A recent report of the top searches in many parts of the country showed that many students get to their local Blackboard system server by typing the name into their favorite search engine rather than typing in the URL. This got me thinking about how we can make the web browser and search experience more optimal for users.
Blackboard has recently launched an experiment to see if we can partner to improve the browser experience. Through a partnership, Microsoft offered us access to a toolbar platform. We worked with them to integrate our Blackboard Sync secure syndication technology into this toolbar platform. This toolbar technology works with multiple versions of Internet Explorer 6 and higher as well as Firefox 3.5 and higher on various versions of the Microsoft Windows platform. The Sync technology works with Classic Blackboard 7.3 and higher, as well as Blackboard Learn Version 9.0.
We continue to explore expanding the technology to other systems in our portfolio. I'm not aware of any other VLE with a browser toolbar, but perhaps folks will send me examples. In any case it is new for us, and most of our clients. For this semester we hope that you will take a moment and enable this technology at your school and let your users know about it. We will be watching adoption and taking direct feedback during this early part of the year to understand what direction we should go with the technology.
We are very interested to see how it goes and we have setup a product field trial with 20 client's who have agreed to work closely with me and the rest of our toolbar team and partners over the spring semester. These partners will help us improve our documentation and give us feedback on future versions. The toolbar is available by download to all institutions today, and we welcome your feedback through Behind the Blackboard or the BIE and other listservs. I hope you will give the toolbar a try and make it available to your students and staff. Take a moment and download it for your Windows PC at