Earlier this year, I received a random e-mail from a student at Carnegie Mellon University named Ed.

Now, I have to admit that as the manager of Blackboard’s developer community, I receive quite a number of random e-mails, which range from students asking me how they can enroll in their courses to professors who can’t remember their passwords.  I don’t quite know how some of these folks find my name, but I do know that I can attribute the particular message I’d like to tell you about here to EduGarage.

Ed’s email began: "I am a junior at Carnegie Mellon University . . ."  He continued: “CMU utilizes the Blackboard Learning System . . . one of our ideas for our group project was [to create] a widget of sorts . . . I have been researching your site and EduGarage . . . I thought you might know someone who could be of assistance.”

A few months later, which I’m sure included many long nights of coding by Ed and his peers, I found myself at CMU this past Friday, admiring the handiwork of Ed and his team – a completed Blackboard Building Block that displays such information as course announcements, calendar items and new course content alerts inside of a Yahoo dashboard widget.

At their end-of-semester project showcase, Professors Larry Heimann, Chris Kowalsky, Randy Weinberg, Jeria Quesenberry and Raja Sooriamurthi walked me through a tour of this team’s work, and the entire class’s array of projects (no pun intended for you programmers out there).

I couldn’t be more proud of the CMU students for tackling the challenge of creating their own Building Block.  And I couldn’t be more impressed to see the many other great ideas that came out of their class.

Blackboard has invited the CMU team to present its work at the Blackboard Developers Conference this summer in Las Vegas, July 14-15.  We encourage you to attend to see the team members’ work first-hand and hear the story behind their project.

Kudos to Team 10 — Ed, Keisha, Dhruv, Hamza and Howard.  We hope that your innovativeness and hard work will motivate others to explore pursuing student projects at their institutions, as well.  You have certainly inspired all of us here at Blackboard with your example of a student-centered tool made for students, by students.

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