A post from Jessica Finnefrock, Senior Vice President of Product Development at Blackboard.
Note to Readers: This is the
first in a series of posts drawn from a discussion with administrators that
participated in the Beta program for Blackboard Learn, Release 9, and who have already launched pilot programs for the new
platform at their campuses. In this series of posts, we will hear their
impressions, reactions and ideas about Blackboard’s new teaching and learning
platform. Roundtable participants include: Donna Wicks Systems Administrator for Blackboard, Kettering University, Flint, Michigan Santo Nucifora Manager of Systems Development and Innovation, Seneca College, Toronto, Ontario Learning Management System Administrator, Georgia Gwinnett College, Lawrenceville, Georgia Vice President for Enterprise Information Systems, Georgia Gwinnett College, Lawrenceville, Georgia RELEASE 9: FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Dr. Lonnie Harvel
Note to Readers: This is the first in a series of posts drawn from a discussion with administrators that participated in the Beta program for Blackboard Learn, Release 9, and who have already launched pilot programs for the new platform at their campuses. In this series of posts, we will hear their impressions, reactions and ideas about Blackboard’s new teaching and learning platform. Roundtable participants include:
Systems Administrator for Blackboard, Kettering University, Flint, Michigan
Manager of Systems Development and Innovation, Seneca College, Toronto, Ontario
Learning Management System Administrator, Georgia Gwinnett College, Lawrenceville, Georgia
Vice President for Enterprise Information Systems, Georgia Gwinnett College, Lawrenceville, Georgia
RELEASE 9: FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Blackboard: Tell us about your first impressions of Blackboard Learn Release 9.
Donna: I first saw Release 9 at BbWorld last year during (Blackboard CEO) Michael Chasen’s demo along with some members of our faculty who attended. The big thing for me was it just looks fresh; it looks more modern, more up-to-date. I can control more of the look as a system administrator so we can integrate that more tightly with our Web site aesthetic. Immediately after that presentation, my colleagues were so excited, and they couldn't wait to get involved. The faculty, just from what they had seen, thought, “Wow, this is going to be so much easier to build a course!”
BbWorld and DevCon registrations open this week. Recently we’ve heard from clients who’ve said, “BbWorld is a very valuable event for us, we want to go, travel is tough this year, so we need to make a strong case and Blackboard, you need to help us however you can to make it happen.”
We agree on all counts. BbWorld and DevCon are a big investment for us too. We don’t make money, just the opposite; we make a big investment in every attendee. Despite rising costs, we do it every year because of the huge training, networking and peer exchange value you tell us it delivers (94% of ’08 attendees said they’d recommend it to a peer). And we’re doing it again this year because we think these training and knowledge exchanges are more important than ever in difficult times.
I wanted to give you an inside look on some of the extra steps we’re taking this year to make it easier for you to attend and get great value. I’ll also provide a little context about the decisions behind the event so you can get a feel for the choices we make and why we make them.
Hello, it's Kerry Jo here from Blackboard Events. Planning for BbWorld '09 (in my hometown, Washington, DC) has begun, and we're all busy as bees here at Blackboard – brainstorming, putting together project plans and forming committees to ensure we have the right people working to offer the best user conference we can.
But we need you to make it happen!
I invite you to participate in making BbWorld '09 and the Blackboard Developers Conference events to remember. We're looking for a large and varied group of volunteers for the BbWorld Program Committee, who will help us:
- Develop themes and areas of focus for BbWorld '09
- Actively recruit speakers for the Call for Proposals (Have you seen a great speaker at a regional user event? Ask them to submit a proposal!)
- Review and rate submitted proposals in your area of expertise to help decide what should be included in the program, and then collaborate with others on the committee with similar expertise to help choose the best program content
- Be a sounding board and active participant for ideas ranging from post-conference networking to live conference blogging
Last year 50 clients participated! Fifty active, engaged peers of yours materially impacted what attendees saw and heard at the conference. So if you have a voice and you want to be heard . . . well, this is your chance. Help us make BbWorld what YOU want it to be!
With so many clients involved in the process, I don't anticipate participation to take more than a few hours of your time over the next few months. You and your program committee colleagues will be featured in the program and at the event as leaders in the user community. And I hope it will be an opportunity for you to meet your professional development goals by taking a leadership role in this event.
Does this sound interesting to you? Feel like participating? Please e-mail me at BbWorld@blackboard.com.
And don't forget the Call for Presentations is open for both BbWorld and the Developers Conference! I encourage everyone (regardless of your interest in the Program Committee) to submit a proposal! Get your session in before February 27, 2009.
See you in DC! (And, no, you can't stay at my apartment.)
Globally, education is grappling with the need to put learners at the center, to engage them in and beyond the classroom. All while doing more with less, increasing accountability and finding new funding streams. Technology has an ever-growing role to play at the heart of education – if you can trust it, manage it, and make it your own. The challenges are real, but so are the solutions.
Since the merger of Blackboard and WebCT, I've watched with pride the synergy created by two education companies coming together to do something bigger and better, to improve learning outcomes and enable education providers to make a true difference in their work, in the lives of their students. Today, I'm excited to see the endeavors of the Blackboard community's labors come to fruition with the launch of Blackboard Learn, Release 9.
Driven by the demands of educators and technology professionals across and beyond the Blackboard community, Blackboard Learn, Release 9 re-imagines the use of technology to drive student achievement. Engagement and openness are the design principles of Blackboard Learn, Release 9.
Learners need to be engaged – no matter who they are or how they learn. The all-new Web 2.0 experience in Release 9 makes it easy to meaningfully combine information from different sources. The addition of blogs and journals brings reflective learning to the forefront; and by integrating with the Facebook platform, we can take the learning process to students where they are – meeting their expectations.
When Blackboard and WebCT started working with developers out of Cornell University and the University of British Columbia back in the late '90s, we wanted to bring new paradigms for openness in education using the Internet. We succeeded with our early versions of our Learning Systems, but I continually am amazed by the potential – specifically, the untapped potential – for the support of technology to impact learning for the better.
The next generation of openness is now real, with the ability to connect to other learning systems, such as Moodle and Sakai, making it easy for institutions to bring all their learning into one place. And openness is also all about feedback: the more data students get about their performance, the better they perform. The more feedback educators get about their performance, the better they perform. It's a simple equation. Blackboard Learn, Release 9 makes personal expression, group collaboration, and feedback easy, real and timely:
- The Grade Center brings teacher and student into closer dialogue
- The Notifications Dashboard gets students and educators the feedback they need, when they need it
- SafeAssign holds a mirror up to a student's citation skills, improving the art of referencing in the information age
- Students can now deepen their collaboration with the improved group tools, which bring a host of learning activities into one place
And whether you seek to collaborate in Russian, Swedish, Finnish, Brazilian-Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese or a host of other languages, or need assistance with content re-ordering through a screen-reader, Blackboard Learn, Release 9 opens those doors, as well.
While the challenges are real, so are the solutions! Even better news? This is just the beginning: I have an education-focused team that already has the next set of platform innovations in the pipeline for 2009, delivering yet more freedom of choice for students and education providers alike. I can't wait to jump that curve.