Take-Aways from Bb World Conference

Last week I had the opportunity to attend Bb World in Las Vegas. Now while you may think, “Oh! Vegas!” That is not my perspective or favorite place. Having said that… I did learn some things, take-aways, worth sharing about the conference.

Image of Las Vegas strip

Las Vegas

First, here’s my disclaimer! These are my impressions and opinions only.

  1. Blackboard Business Model

In recent years Blackboard has focused on the acquisition of competitors and other companies to add to their product line. The result has been a laundry list of products that don’t easily talk to each other, with no cohesiveness in the product line. In the past year, they have hired a number of high level individuals from other prominent tech companies to realign their business model. The goal is to have products and production teams work cross-functionally.  Hopefully, the long-term result will be a seamless menu of products.

  1. Bb Roadmap for Product Development

According to the new head of Blackboard development, the company is focusing on 4 areas: social, mobile, analytical and cloud. I did not have a clear understanding of the product line and found this part of the presentation helpful. Social products include: Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud. The Analytical products include: Connect (notification system), Collaborate, Transact, Mobile, Learn, Engage, and Moodlerooms. For Communication, the products are Connect and Collaborate. The LMS and CMS are Learn, Moodlerooms, and Engage. (At least I knew that!) Core Technologies are Analytics and xPlor.

An additional focus of the product development presentation was the new user interface in Learn service pack 16 – completely different look and feel. We currently use service pack 12. The new interface eliminates the number of clicks without a need to download files, just use the browser. We were assured that there was no migration for content; it just automatically transfers. Another interesting addition from a training standpoint is first time logins result in a tutorial with animation, automatically. Also worth noting is the availability of a District app for notifications. Other “in development” enhancements were mentioned.

  1. Blackboard Reframed for Process, Project and Performance Quality Assurance

Given the name of this presentation, I am surprised that I attended and am glad I did! This was a very different kind of presentation by Blackboard users. What made it so different was the way they are using Blackboard. Most presenters at Blackboard come from education; these presenters are health care providers. The additional difference was how they use Blackboard as a communication and collaboration tool focusing on project management. Definitely out of the box thinking!

  1. Keynote Speakers

Blackboard conferences are known for great keynote speakers. This year was no exception to that rule. From Joi Ito, Director of MIT’s Media Lab to Jay Bhatt, Blackboard’s President, followed by Bob Wise, President of the Alliance for Excellent Education, and concluding with Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, we were challenged and inspired. Each keynote gave a thought provoking message about the future and importance of education.

So, I guess my lesson learned is, it is not about the location but what you take away from the conference that matters most. When you have the opportunity to attend workshops, conferences, etc., learn as much as you can and share!

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