BbWorld15 was my second time attending a Blackboard World conference and it was another great experience. It’s so amazing (and wonderful) to see so many passionate educators from around the world come together to discuss and share ideas.
The theme of the conference was Inspire the World to Learn with a focus on learner-centricity and the student voice. As a student and fan of Blackboard, it’s very exciting to see these two topics align perfectly with the new Mission & Vision that CEO Jay Bhatt announced last year at BbWorld14. With a Vision of A World Inspired to Learn, this hits the mark perfectly because in order to do this we must Inspire the world to learn. At the same time if education moves toward a more learner-centric approach we will be truly Reimagining Education. One of the slides during the corporate keynote displayed how big of an impact they have in a student’s daily life. Not only is this true in the ‘day in the life,’ but throughout the whole education continuum. I’ve been using Blackboard technology for the past eight years. Starting with Blackboard Engage (Edline) in Middle School to WebCT & Learn in High School and currently Learn and myEdu. It’s inspiring to see a company of this caliber take the lead in the ‘education revolution.’ Technology has the power to transform how we experience and engage with our education. Now is the time to put the ‘L’ back in LMS and discover the next generation way of teaching & learning. It shouldn’t just be a CONTENT Management System, but a LEARNING Management System.
The main thing that came out of this learner-centric focus was Blackboard’s New Learning Experience or NLE for short. The NLE is Blackboard’s new approach to education that fosters better engagement, interaction, and quality learning. As a Blackboard user it’s nice to see that they have a set vision for improving their products. Speaking of products, during the conference I finally had the opportunity to play with the new Learn Ultra. I’ll admit when Ultra was first announced last year I was skeptical about the redesign and missing features, but after testing it out I’m excited for the launch. The workflows have been simplified, you can now drag & drop files and of course it has that new modern flat design. One of the great new features is that everything is now consolidated into the Activity Stream. No longer do we have to switch between the My Institution and My Blackboard tabs to view recent activity. Hopefully with these easier workflows instructors will now branch out of the basic content and announcements and try new features. (It would be beneficial if there was a web tour that appeared when new features are made available to give instructors more information.) Ultra is in fact so easy that after using it for the first time I was able to give another attendee a demonstration of the software. You can expect more Learn Ultra posts from me when the Technical Preview becomes available to the public.
During the conference, Blackboard also introduced the new Blackboard Community site. When completed the community site will house community programs, product suggestion submissions and the Ask the MVPs forum. For more details on joining the community site, click here. Overall it was a very informative conference and it was great getting to connect with other MVPs and Blackboarders. I’m excited for the Learn Ultra product launch and hopefully for the quick adoption by my university. The countdown is now on for #BbWorld16 in Las Vegas so we can all continue to Inspire the World to Learn.