Sharing Some Thoughts on TLC Europe

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This past May we were honoured to host hundreds of educators, learning specialists and thought leaders from across Europe for our annual Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC).  It was the tenth edition of our TLC, and I am delighted to see the continued success of our initiative, which has become an important milestone on the calendar of learning professionals.  

At Blackboard, we pride ourselves on our role as crucibles of ideas for the education community and this year, more than ever, we saw delegates taking active roles during sessions, sharing experiences and best practices, and signing up for our community programmes. Many attendees also took the opportunity to join our community site, where they can network with more than 13,000 peers from around the world.

One of the things I like most about TLC is that it gives us the opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved in the last year and sets the tone for the upcoming months. And 2018 has been a significant year for us from both a local point of view and a global perspective. Europe is a key region for us, and we continued to see great momentum in many countries. For example, we started working with many institutions, including Galileo Global Education, Europe’s largest higher education group with more than 100,000 students around the world. We signed new channel partnership agreements in Poland, the U.K., Italy and France, and we saw steady growth in many markets, including Spain, the Nordics and Benelux. We came a long way in innovating our solutions and I am really proud that many Blackboard solutions have been largely influenced by you, our clients in Europe. In fact, development of Blackboard Collaborate, Ally and eTeacher have all been initiated in Europe.

From a global standpoint, as our CEO, Bill Ballhaus, said in his remarks, we have simplified our business, focusing investments on teaching and learning and institutional performance to accelerate innovation. We have also moved from a single product approach to a holistic development mindset that focuses on the capability, rather than on the tool itself, designing an EdTech platform that delivers better learner engagement and enhanced academic effectiveness by leveraging meaningful educational insights. 

We are continuing to deliver for you, our clients, both in terms of product developments and innovations. Through continued major releases and a series of cumulative updates, we’ve made investments in the Original experience of Learn in key areas, including quality, responsiveness and data access and insights. We stepped up our development efforts for the Ultra experience—delivering more than 65 features in 2018 and 15 during the first quarter of 2019—to provide teachers and students with tools that are both simple and powerful.  

We are also bringing the power of new technologies into our EdTech platform. For example Ally, our content accessibility solution, leverages machine-learning techniques to create alternative formats and in Ultra, instructors who are grading discussion forums are given data ranging from statistical information to linguistic analysis to help them grade more efficiently and effectively.

Together with Ultra and Ally, the other two stars of TLC “fab four” were Blackboard Data and the eTeacher Programme. Blackboard Data is our new set of data/analytics capabilities that will amplify the EdTech platform by drawing together data from Blackboard’s SaaS products and services, and by surfacing insights both to researchers and into workflows that make the most sense for users. But to truly deliver innovation and enhance academic effectiveness, we also need to provide teachers with adequate training. The Digital Teaching and Learning Series, also known as eTeacher, empowers education professionals with the skills and pedagogical knowledge to confidently deliver a high-quality learning experience to the learners of tomorrow.

TLC, of course, is not just about Blackboard. A great benefit of attending the conference is learning from peers how they used technology to tackle some of the issues they face every day. And with dozens of client-led sessions, workshops and during informal gatherings during the three days, I believe all attendees brought back to their institutions new ideas and many valuable contacts.

Looking ahead to the second half of 2019 and beyond, I think it is clear our that we’re committed to driving and accelerating innovation. While institutions across Europe may have different needs, I know we have the expertise and the knowledge to be not a simple solution provider but a true partner, and work with you and help you drive student, teacher and institutional success. 

Thanks from the entire Blackboard team and me to all the attendees and looking forward to seeing you again next year!