As recently announced, we are now approaching our 8th Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC) EMEA, which will take place in Milan from March 22nd to 24th, and I am looking forward to hearing and learning from education leaders and experts from over 100 universities who will be joining us. I am also particularly excited about this year’s conference, as this will be my first TLC since taking over as President of Blackboard International. I thought this would be a good opportunity to share my reflections on what I have learned so far.
In the last six months I have been traveling constantly around the world and in particular throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa to meet our local teams, our partners and our clients and learn from them. One thing in particular got my attention: while there are many differences, nuances and challenges that make each country unique, the need to impact student outcomes and enable student success are shared goals among all our clients.
Supporting the specific needs of clients in countries as diverse as the UK, Nigeria, Brazil and New Zealand may seem like an impossible challenge, but understanding the unique issues faced by teachers, students and institutions in their local markets is where Blackboard’s strength resides. For us differences are not only challenges. They are opportunities. They invite us to think outside the box, be innovative, and embrace and drive change. Moreover, they give us the chance to learn from each other. Our events, whether it’s BbWorld or the Teaching and Learning Conferences we organize around the world, facilitate these opportunities for community building and information sharing. This year, for example, TLC EMEA spans three days, packed full of presentations, workshops and seminars that will cover the pressing challenges we are all facing as we work to fulfill our common goals of enabling student success.
During my numerous meetings, I also had the opportunity to learn more about some of the fantastic projects our clients are implementing using our solutions, like those at South West College in Northern Ireland, which is a pioneer in the use of education technology. They have partnered with Direct Aid For Africa to offer remote courses in ICT to underprivileged students in Zambia, using our solutions to facilitate the lessons. The college is also promoting a Virtual Academy to its students in Northern Ireland to help them develop the specific soft skills requested by local employers, with the aim of boosting employability.
This is just one of many examples, but it clearly demonstrates the huge impact education can have on people’s lives. It also shows the enthusiasm and dedication our clients and Blackboard have to work together and drive learner success. That’s why I am delighted that Blackboard will be recognized later this month for its work supporting global education. The World Affairs Council-Washington, DC (WAC-DC), a non-profit and non-partisan organization dedicated to facilitating collaboration throughout the global education and international affairs community, will present Blackboard with its Global Education Award at its annual Gala in Washington, D.C.
It’s a tremendous recognition for us and for the hard work we do everyday to help institutions, teachers and learners around the world achieve success.