Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference 2012

Last week, I had the unique opportunity to join a large contingent of Blackboard clients and colleagues at the Blackboard Teaching and Learning Forum in Antwerp, Belgium. I arrived on Sunday morning in Antwerp trying to shake off the jet lag (I live 9 time zones away in Portland, Oregon) and enjoyed the sights, sounds and tastes of Antwerp – a beautiful northern European city known for chocolate, strong beer and diamonds.

On Monday I moderated the first ever Blackboard Collaborate Forum and Workshop at this conference. The aim of this session was to provide attendees with a fundamental understanding of the Blackboard Collaborate platform, hear success stories from a couple of clients, have a go at using the software and of course, ask questions of the team. We had a broad range of attendees – representing Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

In the initial overview session we talked about Blackboard Collaborate’s capabilities and use cases, and we spent a good deal of time talking about LMS or VLE integrations. Blackboard Collaborate provides seamless, open integrations across all of our capabilities – web conferencing, enterprise instant messaging and voice authoring to enable greater student engagement and expand access to programs for students who may not otherwise be able to attend class. I felt this message rang true with the audience, as many of our European clients are looking for ways to expand the reach of their academic programs beyond the physical bounds of their classrooms.

After the opening session we were delighted to hear from two of our clients – Teresa MacKinnon from the University of Warwick and Josephine Kinsley from the University of Edinburgh. Teresa discussed how the Language Centre at the University of Warwick uses Blackboard Collaborate voice authoring capabilities in the Chinese and Japanese language programs enabling spoken feedback for learning. She also demonstrated how Voice Authoring tools are integrated into e-portfolio development. View Teresa’s presentation here.

Josephine showed us how the University of Edinburgh uses Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing to expand the reach of their university by hosting online virtual open days and weeks to attract students who may not otherwise be able to attend in person. Students who attend the sessions can engage in real-time conversations with staff, students and alumni to learn more about specific programs and services and get deep insight into life at the University. View Josephine’s presentation here.

We then offered a glimpse at Blackboard Collaborate’s product roadmap – with a focus on the planned mobile collaboration capabilities. With Blackboard Collaborate’s mobile collaboration it is planned that you would be able to access and participate in web conferencing sessions from your mobile device.*

We concluded the session with a hands-on workshop from Blackboard Collaborate Solutions Engineer, Sheetal Chudasama. Sheetal lead a lively, interactive session describing different use cases and scenarios commonly employed by Blackboard Collaborate users. He also demonstrated a few not so well known uses. Did you know you can play a video from your iPhone within a Blackboard Collaborate web conference?

The Blackboard Teaching and Learning Forum was a great opportunity to meet and spend time with some of our European clients, understand their pain points and discuss how Blackboard Collaborate can enhance teaching and learning, as well as helping them to achieve their individual strategies. And yes, the beer was fantastic.

*Statements regarding our product development initiatives, including new products and future product upgrades, updates or enhancements represent our current intentions, but may be modified, delayed or abandoned without prior notice and there is no assurance that such offering, upgrades, updates or functionality will become available unless and until they have been made generally available to our customers.

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