Access to digital content is becoming increasingly important in higher education. Students expect the same level of performance and flexibility from campus book stores that they experience with all of their other online content – music, photographs and videos. During BbWorld 2010, Blackboard announced a new partnership with Follett Higher Education Group to enable educators and learners to access Follett’s CaféScribe eBook platform from within the Blackboard Learn™ platform via the free Follett CaféScribe Blackboard Building Block™. For the first time, students can now find, buy, use and discuss digital books within their course management system environment.
Over the past two years Blackboard has been working closely with partners like the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and Deque Systems to achieve significant improvements in the accessibility of our products. We pledged to achieve the NFB’s certification for Non-Visual Access and in March of 2010 we were presented with their Gold Level Certification and became the only learning management system certified by the NFB.
In July I had the opportunity to attend the NFB’s annual meeting with our VP of Corporate Strategy, Lara Oerter. Lara was speaking to the attendees about Blackboard and our partnership with NFB representatives like Anne Taylor and Clara Van Gerven. One of the themes of this year’s meeting was the power of education and equal access to information. The announcement of the certification of Blackboard Learn was met with much excitement.
Missed BbWorld? Or made it but want to recall some of the key moments that took place in Orlando a few weeks ago? Check out the newly updated BbWorld.com which now includes lots of information and resources from the event.
Lots of you have been asking for this information, so we’ve pulled it all together in one place. New on the site this week is a gallery of our favorite photos from the week, contents from over 100 session presentations and listening notes, and even a video of the keynote delivered by Michael Chasen and Ray Henderson. In the keynote, Michael and Ray covered lots of updates and news from Blackboard including Ray’s Report Card for Blackboard Learn (you can read more in Ray’s latest blog post). The video, produced by Blackboard partner Echo360, features the full length keynote complete with presentation slides used by Michael and Ray.
We’ll be adding more resources to this site over time so bookmark BbWorld.com and check back for additional materials from this year’s BbWorld, as well as some details on BbWorld 2011 in Las Vegas. If there’s something else you’re looking to see, please leave your comments below.
When Blackboard Learn™, Release 9.1 launched this past spring, we also instituted a new initiative that we envisioned as a way to better prepare our clients for their transition to Release 9.1. The Release 9.1 Upgrade Cohort Program was specifically created and designed to give our clients more guidance and support during their upgrade process. The 12-week long program covered different upgrade planning topics each week. It also provided clients the opportunity to network with others who are moving along a similar path and learn from those who have already transitioned to Release 9.1. The program is facilitated by me in Product Marketing and some of our top Solution Engineers, Matt Davis and John Dennett.
Yesterday, we announced that Blackboard Mobile Learn is now available to K-12 institutions in North America as well as institutions outside the United States. For more information, check out this blog post from Kayvon, originally posted on the Mobile Garage:
About two months ago, we launched Blackboard Mobile Learn on the Android, iPhone, and Blackberry, adding to our already available iPad application. Our team is very proud of this new platform– we think it offers an engaging, intuitive experience for interacting with course content. And we’ve been hearing positive feedback from some of the institutions that have been using it so far, including at BbWorld in Orlando a couple weeks ago. They’ve shared with us their thoughts on the application’s simplicity, convenience, and elegance, and it’s great to hear their positive input, especially given how much we’ve put into this effort.
Until now, Mobile Learn has been available only for higher-ed institutions in North America. But starting today, Blackboard Mobile Learn is available through an annual license to K-12 institutions in North America as well as all institutions outside the United States. We’re excited to finally make this platform available to our existing K-12 and global customers – and to prospective clients who are interested in comprehensive mobile integration for their learning platform.
Our whole team is excited about being at the forefront of the rapidly evolving field of Mobile Learning. We live and breathe mobile– and we hope our apps reflect that. Still, we’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible in this field. Our goal is to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with mobile learning, and to bring our innovations to as many institutions (and ultimately, students) as possible.
We’re also keen to start talking about our mobile development and direction with more clients around the world. Some of our best use cases and ideas come from the community we’re a part of, and BbWorld Orlando was a great forum for us to swap stories and experiences with clients. As it happens, I’ll be visiting Cairns, Australia in a few weeks for BbSummit Australasia where we’ll be talking mobile with lots of clients down under. Hope to see some of you there.
Until then, we’d love to hear from you here on the blog. Chime in with questions and comments!