Earlier this month when Chris Vento, former CIO of WebCT now SVP of Blackboard Product Development came to the Blackboard headquarters here in DC for the first time and he walked into the offices no one stopped him.  He said that felt really weird. But he said it got even weirder when someone took his picture and gave him a badge, he got a network login, he was given an office with his name on the chalkboard hanging next to his office door and was given a tour of the building.  He said it felt like he was in some strange science fiction movie.

Since we officially became one organization just over a month ago, Blackboard-ers and their former WebCT counterparts have been having lots of meetings to learn about the inner workings of each other’s company, technology, business, and culture.  Each meeting, teleconference, and demonstration brings a shared vocabulary, increase in knowledge exchanged and lots of lessons learned and best practices.   It has been lots of work but also lots of fun to get to know one another. 

As Director of the Blackboard Building Blocks program I’ve been spending a lot of time with my counterparts who manage the WebCT PowerLinks program.  For years I have wondered about the underlying technology, the features of the WebCT Vista DevNet, and the secret sauce that they have that makes PowerLinks, well, so powerful!  Yesterday I had my own “science fiction moment” when the PowerLinks team gave me a login to the Vista DevNet.  I logged in and was impressed with the breadth and depth of information and resources available to PowerLinks developers.  The more I learn, the more questions I have, and the more excited I get about how we can take the lessons learned from the PowerLinks and Building Blocks programs and leverage the best practices from the two communities.   

One of the best practices we’ve already begun implementing is the WebCT practice of setting goals/objectives for every meeting or teleconference.  Having a clear set of objectives at the outset of every meeting or trip makes it easier to ensure that everyone is on the same page and can prepare for the meeting.  During the meeting it keeps the participants focused and cuts down on “meeting for meetings sake” and other potential time-sucks. 

What lessons learned do you have about developing or using PowerLinks or Building Blocks?  What best practices can you share?  What recommendations do you have for improving these programs or technology.  We would love to hear from you.  Please drop me a line. blogfeedback@blackboard.com

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