One would think I would be tired of visiting campuses. After thirty years in Higher Ed and six years with Blackboard I have visited dozens of campuses in the US, Canada and Europe. Every time I visit a campus I see something new and exciting. One of the things I have been noticing lately is the focus on the student experience through convenience and attention to the needs of the “Millennial Student.”
So I’m the first person of WebCT heritage to post to the blog. Feels like a big responsibility. All of us from WebCT have experienced a lot of "firsts" over the last two months but it all started for me when I was the first person from WebCT to attend a BbWorld conference. I went with lots of expectations and yes, it’s true, Blackboard CEO Michael Chasen does run his own dance contest at the conference party. Just like Carol Vallone, WebCT’s former CEO, he loves to dance too. I think we know what to expect in Chicago at !MPACT, the WebCT user conference! Even more, I’m looking forward to BbWorld Asia-Pacific in Melbourne in September, our first conference that combines both Blackboard and WebCT user communities. Very cool.
And while we’ve been experiencing these "firsts", we’re also seeing many of our respective longstanding initiatives come to fruition. For the last year WebCT has been developing an e-portfolio product and now we’ve launched our early client access program. There’s also been some great work going on in the area of academic analytics. At NCA Higher Learning Commission’s annual meeting, John Campbell of Purdue University presented an analysis of data collected from their WebCT Vista implementation and how it can be used to make predictive decisions about at-risk students and to trigger early interventions. Really groundbreaking stuff. And then I layer Blackboard’s Project Caliper on top of those two, and it seems like we’re really on the cusp of some major changes in the role technology plays in outcomes assessment.
For me, it’s now on to a new job at Blackboard spearheading the Blackboard Beyond Initiative (little did I know as I listened to the announcement at the BbWorld keynote). It kind of takes me back to some of my roots at WebCT when I joined in ’99 to launch a new communities effort. And now I’ve joined the Blackboard blogging team too. Have you noticed that the lines of new and old are kind of blurring for me? Or maybe I’m just beyond. More (much more) on that later.
I must have been heads down in work earlier this week to miss all the notices about the kick-off of HigherEd BlogCon, a month-long, asynchronous online conference focusing on the use of weblogs in higher education. But I got tipped off by Kate Boardman of the University of Teesside to a Blackboard case study presented as part of HigherEd BlogCon. The presentation, titled "How the integrated use of blogs and Blackboard can improve a university public relations class," is from Ric Jensen at Northwestern State University in Louisiana.
We had a chance to glimpse the winners of the Greenhouse Communities of Practice a couple of weeks ago. This week, we’ll be looking at the Exemplary Course Award Winners. Today we’ll look at the winners of the Exemplary Non-Course (i.e. professional development or other use of Blackboard outside the classroom) and Online Course (80% or greater online) categories.
Rod Murray, a self-described "longtime Blackboarder" and Director of Application & Web Services at Thomas Jefferson University, wrote recently to let us know about Rod’s Pulse Podcast, an education-oriented podcast he launched last month. ("Pulse" is TJU’s local brand for their Blackboard implementation.)
Rod conducted some interviews at BbWorld ’06, that are now up on his blog, including
- An interview about the Blackboard Content System with Blackboard’s own Peter Van Tienen. Peter is Director of Solutions Engineering here at Blackboard. Before joining Blackboard, he was Director of Academic Technology at Seneca College in Toronto.
- An interview with Wes Barnes, a systems engineer with Anystream, about Anystream’s product, Apreso Classroom. With Apreso Classroom, instructors can capture multimedia lectures and quickly publish them online. Anystream is a member of the Blackboard Developer Network and has integrated Apreso Classroom’s publishing capability with the Blackboard Learning System.
If you’re doing cool stuff related to Blackboard, you can write us and let us know, too.