More than 300 Blackboard Commerce Suite clients and partners have converged here at the Carefree Resort and Villas in Carefree, AZ, for BbWorld Commerce ’07—the Blackboard users conference dedicated solely to users of the Blackboard Commerce Suite.
For four days (April 15–18), clients have been meeting with their peers, sharing best practices, hearing from campus card industry leaders and learning about the latest product innovations from Blackboard. I wish you were here, but if you were unable to join us in Carefree this year, let me tell you what’s been happening.
The conference opened Sunday evening. Blackboard CEO and co-founder Michael Chasen officially welcomed attendees, before Commerce President Russ Carlson delivered the opening keynote. Russ discussed the state of the Commerce business and then recognized the two recipients of the 2007 Blackboard Greenhouse Program Exemplary Campus Service Awards: Duke University and The University of Alabama.
The Greenhouse Program honors academic institutions that best demonstrate innovative uses of the Blackboard Commerce Suite for the delivery and operation of campus services.
A reception in the main exhibit hall followed Russ’s opening keynote. Clients experienced hands-on demonstrations of Blackboard technology, including new releases such as the FlexVend vending reader that accepts campus ID cards as well as major credit cards, and the RMS-TOUCH kiosk which provides cardholders the convenience of self-service foodservice order-entry and payment. Clients also met with Blackboard sales and support representatives, and saw the latest offerings from more than 10 Blackboard partners.
More than 35 client-led presentations began Monday morning on varied topics, including managing complex card program offices, implementation of the Blackboard Community System, going off campus with your campus ID card and wireless door access solutions.
Dr. Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs at Duke University, presented the keynote address on Monday morning. He discussed increasing consumer demands in higher education and outlined the new campus environment students of Generation Next have come to expect: elaborate residence halls loaded with student amenities, wellness centers that include climbing walls and wave pools, and campus dining and retail centers that resemble a shopping mall more than a traditional campus cafeteria.
Sessions continued through Tuesday afternoon and culminated with a client appreciation party that night, outside under the stars. Before the conference ends, more than 50 attendees will tour Arizona State University in nearby Tempe. ASU is a longtime user of the Blackboard Commerce Suite and will showcase its various creative implementations.