What may have been the worst kept secret at Blackboard is finally out. Today, we launched Blackboard Learn™ 9.1 Service Pack 10, which continues the evolution of our learning environment. Between our teaser video, Sneak Peak Webinars and my now famous “between SP9 and SP11” line at BbWorld12, we have communicated key themes and a vision for how the LMS is evolving.
The user interface and experience ultimately fosters more student engagement and helps educators become more efficient. Consider what Mark Radcliffe of blendedschools.net wrote in his guest blog post:
“My Blackboard is my favorite SP10 feature. The first time I logged into SP10 as a teacher and saw that little red “1” in the top right hand corner of the screen, my interest was piqued. I found that without even making a click, Bb had told me that one of my students had submitted something. Within two clicks, I was grading that assessment. This same speed improvement affects students and is all achieved through a very contemporary look.”
Those of you who have followed me on this blog and on Twitter know my passion for design and improving the user experience. It’s for this reason that I elevated Stephanie Weeks to the position of Vice President for User Experience this summer, reporting directly to me. A self-described design-perfectionist who finds inspiration where others don’t, Stephanie was critical to building this release.
I’ve asked her to give you a behind the scenes look at how and why we designed SP10 the way we did, and what the early feedback has been.
From Stephanie Weeks, Vice President of User Experience:
My obsession with the user experience in Blackboard Learn is nearly a decade old. In my time at Blackboard I’ve witnessed the transformation made by turning the concept of “user research” from an interesting idea to a fundamental element of the product strategy. I’m frequently asked how it is that we understand what users want or need in the software experience, and my answer is simple: we watch them. What you’ll see in Service Pack 10 is a reaction to years of understanding how millions of educators and learners get through their day. We spend time with our users – not just asking them what they want, but observing how they do things, what tools they use, what processes they create, what habits they form – so that we can envision a simple solution for them.
When designing solutions, one would be a fool not to consider the most popular experiences being used today – Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and the like. Jakob Nielsen insists upon it.