BbWorld is one of those events where so much happens that it becomes information overload for blog purposes: what do I want to write about first?  I think one of the highlights for me – and a good place to start – was the Blackboard Greenhouse Program. We finally announced our Greenhouse winners and our new Virtual Worlds grant.

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It was really exciting to see the culmination of all the hard work by the judges and directors at BbWorld. For the Greenhouse Exemplary Course Program (ECP), which recognizes and reward courses that are exemplarily designed and implemented, we had over 1,000 hours of review and discussion put in by over 100 peer reviewers and directors.
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One thing that I find really interesting about the process is the fact that our 10 exemplary courses and five best practice winners really ran the gamut in terms of the platform (CE, Vista and Blackboard Learning System), level (K-12, Higher Ed, and for-profit clients) and subject matter (everything from Hawaiian Pacific Literature to Nuclear Phenomena for Engineering Applications). What was most fascinating to me, though, was the fact that the Greenhouse ECP team was able to take rubrics that had been created for two separate programs (WebCT and Blackboard) and merge them into one comprehensive, and platform independent tool for learning (please feel free to download it  or the accompanying scoring rubric and use it with your courses – we’d love to hear your thoughts on it).
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In addition to the Greenhouse ECP, we also announced the winners of our Greenhouse Grants.  Again, the directors who selected the two grant recipients really did an extraordinary job of evaluating over 50 outstanding submissions.  The winners represented both the Blackboard and WebCT client base.  Santo Nucifora (Seneca College) and Eric Kunnen (Grand Rapids Community College) will be working with other clients to develop an advanced reporting system Building Block that monitors the successful implementation of the Blackboard Academic Suite.  Ian Smissen (Deakin University) will be working with clients to develop PowerLink integrations of appropriate social software tools into Blackboard Learning System™ – Vista Enterprise License based on an evaluation of specific teaching and learning needs. These tools will be available to the community and I’m sure Eric, Santo and Ian would love to hear from other clients for collaboration and input. Email me aalleyne@blackboard.com if you want to link up with them
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Last but not least (and I’m sure I’ll be writing about this more in the near future) is our Greenhouse Grant for Virtual Worlds. IMHO this is REALLY cool.  Essentially we’re looking for development teams who are interested in creating Building Blocks and PowerLinks that create meaningful connections between Blackboard Enterprise products and Virtual Worlds such as Second Life.  I know there is a ton of buzz about Virtual Worlds for Education, what makes this most interesting to me, though, is the fact that the tools that are built must enhance the student experience and have a strong basis in sound teaching and learning best practices.
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We’ll be having a webinar on this soon (keep an eye out for an invitation on one of the Blackboard listservs).
Again, it was great to see these programs come together as they did at BbWorld and even cooler to see it expanded with the new grant program. I’ll keep you posted as new developments emerge.  If you have any questions about any of this, please feel free to drop me a line.

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