BbWorld 2012 So Far..

Greetings from New Orleans.. we are having a great time and learning a lot at BbWorld 2012!

We kicked off the morning with a keynote with Michael Chasen, President and CEO of Blackboard, Inc. and Ray Henderson, President Academic Platforms, Blackboard, Inc. After a few silly jokes, Chasen and Henderson described the future of Blackboard Inc and cross-platform technologies, along with some really cool features coming soon for Blackboard Mobile Learn.

Some useful sessions I attended today included Discovering Free Building Blocks, presented by Melissa Stange from Shenandoah University. She detailed the processes necessary to test and implement free building blocks, and the risks and rewards involved in the process. She also provided a list of the building blocks used at Shenandoah – many of which we will look into using at SHSU.

From Self-Hosted to Blackboard Managed Hosting: Crossing Your Ts and Dotting Your Is went over the process of moving from a Blackboard instance hosted on-campus to a managed solution, hosted by Blackboard. The move has many advantages, such as data redundancy, off-site and back-up data hosting in case of emergency, and dedicated staff at Blackboard to apply updates and patches – freeing IT staff to focus on other tasks.

How to Get the Most Out of Blackboard Support gave an overview of the recent revamping of Behind the Blackboard – Blackboard’s support network and ticket system for system admins. Their knowledge base has been consolidated and streamlined to make it easier to find what you are looking for – they previously had over 13,000 wiki pages and now there are less than 3,000! A feedback system has also been implemented for us sysadmins to help improve the content. The best feature mentioned was a new Faculty and Student portal, where students and faculty can access Blackboard knowledge base articles and support material – we will be sure to make this link visible for our institution’s use.

The last session of my day was Collaborating with Blackboard on Roles and Privileges, in which different roles for users in Blackboard (such as Student, Instructor, Support, System Admin) were discussed and how privileges associated with each are controlled. We also discussed how painful it is that privileges don’t have a description on the same page as where they are activated, and the session was provided with an Excel document containing descriptions for all privileges — there are over 400!

Overall, I learned lots of useful information in today’s sessions that will help improve our support team and make it work more efficiently, and some really exciting previews of all the things our new Blackboard will be able to do.

We’ve got another full day ahead of us tomorrow, and I am looking forward to learning more!

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