My team told me some pretty exciting news earlier this month—that our Community Site now has over 5,000 members representing more than 130 countries. As soon as I heard, I hopped on my computer to see all of the new engagements. With over 600 active discussion threads, I was blown away by the level of collaborative idea sharing between our community members and our employees.
I started poking around to wrap my arms around the types of conversations taking place, and seeing what I could learn from our core community. When we announced that the site was in beta at BbWorld 2015, our developers and product managers led the charge on engaging with people who are using our products every day, so I checked in with them on how it’s going. Scott Hurrey, one of our senior technical writers, shared a pretty awesome story with me.
Back in February, Scott Hurrey and Mark O’Neil hosted the first REST Technical Preview Office Hours—a series of live sessions open to anyone interested in learning more about the upcoming introduction of REST Web Services in Blackboard Learn. On this call, a customer immediately asked whether REST would be available on Blackboard Learn 9.1. The answer was no, but Scott suggested that a customer open “an idea” on our new Community Site, and they did just that. In a little over a month, we received over 25 comments on the idea’s discussion thread articulating why this is so critical for our customers. And this sparked change here at Blackboard.
In early April, Scott and Mark announced that REST was officially on the roadmap for Blackboard Learn 9.1 and on April 26th, we released REST APIs in Technical Preview. In just two months we went from no immediate plans to support REST in Blackboard Learn 9.1 to REST being available in Technical Preview for Blackboard Learn 9.1, all because of your feedback. I can’t wait to hear more examples of how our community’s voice is driving real change here at Blackboard.
But the Community Site isn’t just for our developers. It is for every single one of our customers and users. Our team has built out several “areas” to help you connect with your peers. And these will continue to be added to over time. Today, there are seven key areas for you to engage in:
- Educator: a forum especially for higher ed and K-12 teachers
- System Administrator: our most active forum based discussions group for Blackboard admins
- Instructional Designer: a collaborative forum for sharing instructional design best practices, tips, & tricks
- Developer: a special area for Blackboard developers to share their tricks of the trade with each other
- Regional User Groups: browse these geo-specific user groups to find Blackboard users near you
- Topical User Groups: check these out to find other Blackboard users exploring similar issues as you, such as the Accessibility Partnership Program.
- Community Programs: join your peers in programs geared to gather feedback, discuss industry topics and provide support.
Have an idea for a new one? Post it in the Community Site.
Today marks the end of the Community Site’s BETA experience. It is now a fully launched experience, and you’re invited to join. This means that content is no longer hidden behind a log in, however, you will still need to log in to comment or engage with content.
Join me in the Community Site—we’re listening.