Today I’m in beautiful Melbourne, Australia.  This is my home for the next few days as I enjoy Bb World Asia Pac 2006 our first joint WebCT and Blackboard Users Conference.  More than 330 clients have joined us in Melbourne for 2.5 days of sessions, networking, workshops and fun. It turns out I’m not the only one blogging the conference experience, Eric Kunnen from Grand Rapids Community College is too.  You can visit his blog at http://bbworld.wordpress.com.

The conference kicked off Sunday night with a keynote from Michael Chasen and Peter Segall.  In their keynote Michael and Peter talked about the challenges of Education from a global perspective.  These challenges include:

  • Competition for resources – whether it is Healthcare, Infrastructure, or Security, there is much competition for funding resources at all levels – local, state and national.
  • Explosion of knowledge production – the reality that we need to re-examine how to best educate people.  China is exploring how to scale Education to meet their need to teach of hundreds of thousands to millions of students in one subject all at once.
  • Emergence of knowledge-based economies – increasingly economies are being driven not from agriculture, mining, and manufacturing but on innovations that come in the areas of science, medicine, finance where knowledge is power.
  • Lifelong learning as a way of life – to continue to succeed in life one must continually learn new things, update skill sets, explore new areas of interest and make new connections.
  • Education as ‘Ability Builder’ – where for today’s employers the focus is increasingly on evaluating prospective employees on their ability to analyze, learn new skills, work in teams and communicate and less on what a prospective employee learned as the content of their education.

Education is heading in new directions and Blackboard’s clients are leading the charge at their institutions to meet these challenges. 

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