Durham Day 3

Final day.

Senior VP product management

Bbeyond (Bb, LMS and bbeyond the lms).

Blackboard itself is now scattered accross the world with a number of offices – colleagues no longer always work along the corridor from each other.  New office in Bulgaria (idea is support calls will follow the sun so there is always someone working on your problem).

Lots of investment currently in Bb mobile.

Location Based Examples from Blackboard

Tulane – after hurricane katrina.  Closed campus but used Bb to support distance learning for a semester (students also attended other uni’s campuses).  They held onto 87% of their students.

Northumberland college – had rapidly reached 90% course uptake.  Then in cold weather the Bb activity contined even when college was closed.  Now have a formal policy based on Bb use when staff/students cant physically attend.

Collumbian goverment workforce training is hosted by Blackboard.  3.3 million people trained in 2009.  Coaches with pc and wifi visit remote areas.

Location – software, example linking in google functionality to Blackboard courses.

Link with McGraw Hill materials – allow staff to link their blackboard course to subject specific interactive materials.

Plans for Bb mobile to allow direct upload of pictures from a mobile to the Bb course (currently on discussion boards – later to other areas).

NG Status

Check out maintenance blog – they are currently looking at course files issues.

Bug squad – look at bugs and direct Bb as to what they should fix next (worth checking out?).

Course files issues & Course copy – really big team working on this.

9.1 SP4 fixes a lot of the course copy permissions issues.

SP5 fixes all outstanding issues and will allow the “move course files” to properly move files from legacy to the course content area.

Cohorts – this groups a bunch of clients that are all on similar release and planning to move to a new similar release at a similar time.  There is a spring cohort for move to 9.1 starting soon.

Things to come (possibly)

Basic LTI (in SP4).

SP6 gets better rubrics.

SP8 will have the learning object repository.  So wiki’s, tests etc can be shared across courses.

SP6 has a decent scorm player.  SP6 has xythos webdav!!

So for me what I took from the talk was – by Summer (service pack 6) the problems around course content and moving course content will have been dealt with and the Xythos bit will mean that you can interact with your files on the web(in content system) as if they were part of your “my documents” and unlike webdav it will work everywhere.

Keynote2 – (dis)location

Mobile phones have had a radical effect on the locations of learning particularly where mobile learning is designed as part of the learning process.

Use of mobiles to induct students to your uni (using them to successfully move students into your location).

Exploiting location – record and process your data where you are – field trip (rather than sticking on paper and adding to system later when back at uni and on computer).

Not just where you are but also where you have been can be tracked and this data can link to what you might like to see.  (ie visit several of one kind of painting and it tells you when you pass a gallery with a painting by same author).

Mobiles allow us to exploit time better as we can contact people anywhere pushing meetings around and doing stuff when waiting rather than just waiting.


Location as a tag rather than a folder structure.  Was a lot of maths and graphs in this presentation – which I am sure are interesting to Maths Academics but were less so to eLearners and made it a bit more difficult to understand (I spent 1/2 the presentation thinking that the tag clouds changed in size based on how far away you were from where they were tagged – in fact each wifi spot had its own tag cloud and you only saw the tags of the cloud you were in).

Interestingly the groups idea of what was relevant was more personally helpful to students than their own personal rating (slightly).

Idea – if student could rate content in a course (or student pulled in content to a course) then the ranking system would be helpful to all students even those that hadn’t rated (and following years could benefit from original years ranking).

Has education changed in the digital age

Has teacher training and what teachers do changed.

Took a survey of 75 staff (out of potential 500).  He then talked us through the various result sets.  Ive viewed much larger surveys on similar topic and so this was of little interest to me – interesting from the point of view of seeing what the staff in their institution do/think of eLearning.  Sample size was further reduced by eliminating all staff who answered “No” to the first question (do you use digital communication) from answering the following questions.  So effective sample size was 35.

Also the College the eLearner came from seems to be significantly behind the eLearning curve, they were still wondering if web2.0 had the potential to change learning in any way – I think that question was answered a number of years ago.

Upgrade discussion

9.1 with no or few SP has major issues with file permissions.  Also has a habit of logging you out when trying to view some files/pictures etc.

Really this session was less useful as all the horror stories were about problems that are either already fixed in service packs OR are due to be fixed in the next one.


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