Hi. My name is Tiffany Tooley and I am the Blackboard Community Manager. In this role, I have the opportunity of working to support a unique series of programs, developed to help our clients have a more valuable and meaningful experience as they engage with the platform and seek input and experiences from their peers across the greater Blackboard Community. In doing so, I get to meet our terrific clients and listen as they share their stories and ideas about impacting education and their relationship with Blackboard. I also get the opportunity to retell them here.
With over 1,200 Blackboard clients currently using our latest generation platform, my new blog series will highlight several of our clients that have successfully upgraded in the past year. My first spotlight will focus on Concordia University.
Concordia University is a private Lutheran liberal arts school in Chicago, IL with a population of just over 5,200 undergraduate and graduate students. Supporting them are 400 full-time and adjunct faculty members, as well as a Learning Technologies team run by Scott Schuth, who doubles as an Instructional Designer and the university’s Blackboard System Administrator.
Concordia made the decision in 2010 to upgrade from their legacy CE 8 platform to Blackboard Learn™, Release 9.1. Concordia uses all four modules of the Blackboard Learn platform- Course Delivery, Community, Content and Outcomes. It was the additional functionality found in Release 9.1 – the mashups, enhanced grade center and the new Outcomes functionality- that got them excited about making the change.
“Getting support from the Blackboard Community made a big difference to Concordia’s upgrade experience,” says Schuth. “We were already participating in the Blackboard Idea Exchange, but the Cohort Program was new to us. I can honestly say it’s an hour-per-week well invested. You know there’s going to be something in there that will give you ROI, whether it was the strategies shared by Blackboard’s Product Management team – like using our Community Engagement module to help communicate upcoming changes- or the advice shared between clients in the Cohort. Getting involved with the Cohort Program is not just about Blackboard feeding us things. It’s about all of us feeding one another- the ideas, the stumbling blocks, the potential issues.”
“One of the things from an administrator point of view that I absolutely love about Release 9.1 is the ease by which I can get into one of the 500+ courses we’re currently running on it and help faculty address issues. I can see what they are doing within the course very easily and make suggestions or fix unanticipated issues. That’s a big improvement from CE8. By joining the Cohort Program, I now know why the software is designed the way it is and how best to use it to support our faculty and impact the educational experience.”
“We have a small staff- two instructional designers dealing with a new, relatively young faculty – so the free training materials provided to Cohort participants was terrific. We developed our own tools, of course- such as a ‘Tech Tips’ weekly newsletter- but we’re also able to use the tutorials found in the On-Demand Learning Center to let our faculty know about the changes they would see between CE8 and Release 9.1.”
Concordia University is currently in coproduction with CE8 and Release 9.1 and will complete a near full transition to Blackboard Learn™, Release 9.1 in Spring 2011.
A new Release 9.1 Cohort starts in May. Click here to register.