Building on the momentum following this year’s EDUCAUSE I thought it would be nice to give some love to our developer community, so I am proud to announce the availability of our new Blackboard plug-in for the Eclipse development platform. This will dramatically reduce the amount of time developers spend on setting up their development environment to build Blackboard Building Blocks. If you’re a web application developer, chances are that you’ve heard of Eclipse. For the uninitiated, Eclipse is an open source software development environment that can be used to develop Blackboard Building Blocks.
I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Kaufman of Ashland University for the first time this past July at BbWorld in Las Vegas. It was an exciting conference with a positive vibe and many great announcements from Blackboard executives. As I continued to communicate with Steve and get feedback from him on some of the tools and resources we are building for ANGEL clients, I asked if he’d be willing to share his thoughts with the larger community. So, I’m happy to be able to post today Steve’s perspective on what’s happening at Blackboard. Please share your thoughts as well! Guest post by Steve Kaufman, Associate Director of Learning Management, Ashland University It’s been an interesting two years since the acquisition of ANGEL Learning by Blackboard. I attended the ANGEL User Conference in Chicago where Blackboard announced the purchase and I’ll be honest, I was surprised, a bit angry and fearful for what this would mean for my institution. Like many other universities out there, we wanted to bring in a learning management system that really covered all the bases. We needed amazing assessment tools; grading options, flexibility in course design, standards and objectives tracking, course automation, and most of all, a system that was easy to use. ANGEL has all of these things, and so our logical choice was to go with them. It is important to mention that we performed due diligence when making our decision. We looked at Blackboard, Moodle, Sakai, and ANGEL, and we compared features side-by-side. ANGEL is where we wound up. So, when I heard about Blackboard purchasing ANGEL, I thought my world was going to get much more complicated and difficult.
If you’re reading this blog post, there’s about 99.99% certainty that you’re also someone who’s using (or about to start using) a learning management system (LMS). With the wide and varied range of tools and capabilities that an LMS can provide, it’s no wonder they they’ve become an instructor’s standard platform for course creation, course management, and course information. Your students are likely using this LMS, as well, logging in to check on schedules, assignments, and grades. Whether the education you’re providing is virtual, traditional, or blended, an LMS is likely its lifeblood.
Guest Post by Brian Nielsen, Northwestern University It’s really exciting when you see students pitching in together to work on a class project. They’re excited, their conversation is animated, there’s joy in the sharing of the knowledge they are soaking up, and often there’s pride. Class projects don’t always go this way, and, for the instructor, sometimes they’re risky. If motivation wanes, if one or two students in the group don’t pull their own weight, a project can fall flat, leaving the teacher to pick up the pieces with a shrug, or maybe an extra test. But when it works, it’s wonderful. Here at Northwestern University we’ve seen some of those great projects, and, we think, have had a hand in making them happen through our development of a new Blackboard Building Block that we’ve called Bboogle. We chose Bboogle as a concatenation of “Blackboard” and “Google,” a rather obvious play on the “Bb” Blackboad logo and Google Apps for Education, a service very quickly growing in popularity across the country. We use the pronunciation “ba-boogle” to signal to others the double-B, making sure that people recognize the significance of Blackboard as a partner in bringing this software into being. “Ba-boogle” does sound a bit funny, but the humor is meant to signify something too: the joy of helping foster collaborative learning experiences for our students.
Guest post by Misty Hanks, Coordinator of Instructional Design, at Morehead State University in Kentucky. Over the past several years, Morehead State’s online course adoption (both hybrid and fully online) has grown considerably. In fact, nearly every course has an online component and purely online courses grew from 17% to 28% during the last five years. With the success of our online program, coupled with a limited budget, we had to consider the most appropriate learning management system (LMS) for our University.
When we started the evaluation process, we were using Blackboard Learn 7.3. We considered either upgrading to Blackboard Learn 9.1 or adopting Moodle with the overall goal to find a solution that would help faculty create interactive and engaging learning environments while remaining cost-effective. We spoke with other institutions and faculty about their experiences using both solutions. The feedback highlighted the overall simplicity of the updated Learn 9.1 interface, the inclusion of SafeAssign™ (the plagiarism detection solution) and the ease of the upgrade. I’m thrilled to say that we are extremely happy with our decision to upgrade to Learn 9.1.