With the end-of-life of CE8 approaching, Florida International University Online took a hard look at their LMS options. The team was looking for a solution that would continue to drive student engagement, while reducing the load on their internal technical team. FIU Online utilizes a number of third party tools in their online program, including content from publishers such as McGraw-Hill and NBC Learn, and wanted to be sure the LMS solution they chose was easy to integrate. The team understood that when digital content and interactive tools become a seamless part of a course, the more likely it is that faculty will incorporate them into the curriculum and students will stay engaged.
Maisie Caines, a Blackboard Exemplary Course Director and Faculty Development Specialist at College of the North Atlantic, recently spent time chatting with Teri Herron of Delta State University. Teri received the 2011 Exemplary Course Program Award for her Music in American Culture online course. So, how does a classically trained opera singer and music historian design and deliver an exemplary online course? According to Teri, it was a “completely wild ride.” According to Teri: “We need projects that push us out of our comfort zones, because that’s what I’m asking my students to do every time they enroll in any of my classes.” When Teri approached Dr. Susan Hines, Director of Instructional Technologies at Delta State, about designing an online course, she asked for no forgiveness. “I want you to be really hard on me.,” Teri said, “I would rather work diligently one time and then have something upon which multiple layers can be built. You know, build a really solid foundation into which you can add or subtract content, add or subtract media, fuss a little bit with your learning modules… but have something really, really good, structurally sound…something that a student climbs into and thinks, WOW!, this person really cared when they put this together for me.”
It is a question often asked during budget season and all too often, it crops up during a conversation that involves the learning management system. I know, I’ve been there and provided an answer to one of my former provosts. But upon further reflection, did I answer his real question? As a former head of academic computing, I sought answers to the provost’s value question in data. I tracked adoption and utilization of all services I could measure, and not just the LMS. I cross-correlated computing lab logins with LMS traffic, media classroom use with electronic reserves, bandwidth consumption with faculty digital media support volume, and so on. What the data provided was a sense of return on investment: quantifiable measures that reflected short-to-medium benefit. But in terms of value, the data didn’t get to the heart of my provost’s question.
I just moved into a new role at Blackboard, working with clients on the awesome Empower Programs we have developed to get clients heavily involved in our design and development process. In the last month of 2011, I was lucky enough to work with over 100 Blackboard clients, partners and developers as we kicked off our Beta Programs in preparation for the release of our newest software Blackboard Learn Release 9.1, Service Pack 8. These beta programs are important because they allow us to get feedback on the client’s upgrade experience, test the quality of the installer, as well as help developers and partners test out their building blocks with the new release – allowing us to help them resolve any issues prior to general availability of the software.
In case you missed it, Ray Henderson blogged last week about, reflecting on 2011, looking ahead to 2012 and what we mean by “The Ocho.” Originally posted on Ray H Blog on January 10, 2012: Over the course of the year, I enjoy a large quantity of anecdotal feedback on how we’re doing – emails, client meetings, Tweets, etc. – but it’s our client satisfaction surveys that give me the best overall view of our progress. These are the numbers I look at to see how well we’re doing. In the spirit of 2011 review, I’ll share news of the direction in those surveys, alongside a couple of key milestones we reached this year in the digital content and open education areas. I’ll also preview some of the news you can expect from us in early 2012. Improving the Experience Since I arrived at Blackboard we’ve made the improvement of our product and service quality a tremendous focus. We needed to be much better in these areas, and we committed a great deal to the effort with more staff, resources and new programs. By far, this has been the biggest priority for us as a company during my time at Blackboard. To read the full letter, please click here to jump to Ray’s Blog.