I recently learned what the word potable means, as did many high schoolers who attend Lucy Hammel’s virtual English class.  Hammel, a teacher for K12, Inc. who blogged about So What Does a Virtual Classroom Look Like, explained how she uses Blackboard Collaborate to connect with her kids on a more powerful, personal level, which helps them succeed via high-touch interaction.  In this particular instance, she explained that most students are not familiar with the word “potable” and they think it is difficult to remember.  So, by engaging with them via Blackboard Collaborate, she was able to tell them a funny story about how her daughters learned the meaning of the word when they visited her parents in Florida last summer – and the definition stuck.

Engagement is key in online, real-time learning.   Ms. Hammel would probably agree.  Read about the ways she uses Blackboard Collaborate to engage her students via movies, web tours, whiteboard exercises, quizzes, and ad-hoc stories.  She can tell who has grasped the concepts and who has not using polling, microphones , and quizzes for opinions, discussion, and informal assessment.  She describes the virtual classroom as “a place where students are comfortable and safe and still challenged to learn” and, using tools for interactivity, manages her class to this vision.

When customers use our technology with effective practices, that’s great.  But the touching part of all this, for me, is found in the comments posted by others.  “Can you help my grandson?” and more.  There are undertones of desperation as many search for an education experience that fits their child’s unique situation.  Often it is live, online learning that meet these needs  - giving students access to education, personalizing it, deepening it, and offering relief to parents who want only the best for their children.

This is why we at Blackboard do what we do.  We witness educators’ sincerity and passion for their profession.  It drives us  to develop technologies that bring about new ways of teaching and learning to the benefit of people’s lives.  This summer we will announce advancements to our Blackboard Collaborate platform that will enable educators to teach even better, extend their lessons to informal spaces, and add their personal touch and voice to educating others in more ways than one.  We can’t wait to reveal more and see the results.

Now on to imbibe, mellifluous, concoct, somnambulate, and even more I see written on that virtual whiteboard.

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