This week’s Teaching and Learning conference in Sydney has been an action-packed three-day event. We had the opportunity to meet education experts from across the region, hear them sharing best practice and get their feedback on how Blackboard is supporting their efforts to improve the learner experience.

The event allowed us to recap Blackboard’s productive last twelve months, share our thoughts and look into what lies ahead. Recent announcements have reinforced our commitment in Australia and New Zealand to partner with institutions and drive academic innovation in the region.

A trusted partnership
In his opening keynote, our CEO Bill Ballhaus shared his vision on what it means for Blackboard to be a trusted partner, sharing the company’s dedication to address your priorities and your most significant challenges, and deliver the benefits of our offerings into the hands of your people: administrators, faculty and students.

To do this we must develop and deliver high quality products; we need to be predictable and reliable in our commitments; we have to provide a world-class customer experience; we must continuously innovate to solve your toughest problems; and we must listen and communicate clearly, openly and regularly.

This is what Blackboard stands for; this is our commitment to you.

Helping students succeed by partnering with you to deliver innovation
We understand that a focus on student success is paramount. We can make this happen thanks to the breadth and broad reach of our portfolio, thanks to our ability to distill actionable insights about the world of the learner, and thanks to our unique capacity to deliver innovation across all our solutions.

Speaking about innovation, Katie Blot, our Chief Strategy Officer, talked us through all the new product features and capabilities that we have delivered over the past year. She also shared some exciting developments for Australia and New Zealand.

First of all: we are thrilled to announce that Blackboard Learn is now available as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, through the AWS regional data centres. This is a new delivery model in addition to the self-hosted and managed-hosted deployments that are already available to all our customers.

SaaS deployment is becoming increasingly important for several institutions. Following our recent announcement, those clients who want to move to SaaS can plan to do so, knowing that they can continue to rely on our robust and flexible LMS, (the one that your learners and instructors already know and are familiar with) and, in addition, leverage all the advantages that this model offers, like zero downtime updates, better support and quicker delivery of fixes and features.

Secondly: after transitioning to the SaaS deployment, customers will have the option to switch on the Ultra experience of Learn, which features a simplified user interface, streamlined workflows, a personalised user experience that brings aggregated and actionable information to a user’s view, and a mobile-first design.

Thirdly: we are innovating across our entire ecosystem. During the last year we successfully launched our plugin-free virtual classroom Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, available for both Moodlerooms and Blackboard Learn, and we are continuously adding features and capabilities. We have enhanced Bb Student, the first native mobile solution that enables students to stay up-to-date on their academic progress and requirements. We have also created a new mobile-friendly theme for Blackboard Learn 9.1 based on the design principles of Blackboard Learn Ultra, with a new look and feel as well as mobile responsiveness to key areas of our LMS. And we have released additional functionality supporting student employability and workforce transition.

Fourthly: it’s not all about Learn. In July we launched Moodlerooms 3.0, which incorporates the latest Moodle core enhancements and obtained the IMS Global Conformance Certification. Moodlerooms 3.0 also offers an improved Snap theme and new X-Ray Analytics features.

What’s happening next? Let’s plan together, now.
We heard from many of our clients about the desire to drive academic innovation. Whether you are using Moodlerooms or Blackboard Learn, whether your delivery is on-campus, managed hosting or you aspire to the cloud, there are different ways we can get you started. You now have more choices and flexibility than ever before.

If you’re considering a move to a SaaS model, there’s no need to change your LMS or jettison all the investments you’ve made so far. Blackboard can offer you innovation without disruption, with change management embedded into our solution.

How? The Blackboard Learn 9.1 experience and the Ultra experience can be run simultaneously via the SaaS model, allowing for your courses to be taught in either view. This Dual Course mode allows institutions to transition seamlessly to the Ultra experience according to their own schedule and without risk of service disruption. Go to our Educator Preview and try out the Ultra experience. Check it, play with it, see how easy it is to use.

And for institutions looking for new ways to communicate and engage with students there is a free trial of Collaborate Ultra or they can start a pilot for Bb Student.

Whatever your vision, talk with us, ask us questions, arrange some on site workshops and demonstrations for your key academic innovation stakeholders. And, once you have decided on a course of action, Blackboard can work with you to define all the necessary steps.

We’re ready to plan when you are. We can start today!

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