phil O’Hara from Dalhousie University and Mike Scheuermann from Drexel University.
When we announced the “Collaborate for Good” contest, I’m not sure we had any idea of the quantity or quality of submissions that we would receive. Over 500 people joined the WeCollaborate.com site to either submit a proposal on how they would use a 50-seat Blackboard Collaborate room for one year to make a difference in the world, or to vote on the other proposals. Proposals came in from all over the world for incredibly noble work: a poverty awareness program in Haiti, a Greek social learning network, video conference medicine training from India, youth community groups in Nigeria, global connecting from Nepal, student tutoring in Nicaragua, search literacy training in Lebanon, environmental training from Alaska, a global music project, and on and on and on. In a word, this has been stunning.
It’s finally July 11! Just a year ago, Blackboard announced the acquisitions of Elluminate and Wimba. Then in October 2010, at Educause, we told our customers to expect Phase 1 of Project Gemini this summer – a new take at what a collaboration platform focused on all facets of the business of education – teaching, learning, and administration – would look like. It would inherit traits from both Elluminate and Wimba but it would be simpler, it would seamlessly integrate with the core learning management system at an institution, and it would fit the needs of educators rather than educators needing to bend their teaching style to corporate meeting tools.
The acquisition of DimDim this week has set off lots of talk about the importance of Web conferencing and collaboration tools. Salesforce.com will use DimDim’s technology to enhance their Chatter platform. However, DimDim’s current customers will see their access to the service end starting on March 15, 2011. For educational institutions who had built their courses and business workflows around realtime collaboration using DimDim, this might cause some disruption and Blackboard would like to help. We stand ready to help institutions make a switch to the Blackboard Collaborate platform made up of Elluminate and Wimba collaboration solutions. For those who’ve been using Elluminate and Wimba for a while, you know that we are dedicated to meeting the needs of educators by providing stable solutions that are supported by a clear roadmap and a dedicated team for development.