Even as instructors create increasingly rich, deep and comprehensive learning experiences in their online environments, there is a growing challenge to keep students focused on the information and activities key to ensuring their success. With the distractions and noise surrounding their busy off- and online lives bombarding them from all angles, educators are facing a crisis in student engagement. Blackboard is working to help meet this challenge and simplify access to information through Project NG.
Through Project NG we are working on providing students (and instructors, too) an aggregated view of the important activities and deadlines across all the courses they are involved in, making their Blackboard experience more efficient and helping users to be more successful.
Further, this information should be available to students and instructors in channels beyond the Backboard application. Students may check Blackboard once or twice per day, but they may check their smartphones every few minutes and their Facebook pages every hour.
This challenge of connecting users to the information that’s important to them outside the traditional channel of the Blackboard environment is something we’ve already begun to address with Blackboard Sync. Today, Facebook users can stay connected to their academic life by using Sync to alert them to important activity in their Blackboard courses without sacrificing privacy or security.
In our increasingly mobile world, people also want information to come to them. That’s why we’ve included the ability to receive these notices via email as well, fully configurable by the individual user. But we’re not stopping there; the Project NG vision includes a commitment to explore delivering important Blackboard content via text messaging and to work on ways to optimize content through a variety of mobile devices, including the iPhone. We want users to be effective wherever they are.
But Sync wasn’t conceived exclusively as a Facebook app. We’ve built this service on a flexible architecture that will enable us to possibly push information to other personalized online services, such as My Yahoo! and iGoogle. Sync makes it possible for Blackboard to develop connections to the popular online destinations of the future, whatever they may turn out to be.
By giving students and campuses more options for connecting their academic and non-academic worlds, we’re empowering our users to extend the reach of education itself. And that’s a road worth taking.
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