Education Services – at Blackboard? You must mean product training, right? Up until a few years ago, you wouldn’t be far off. You would be right to know us as Blackboard Consulting and Managed Hosting – providing product training and services to integrate and extend your Blackboard learning management system (LMS) and providing 24x7x365 hosting services for the same.
Today, I am here to tell you that we continue to do all that but we have evolved into so much more…
Recently, I have had a chance to stop and look at student retention from a 50,000 foot view while working as an educational consultant, on-campus as a Dean, and through many conversations and observations from numerous colleagues across the country (retention defined as fall to spring and fall to fall). There are two major points about student retention that stand out:
As the Technical Product Manager for Blackboard Learn
much of the work I do lives behind the scenes and has minimal visual impact on day-to-day Blackboard Learn usage. Today I’m excited to write about the new Visual Text Box Editor (VTBE) and Math Editor which are scheduled for delivery in Blackboard Learn 9.1 Service Pack 10. Upon release, the new VTBE would provide state of the art web-based text editing, while supporting Blackboard Learn™ specific functionality such as mashups! The VTBE and Math editor are used by virtually every person who edits content for use in a course or organization within the Blackboard Learn platform – a big change from features which generally are behind the scenes or only impact our system administrators!
Prior to my starting at Blackboard, when I was a client and administrator, I (as I know many other clients did) held some well-founded criticism toward the ‘old-VTBE.’ It was limited as a WYSIWYG editor and presented difficult troubleshooting scenarios for our help desk. Additionally the Math Editor had compatibility issues which limited its usefulness.
The Product Management team understood these shortcomings and began to work with clients on research and development of a new Visual Text Box Editor and Math Editor. Our clients provided us with valuable input on features that would take the user experience in Blackboard Learn to the next level.
Today, I am happy to say that we plan for the new VTBE and Math Editor to either meet or exceed those requirements. We plan to deliver a vastly improved experience for editing HTML and math equation content within Blackboard Learn.
Continuing Blackboard’s support of industry standards, we are developing the new VTBE on an industry standard for web-based WYSIWYG editors – TinyMCE. The new Math Editor is being developed based on forward-looking technology provided by WIRIS. The VTBE and Math Editor would be bundled and delivered in a way that enables the Blackboard Learn solution to provide maintenance and delivery of new capabilities in future releases faster.
Try it out!
Earlier this month, Blackboard and U.S. Congressman John Carter (TX-31) brought together Texas Higher Education President & Provosts for a Texas Higher Education Summit focused on 1) student expectations for service, content and personalization and 2) strategic ways to address challenges posed by today’s active student.
Held at Blackboard’s Student Services corporate office in Killen, Texas
, the event began with an afternoon tour of Fort Hood, the United States Army’s largest installation
. Participants met with military leadership and soldiers to discuss how Fort Hood educates and trains soldiers for the demanding and complex requirements of combat. Attendees participated in hands-on simulation training—and experienced the state of the art technology that enables best in class combat training. Participants walked away with a new appreciation for the core competencies required of our troops as well as soldiers who continue their education during and post-duty.
The second day focused on tackling the challenges Texas higher education institutions are facing today: limited budgets, expanded student choice, competitive pressure and rapidly changing student expectations. Presentations and discussions were led by institution leaders such as Dr. Ken Ray of Hillsborough Community College and Craig Maslowsky of Excelsior College, and showcased their innovative methods for making data-informed decisions to successfully tackle retention, progression and graduation challenges. The Summit aimed to help Texas educators improve educational outcomes, build a better education experience and ensure a prosperous future for Texas.
The National Rural Women’s Coalition (NRWC), a not-for-profit organisation, is using Blackboard Collaborate to reach women in rural, regional, and remote areas in Australia in a way they never could before. The program they are offering ensures that these women have access to information and training and are able to have a voice that the NRWC can then relay back to the government on their behalf.
Recently the NRWC was invited to showcase its programs at the Commission on the Status of Women conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. The primary themes of the 56th annual conference included:
- The empowerment of rural women through their roles in poverty, hunger eradication, development, and current challenges
- Elimination of discrimination against women and girls
- Engagement of young women and men, girls and boys, to advance gender equality