The Arkansas Blackboard Users Group (ARbug) recently held their annual user’s conference, and I was lucky enough to take part in the festivities. The conference took place in beautiful Hot Springs, Arkansas on the campus of National Park Community College. The theme of the conference was, “Educate. Communicate. Collaborate,” and the group of ~100 clients, Blackboarders and Blackboard Partners did everything they could to make that theme a reality. The conference began on Wednesday, March 9 — in the brand new Frederick Dierks Center for Nursing and Health Sciences, a beautiful building with a state-of-the-art Amphitheater – with two workshops designed to build collaboration amongst two groups of the educational community – Online Course Builders and System Administrators.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about Open Standards; Blackboard announced support at the end of 2010. Eight months ago this was a new and challenging topic for me and, admittedly, it took a while to fully understand the positive impact this will have on our clients and the industry. As a newbie in the open standards space, I started tapping into some local experts to try and wrap my head around all of this. Fancy names aside, it’s important to know that Basic LTI and Common Cartridge are open education standards. These standards support the interoperability of learning technologies and content, or the integration, reuse and sharing of educational content and tools. In other words, by supporting these standards within Blackboard Learn, we are providing institutions and educators with more options when it comes to the technologies they use together.
Some have said that the sizzle has gone out of the franchise of the Virtual Learning Environment / Course Management System. They’ve held funerals at conventions and proclaimed the death of the franchise; much like the sci-fi geeks said of Star Trek after Star Trek: Nemesis. Yet these old franchises at their essence were powerful and by reconnecting to their original story and “re-booting” they have risen again. If Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and Dr. Who can do it, why not the VLE and CMS.