I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Barbara Klett at Central Oregon Community College. I simply started with, “Can you tell me about your relationship with Blackboard?” Her response pleased me to the point that I asked if I could share her sentiments with the Blackboard community through our blog. I’m thrilled to let you in on our discussion. And, thanks, Barbara, for your willingness to share with others your thoughts on what you are seeing from Blackboard.
Here are some excerpts from my conversation with Barbara…
Sometimes when I am working in Bb, my mind goes back over how things USED to be at Blackboard (I’ve been an instructor and a system manager of Blackboard for a LONG time), and I find myself thinking grateful thoughts for how things are NOW at Blackboard.
Not long ago, I was talking to a colleague who was very excited by some educational uses of social-networking he had seen in the vendors’ hall at a technology conference. I was pleased to hear his comments because I knew what he described is available in Blackboard Learn Service Pack 10.
Blackboard’s social learning capabilities encourage student engagement. Blackboard designs and releases these tools incrementally so that instructors build confidence and skill in using them. They did this with the blog and journaling tools, and now with social learning. The strategy helps make the learning process, for the instructor and the student, easy, approachable, and effective. It’s innovation, but at a pace that doesn’t overwhelm faculty.
Two things that I greatly appreciate about Blackboard are their commitment to continuous improvement and their stellar technical support. It’s very exciting for the industry to have so much innovation happening in today’s education space, and Blackboard is truly at the forefront of that movement. As online access to learning opportunities continues to grow and competition by service providers heightens, I believe we will see more and more innovation as each provider works to leap frog the other. That is what innovation is all about, and education is a beneficiary of these efforts.
I believe Blackboard truly exceeds expectations is in the area of support. We are a managed-hosting client, and, honestly, at this time I don’t have any tickets open. This is a reflection of the stability of the product, and the proactive nature of my Blackboard support team. I know if I need anything, it is as if the support team is in the office right next door to mine. They feel that close and ready to assist. I consider Blackboard Support an extension of my own team; they are my friends and my educational partners. Blackboard seems just as invested in making our program a success as I am.
Blackboard support communicates information to me that is timely and reflects their proactive nature. For example, when Hurricane Sandy was approaching the east coast of the United States in the autumn of 2012, I was so impressed by the information and the openness Blackboard provided as they prepared to face the storm. My institution is located on the west coast, but it was possible that the fallout from the storm would affect our connection with Blackboard. The situation was prepared for and handled so well. They kept us informed as the storm developed and concluded. Thankfully, we felt no negative impact by the event, but had there been an issue I was confident that Blackboard had a solid plan of action. I just couldn’t be more pleased.
In closing, I want to share a story about an important decision that Blackboard is influencing in my own family:
My 17-year-old son attends the community college where I work. He uses Blackboard all the time. He will graduate in June and move on to university.
He has narrowed his selection of universities down to two: one school uses Blackboard, and one doesn’t but that school is the one he has had the greatest interest in attending (for a number of pretty significant reasons).
The other day, my son received access to one school’s portal, which also provides access to the non-Blackboard LMS. My son went in to look, and he came to me with frustration because he didn’t appreciate the way the non-Blackboard LMS worked. He said, “You know, Mom, technology is REALLY important to me. What a university chooses to use for its LMS has a direct impact on my success. Maybe I should go to the university that is using Blackboard because Blackboard is SO MUCH BETTER!”
Blackboard does make a difference. The technology has a direct impact on the success of millions of students. The partnership we have is valuable to me and many of us who have chosen to spend our professional career in educational technology.