By Borja Uslé, Client Manager, Blackboard
Last month I attended BbWorld Europe ’08 in Manchester. The users conference was the first BbWorld event that I’ve been able to attend since joining Blackboard in November 2007. And I was delighted to be a part of it.
I work as a client manager for Blackboard users located in Southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Many clients in these regions traveled long distances to join BbWorld Europe; representatives from the University of Botswana came, and there were three different institutions from Turkey. Our resellers also came from places like Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
The venue for the conference, The Palace Hotel, worked very well. Large Blackboard banners hung in the reception area greeted everyone and made one feel welcomed. And, despite the reputation of British weather, the weather during the conference was fantastic.
Conference participants were really excited to attend and connect with peers, and speak face-to-face with us Blackboard team members. That was really very nice. I had several conversations with users in and around the exhibit hall booths.
Here are three presentations given by attendees that I felt were particularly successful:
- The University of Botswana led a session, entitled “Online Discussion Forum: Promises and Possibilities,” in which they explained how they used the Discussion tool to generate ideas collaboratively amongst students, faculty and staff, for publication in a book. (UB’s homepage.)
- Istanbul Bilgi University in Turkey gave a very interesting presentation about a Building Block they created – a tool they integrated into their Blackboard platform that enables Turkish spell-checking. They also discussed ways in which their Building Block enables users to gather statistical data on content items. They completed hard work to build these tools and were rightfully proud of their accomplishments. (IBU’s homepage.)
- Kadir Has University told us a great story in their session, “Don’t Try This at Home: A Full-throttle Approach to a Blackboard Implementation.” In five months they integrated Blackboard software with their registration system and have almost 25% of all their courses actively using the system. During their presentation they solicited contact information from audience members, to create a new online community. (KHU’s homepage.)
Although the Blackboard user community is known for our outgoing and enthusiastic presence, I must admit that we have nothing on the supporters of the Glasgow Rangers, a football team. During our conference the 2008 UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Cup Final took place at City of Manchester Stadium. The city was filled by more than 200,000 cheering Scottish supporters, making the streets busy and loud!
With all that excitement in the Manchester streets and inside, at the conference, I look forward to the next opportunity to meet face-to-face with Blackboard users, during BbWorld ’08 in Las Vegas in July.