You don’t need to work in the education space to see that technology is playing an increasingly important role in higher education.  These days, it isn’t unusual to see innovative tools such as Smart Boards, e-books, and even mobile devices in the classroom. This pervasive state of technology in higher education is especially evident at professional colleges and universities, which have been leaders in bringing disruptive technologies to the classroom.

Just as career colleges have been leveraging new technology for education, we at Blackboard have also been working to drive innovation in our own solutions. We’ve asked ourselves:

  • How can Blackboard course administration become more efficient and effective for instructors?
  • How can our solutions give instructors more insight into their classroom and help them retain students?
  • What can we do to improve the student experience on Blackboard?

With these questions in mind, along with feedback from real Blackboard users across the country, we sought to develop new features and tools to truly enhance the learning experience in Blackboard. I am particularly excited about some upcoming updates to our Learn solution that will be highly useful to professional colleges and universities.

These updates will come through Service Pack 10 (SP10), a new upgrade that we will be unrolling over the next few months. Nearly 600 students and over 600 instructors at 640 schools provided feedback that helped us make SP10’s redesign of Blackboard Learn simple, intuitive and focused on you. As we like to say, SP10 makes the entire Learn experience Simply. Better.

Some great new features of SP10 include:

  • People and Full Profile: In SP10, students and instructors can create personal profiles and easily communicate with each other right within the LMS.  It’s like Facebook for Blackboard, where all of your most important class information comes to the top of your Blackboard home page in a stream of activities.
  • Improved quizzing and grading capabilities:  With new changes to quiz administration and analytics, instructors can develop more accurate questions and take a deeper dive into test results.
  • Mobile: We have developed an array of new mobile features with SP10 including push notifications, mobile tests, and social network integration.
  • Two-way text messages: Allows instructors to easily send SMS text messages to their classes to keep students up-to-date without relying on message boards or email. Along with our mobile developments, these will be some of the most useful tools for professional and career college students who live life on the go.
  • New calendar features: An enhanced calendar feature that allows students and instructors to keep track of upcoming events and deadlines, helping students to better balance academic life with their other work and personal commitments.
  • Spaces: This new feature gives students and instructors the ability to create groups within their class or across courses so students can collaborate with others for a more useful studying experience.
  • Analytics: New analytic features go beyond just the assessment of an individual classroom, giving instructors access to the full enterprise for useful data to help them motivate students with university-wide statistics and comparisons.

Innovation isn’t something those of us at Blackboard think about once a year, or just when we want to develop a new product. Innovation is something we think about constantly, and we are excited to see how our new developments, including features in SP10, will help professional colleges and universities do what they do best: educate tomorrow’s next generation of professionals by leveraging new and exciting technologies.

Click here to view the new features of SP10.

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