In his BbWorld 2012 keynote address, Ray Henderson, Blackboard’s CTO and President of Academic Platforms, provided his annual report card on how Blackboard is doing against the fundamentals. Ray gave the Client Support fundamental a check plus, meaning we’re honoring the commitments we’ve made and we’ve made significant forward progress in improving the client support experience. Ray cited our improving close rates (fulfilling a promise from three years ago to bring them up to the level of ANGEL Learning), the benefits of the Upgrade Cohort Program for helping people with change management, and rising client satisfaction scores.
But that’s all our quantitative perspective.
The more important thing is: What do Blackboard clients think from a qualitative perspective? The pervasive opinion that we heard throughout BbWorld is that you agree; Client Support is fundamentally better than it was two or three years ago.
Earlier this year I bought a Groupon deal for an indoor skydiving session. I’m not sure why I bought this particular deal, especially since I’m deathly afraid of heights and this just didn’t seem like something I would willingly do. Nevertheless, I suited up this weekend and took on the challenge! Even though it was not real skydiving, it was just as frightening as I would imagine it to be, it felt so real and with the video and fan blowing, the instructors had very seamlessly simulated reality. I even had that crazy sinking feeling in my stomach the whole time!
This got me thinking about Jacksonville State University‘s ability to simulate the experience of actually being in class…when in fact one third of their student body is taking their classes online. JSU is successfully creating an online version of the traditional classroom because they understand that to really connect and communicate with their students, they need to “reach the students where they are,” and incorporate a synchronous component to their online classes. Not only are the students able to attend the class lectures online, but they are able to connect with faculty using education technology for office hours, questions on assignments – all in real-time, all online. So that scary sinking feeling that you’ll be called on when you haven’t completed your assignments/reading for the week? Yup, it is just the same. Just as real – only your peers might not be able to see you actually turn red.
In today’s fragile job market and tumultuous economy it’s important for educators to do whatever we can to make sure we are equipping our students with the tools to set them up for success. More and more we’re seeing that employers are looking to social media to identify potential hires – which means that it’s our responsibility to lay the groundwork for a positive professional online presence for our students.
So how do we go about preparing our students to achieve success today?
Mark Edmundson, a professor of English at University of Virginia, wrote an Op-Ed called, “The Trouble with Online Education,” which appeared in last week’s New York Times. Timing of the op-ed coincides with UVA’s recent announcement that they would be developing and offering online courses with Coursera. To boil down the article, Edmundson says he thinks of online education as a one size fits all experience, yet thinks of traditional learning experiences as that of a jazz composition. In response, Josh Kim published an open letter to Professor Edmundson exposing some of Professor Edmundson’s incorrect assumptions and confusion, which you can read here: An Open Letter to Professor Edmundson.
In case you haven’t heard, Jared Slayton is now the proud owner of his very own pink unicorn.
Blackboard’s annual education conference, BbWorld, drew record numbers in 2012 (over 3,500 participants!) Jared, LMS Admin and Help Desk Manager of Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, MI was one of those attendees, and one who participated in the BbWorld scavenger hunt. (No, a pink unicorn was NOT on the list. Stay with me…) Jared became the grand prize winner through his immaculate scavenger hunt skills. When @blackboard
tweeted congratulations to the winners, they forgot one… Jared. And Jared, we learned, is not one to take such an oversight lying down.
He tweeted this: