For the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of supporting the Blackboard User Group (or BUG) program and assisting a number of User Group Leaders to launch or support their groups. So I can confidently say that if you’re not an active member of a Blackboard User Group – unlike the more than 1600 of your peers that are – you’re missing out on a great opportunity to positively impact teaching and learning at your institution.

So, what’s so special about Blackboard User Groups? They’re client-run groups that give you- its members- the opportunity to network, stay up to date on the latest trends and information, collectively give feedback to Blackboard management, engage with subject matter experts and share best practices with a community of peers. More importantly, it’s this new community of peers – dare I even say friends – that are leveraging technologies as you and have faced similar challenges or decisions, peers that you can now turn to for advice and ideas to help you successfully advance your institution’s e-learning programs.

Can you believe there are more than 65 Blackboard User Groups worldwide? You’ll find a Blackboard user group on just about every continent. But if you don’t find a group that’s right for you, I suggest you start one of your own! As a member of the Community Programs team, I’m here to help you do just that.

This year marks an exciting year for Blackboard User Groups. Connections launched earlier this year as the new online home for BUGS and BbWorld 2012 is slated to host more user group events than ever before. By registering for BbWorld 2012, you can:

  • Attend up to 27 user group meetings. Check out the BbWorld Program or visit the Digital Content & Upgrade Center (on the Mezzanine level of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center) to find a list of meeting times and locations.
  • Join in 2 user group sessions providing unique perspectives about the value of BUGs, from a state and local level:
    • A panel session hosted by the leader and members of one of Blackboard’s largest and longest standing user groups entitled, Rock on, SLATE! An Up Close Look at How a Blackboard User Group has Impacted Teaching, Learning & the Support of Technology in the Midwest
    • A mini session hosted in the Digital Content & Upgrade Center by the Houston, TX Blackboard User Group, entitled HuMBUG – Without the BAH!- How a Large Metropolitan Area Works Together to Improve the Blackboard Experience for Their Students
  • Meet the 30+ user group leaders attending this year’s conference. I can’t say enough about this great group of folks, who’ve consistently shown their commitment to enhancing the Blackboard community and improving the quality of teaching and learning. You’ll find them repping their new Blackboard User Group digs (aka. snazzy new Polos) at this year’s event.

Questions about Blackboard User Groups? Contact me at community@blackboard.com, or find me in N’Awlins at BbWorld 2012. In the words of the jazz great, Wynton Marsalis, “Laissez les bon temps rouler! — Let the Good Times Roll!”

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