I attended my first BbWorld last year in Washington DC, about one month after I learned I would be working at Blackboard and about two months after the ANGEL/Blackboard merger and the ANGEL User Conference in Chicago. Needless to say that first BbWorld was a bit of a whirlwind. I was connecting with ANGEL clients, learning all I could about CE/Vista clients, meeting new colleagues from around the world, and dancing my way into the early morning.
Much of the discussion that was around me in Washington DC was about the cultures of the two (now one) companies. People were curious if the ANGEL ethos could make its way into the larger Blackboard, and ANGEL clients were hanging their hope on Ray Henderson. The two words I heard most were “cautiously optimistic.” I also heard about some of the challenges that clients were facing with Release 9.0 and I heard about “parity” from the CE/Vista crowd.
This year in Orlando, I felt a real positive vibe around me. I heard, both in client meetings and in dinner conversations with my colleagues, about how things are changing at Blackboard. We all listened to Ray’s report on the rising support stats and how Blackboard is delivering higher quality products, but, even more important to me, I saw clients stand up at sessions to thank Blackboard for the focus on client needs. With Release 9.1, they said, Blackboard not only delivered functionality to help engage students but also provided many tools they need to upgrade to the newest release and train their instructors and staff. In the Client Tools focus groups I conducted, a client shared that their upgrade to Release 9.1 was the smoothest they had ever experienced. Additionally, my engagement with ANGEL clients was positive as they can see we are working to deliver on what they need as they look to the future.
So, my second BbWorld was a great one. It confirmed for me that bringing together ANGEL and Blackboard has had a positive impact on education, which is what it’s all about. And, selfishly, I was thrilled to see that the work we are doing to support our clients with upgrades is appreciated.
Whether it was your first or fifth BbWorld event, I would love to hear what your experience was like. I encourage you to leave comments below.
I’ll see you on the dance floor in Vegas!