Earlier this year, I received a random e-mail from a student at Carnegie Mellon University named Ed.
Now, I have to admit that as the manager of Blackboard’s developer community, I receive quite a number of random e-mails, which range from students asking me how they can enroll in their courses to professors who can’t remember their passwords. I don’t quite know how some of these folks find my name, but I do know that I can attribute the particular message I’d like to tell you about here to EduGarage.
Ed’s email began: "I am a junior at Carnegie Mellon University . . ." He continued: “CMU utilizes the Blackboard Learning System . . . one of our ideas for our group project was [to create] a widget of sorts . . . I have been researching your site and EduGarage . . . I thought you might know someone who could be of assistance.”
A few months later, which I’m sure included many long nights of coding by Ed and his peers, I found myself at CMU this past Friday, admiring the handiwork of Ed and his team – a completed Blackboard Building Block that displays such information as course announcements, calendar items and new course content alerts inside of a Yahoo dashboard widget.
Hello, All. My name is Matt Painter and I’m the newest addition to the Blackboard Client Success Blog team.
I started at Blackboard in June of 2005, as a technical support manager (TSM) and worked my way up the ranks to become the director of North American Support. Last August I decided to leave Blackboard to pursue a career in reporting and analytics. Luckily I had kept in contact with many of the good people at Blackboard and was aware of the company-wide Client Success initiative being planned. After discussing the position with Craig and Jan, I agreed to come back to Blackboard as the business intelligence analyst for the Client Success team.
In order for Blackboard as a company to become more proactive and foster greater client success, we’ll need to use the information we gather to find and react to problems before they are brought to our attention by users. It is my job to work with each of our departments across the company to determine the key factors that enable our clients to be successful, and then create reports that notify Blackboard employees if a client is not succeeding in the areas affected by those factors. This process might be easier for me to explain with an example.
This month Blackboard hired a new vice president of Client Support. His name is Tony Mandaro, and prior to Blackboard he worked for a software company managing operations for 12 years. Tony’s experience is just what Blackboard needs. He served in the United States Navy, received his BS and a Masters in Education from the University of Connecticut, and taught high school in Virginia for seven years!
While interviewing for his new position, Tony asked me some of the typical questions you would expect any interviewee to ask: What is the staff like? How do you measure success? What are the key operational challenges I will encounter, walking in the door? What do Blackboard users perceive as their biggest challenges? Where do I get a good cup of coffee around here?
Besides the coffee question, most of the answers were not short. Tony and I had a long discussion about the challenges we’ve encountered while the company and the size of our client base have grown, the benefits of our solutions and how we can exceed our clients’ expectations of us. One of Tony’s questions in particular did catch me off guard. Tony asked, "What is the one most important thing Blackboard can do to help clients view Client Support in a positive way?
As you may be aware, we recently made the decision to partner with Sutherland, a best-in-class support company based in Rochester, NY.
We recently finished several weeks of training the Sutherland staff on all of our products, support tools and processes. We did this by sending a rotation of some of our best people from the DC Support team to be onsite in Rochester. Our Rochester team went through detailed training and then we looked over their shoulders as they began performing case work.
The feedback from the DC training team has been wonderful. They have been impressed by the enthusiasm of the Rochester staff and how quickly they’ve absorbed the material, and their best practices for implementation give us a ton of confidence they are ready to handle the support work ahead of them.
Good day, all. For those of you who haven’t met me yet, I am the Blackboarder in charge of Blackboard’s developer community. The members of this group are those individuals who are out there finding innovative ways to extend and enhance Blackboard’s core product functionality by using Blackboard Building Blocks and Blackboard PowerLinks plugin technologies.
Through interacting with this community, I often find that similar institutions face similar challenges and have similar wants and needs for extending and customizing their learning environments. Part of my job is to find ways of connecting developers at these institutions and make meaningful and collaborative projects happen.
Many of these projects are often released as free and open source tools through OSCELOT, our affiliated open source community of educational tool developers. You might recognize the Sign-up tool, the Podcasting tool, or the Who’s Online tool by name; each of these is a product of this community.
This past week, I found myself at the University of Southampton for the 2008 Open Repositories Conference.