I’ve been using course management software for a long time. As early as 1994, I was involved in a project called “The Virtual Classroom” at the University of Connecticut, trying to figure out how to supplement the course experience with online components. Our tools were Gopher, NCSA Mosaic, and a small web server. At the time, most students had to visit the library or a computer lab to even get online. I later started using WebCT at the University of Denver in 1997 and soon joined the company as an employee in 1999. I may have left teaching, but educational technology has been my profession and passion ever since.
My career has given me the opportunity to work with lots of educational software over the years, and in my role in Product Marketing here at Blackboard, I am closely involved with the evolution of the Blackboard Learn Platform. So it is with great anticipation that I look forward to my first peek at a working build of each new release. The excitement of seeing named features in working code for the first time remains a true joy of this job, but with Service Pack 8 I couldn’t believe my eyes. I knew we were updating the user interface and continuing to improve core workflows, but the actual working product was beyond my expectations. I knew then that this was more than your average service pack.
I enjoyed working in the new software so much that I decided to do a product launch video for it. This would be too much fun to outsource. I dove into our demo course and recorded my actions with screen capture software. It didn’t take me long to figure it all out. Everything is still just where you expect it to be, but the user interface is so much cleaner that it truly feels new. Edit controls just get out of your way when you don’t need them, workflow improvements make it easy to hop from one course to another, and it all just looks so good. Speaking of looking good, there are over fifty course themes that you can apply to personalize your course or make it match your subject.
The more I used it, the more I loved it, and I couldn’t wait for the day when we could release it to all of you. Well, that day is here and I hope you will take this opportunity to try SP8 for yourselves. You can see more in the video below and you can learn more about the release at http://blackboardlearn.com/new where you can also sign up for webinars and upgrade cohorts. I’m confident that SP8 will save you time, make you more efficient, and make your time spent in Blackboard Learn more enjoyable.
While you are at it, take a look at how you, our clients, influenced this release with the Client Impact Report.
I hope you enjoy working with Service Pack 8 for Blackboard Learn as much as I do.