Being my first DevCon, I was eager to soak it all in, then report from the front lines. I arrived early Sunday and made my way down to Oscelot Open Source Day. There is something energizing about a bunch of developers coding in a room – this is really where ideas become reality. It wasn’t just coding that I was witnessing, it was a fervent group of some of the best and brightest minds in the Blackboard development community interacting and developing solutions. Blackboard’s Developers Conference (DevCon) kicked off yesterday and the only thing hotter than the Vegas summer was the morning keynote session. John Fontaine started the conference by talking about the past decade of Blackboard Building BlocksTM development and encouraging the developer community with stories about new developments and exciting things happening with the Learn platform. John called Ray Henderson, president of Blackboard Learn, to talk about the future of the industry and how the development community fits into Blackboard’s strategy. Ray commented on the importance of community in the software landscape when he said, “People are looking even more to community and not products,” and with events like DevCon and community engagement programs like TechBUG happening Tuesday evening, Blackboard is continually providing outlets to help empower the Blackboard LearnTM platform.
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.
As more students take the leap into virtual learning, we’re witnessing increased discussion about student success and retention in the online realm. And as even casual observers of the conversation know, an effective and efficient mix of student services that keeps these non-traditional students from falling through the cracks is really important. But with a limited budget and increased enrollments, where should you begin? We asked virtual learning administrators across the country to highlight effective practices in student services for online learners – and with that information we published a short snapshot to guide other educators looking to better support students’ long-term educational success, which we’ll release at BbWorld 2011.
For those that missed the torrent of communication coming out of Blackboard recently, SP6 for Blackboard Learn 9.1 was released last week. As feedback rolls in, we are looking forward to BbWorld 2011, where we will be discussing the new service pack in detail. Traveling to BbWorld this year and looking to learn more about SP6? Stop by the Upgrade Center LIVE, Main Blackboard Booth and/or attend one of our suggested sessions. To highlight two BbWorld presentations that you just shouldn’t miss, make sure to attend “The Blackboard Community Programs That Shaped SP6” and “More, Better Faster – Effective Practices and Training for Administrators Using Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1.” Lingering after these sessions will provide a great opportunity to meet peer institutions who are planning, or already implementing, their installation of SP6. We hope to see you at the Upgrade Center LIVE, Main Blackboard Booth and our suggested sessions. Make sure to ask Blackboard employees about SP6!
Looking for a way to meet and build relationships with your fellow peers and Blackboard staff? Are you ready to partner with these same folks to help shape Blackboard technology and get early access to roadmap information? Or do you want access to the tools, resources and support that’s available to address your product questions or guide you as you upgrade to Blackboard Learn™ 9.1? Then stop by the Blackboard Community Programs booth (#600 and #601) at BbWorld to sign up for one or more of the free programs we’ve developed to support you, as a member of the world’s largest, organized e-learning community.