Smiling college students researching at laptop in library

Higher Colleges of Technology: A 2019 Blackboard Catalyst Award Winner for Leading Change


Our annual Catalyst Awards recognize and honor innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice, where millions of educators and learners work every day to redefine what is possible when leveraging technology. Winners were selected by a cross-functional team of Blackboard experts and the honorees, from across the globe, were recognized in July at BbWorld 2019. Below learn how HCT is using Blackboard to innovate for students in the United Arab Emirates.

Leading the Way in the UAE

The Higher Colleges of Technology have used Blackboard products and services for the last 16 years. In the 2018 spring term, HCT’s Academic Council selected Blackboard’s Grade Center as the university’s official grading platform, decommissioning its custom in-house portal grade book. The move was to better align HCT’s assessment and grading procedures with international standards and best practices. This was a first of its kind in the Middle East region, where HCT is leading the way in how the learning management system (LMS) is playing a critical role in ensuring teachers and learners are engaged and utilizing the latest in educational technology.

How It Works

At HCT, Blackboard’s Grades Journey solution has been transformed in a unique way to meet the defined mandate and business processes relating to assessments and grading within the LMS. As a result, all 17 campuses of the university have adopted Blackboard’s Grade Center as the official grading platform. Before this unique implementation, faculty were using both Blackboard’s Grade Center for formative and summative assessments and the old portal grade book to enter final student grades. This resulted in faculty experiencing pain points such as having to enter grades in multiple grade books leading to frustration, erroneous grade entries and incorrect mapping of assessment strategies against course work assessment columns and final exam grades. Faculty are now able to use one grade book, which provides them a simplified workflow of submissions, approvals and transfer of their students’ final grade into the student information system (Sis).

Additionally, a custom provisioned institution-wide reporting tool provides HCT’s Assessment unit detailed analytics to monitor grading anomalies and periodically report relevant data to HCT’s leadership.

The Outcome

The usage data extracted to measure the impact of this implementation showed an exponential growth in the utilization of Blackboard Learn at HCT. The data also provides sufficient evidence to HCT leadership on Faculty adhering to and meeting the Academic Council mandated grading submission and approval deadlines.

Author: Azim Ahmed is the Senior Manager, LMS in the Education Technologies Division at the Higher Colleges of Technology. He can be reached at