BbWorld ’07 in Boston was a memorable event for me and, I think, historical when viewed in a larger context. In this post, the first of a two-part series, I’ll share a few key memories:
With 2,500 hundred educators, technologists, vendors and staff in attendance, the annual Blackboard users conference held last week bubbled with activity. The gathering was particularly striking to me because e-Learning experts met and talked in person (exchanging business cards), and attended sessions designed to cover the best uses of the Internet and computers to teach and learn, train, build community, and measure and report outcomes across every sector of education.
Conference attendees included representatives from K-12 schools (some where kindergarteners logon to Blackboard software) to university systems comprised of hundreds of thousands of users with 24×7 access to Blackboard systems, to government agencies that train personnel in war zones. All these users met in Boston to discuss similar goals: accelerating learning, opening access, accounting for progress and improving quality.
In just a few short days, I spoke with users from around the globe – Singapore, Holland, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Hong Kong, England, and Kentucky, Michigan and Columbia Universities to name a few.
I also experienced a host of new and intriguing technologies that work with Blackboard software.
More K-12 schools and districts attended BbWorld this year than in previous years. Attendees included charter schools that operate entirely online and schools that use cell phones to send messages through Blackboard software to parents.
During the conference many higher education institutions explored how the new Blackboard Outcomes System can assist them to become more transparent to their governance bodies and accreditation agencies.
There were many “firsts” this year, as well – most notably the convergence of the Blackboard user conference and WebCT !mpact. A great amount of buzz during the event was generated by discussions of using common Blackboard systems across this combined community of practice.
To me, the most striking aspect of the conference was even less tangible, however. There was something larger than these “firsts” which occurred during an education technology conference, something in the mood of attendees, the tempo of discussions and presentations, and the overall direction of the event which seemed part of a larger historical context.
Looking past the declarations made during BbWorld ’07 about Web 2.0 supremacy and the accompanying crash of cymbals, I think I heard a quiet revolution occurring last week – what attendees and presenters did not discuss spoke more loudly to me. In my next post I’ll try to describe what I think occurred – a significant move in which I think we all can take pride: the dropping of the “e” in e-Learning.