The recent Internet2 Global Summit showcased how the Internet2 community is transforming research and advancing academic excellence. Cloud deployment, cybersecurity, and accessibility were key topics, and in an executive track leaders explored the future of research universities.

Blackboard CEO Jay Bhatt raised challenging questions about the role of leading universities in transforming educational models, as part of a thought-provoking executive panel discussion at the Global Summit. He pointed out that technology has only begun to saturate the world of education, at the same time that technologies originating in research universities have completely transformed other industries. His remarks initiated a dynamic dialogue among the panelists, including Shel Waggener, Internet2 SVP. The audience left the room with a call to action for educational institutions and industry to work together to evolve educational models.

Blackboard is proud to be making contributions in this community. We’ve made a lot of progress since initiating our strategic partnership with Internet2 just over a year ago. Our NET+ service validation process was both robust and efficient, resulting in our NET+ Solution achieving General Availability status in July 2014. The technology leaders who drove the service validation have become our trusted Internet2 Advisory Board, from Cornell University, the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, the University of Maryland–Baltimore County, the University of Texas at Arlington, and Virginia Commonwealth University. We are working together to ensure the Solution meets the needs of the community.

The cloud-based Blackboard NET+ Solution provides frameworks for cross-institutional, standards-based collaboration. Robust analytics and learning outcomes dashboards provide on-demand access to data to demonstrate achievement and analyze user activity and course design, also enabling common benchmarking across institutions. xpLor, Blackboard’s content sharing and discovery platform, enables development and sharing of course materials within and across institutions using LTI and Common Cartridge across all standards-compliant LMSs. xpLor content can be tagged, rated, and aligned to competencies and widely adopted standards sets. Blackboard Collaborate provides a synchronous, interactive, mobile learning experience for student engagement during and beyond classes, using innovative WebRTC technology combined with learner-centric design for unprecedented ease of use.

As Jack Suess, Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at the University of Maryland–Baltimore County says, “Student success is critically important and we need innovative, standards-based tools so when we identify approaches that work, they can be easily replicated in other institutions.”

Blackboard’s next collaborative ventures with the Internet2 community include our contributions to the new Collaborative Innovation Program, led by Internet2 Chief Innovation Officer Florence Hudson. The initial working groups will focus on:

  • End to End Trust and Security, to “develop an architecture and implementation approach to enable ‘end to end trust and security’ for the research and education community.”
  • Distributed Big Data and Analytics, to “extend Internet2 capabilities in advanced networking, cloud services, and federated identity to enable members to better manage distributed big data and analytics.”
  • Internet of Things (IOT), exploring the challenges of how “the IOT will incorporate many physical devices, sensors, and facilities into a variety of public and private networks.”

These are precisely the types of complex, high-impact initiatives that require a broad base of community commitment and talent across academic institutions, industry, national organizations, and research partners. Blackboard thought leaders, subject matter experts, and technology innovators are looking forward to these engagements, as part of Internet2, a community leading the way.

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