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BbWorld17 – Wednesday 26th – Thursday 27th July 2017

Blackboard’s World Conference at BbWorld17

These are my notes and thoughts and should not be seen as a fully accurate or complete account of the information provided.  Some of the information included here contains features that Blackboard are working on / towards but have no guarantee to bring to market.

If you feel I have missed something / been inaccurate in my note taking please let me know in the comments and I will correct / discuss / debate with you 🙂

Harvesting brilliance

In this session, you will learn how NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is re-architecting their learning ecosystem to provide a better user experience. As the “Center of the Universe” for space exploration, JPL has embarked on a journey to expand the ways it delivers learning activities and knowledge sharing.

Imagine a world where sending and receiving data takes hours and then imagine trying to collaborate with researchers all around the world all trying to undertake their own research.
Everyone focuses on the mission and training is a secondary thought. JPL needed to find a way of delivering training in the small spaces of time that staff could engage with training.  Being space short they also need to have a way of delivering this online.
Learning Ecosystem
Things to consider in the learning ecosystem
  • Technology
  • Mentor
  • User Experience
This learning ecosystem can consist of multiple different applications and sites. JPL tied these together through a single portal.
Modernizing Learning.  Some of the things being taught had been taught for 20 years in the same way.
Working with a vendor to create a knowledge capture and transfer platform.
This shows 4 people and their knowledge sources – e.g. talks, videos, papers etc – this then shows how these 4 connect. This allows a user to follow a topic of interest across multiple people and find connections and areas of research you weren’t already aware of.

This has to be a good capture and transfer system and not a static repository. It must be current.

To provide interesting training they are developing “challenges”.  These are issues that had been faced by scientists / engineers in the past that are presented to the learner in a simulated way allowing the user to see if they can come to the solution required to complete the challenge.

Blackboard Learn Roadmap

We invite you to join our product management leaders to hear about the short and long term plans for Blackboard Learn. This session will cover both the Original experience (aka Learn 9.1) and the Ultra experience. You will have the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of what’s new and what’s coming directly from the Learn product team.

Just a reminder that some of the things on this road map may change before they are brought to market.

Demonstration of current functions based around a student story, including the use of ALLY to provide an audio version of the course content.

Same done for an academic using and setting up their course.

Introduction of Institutional pages to the Ultra experience. These can be landing pages for the students emulating experience from original experience.

Nice simple way in ultra to copy content added in other courses into the current course.

Designing to be more consistent and more integrated across all platforms.

Emphasys on Blackboard being a single product – Learn with 2 experiences – Ultra and original

Continue to support self and managed hosting.

203 customers on SaaS, 68 migrations underway and 52 evaluations and pilots

5 critical issues released this year – average time to fix is down to 6.5 days.

Original experience Roadmap:

Support for the new Box View API will be supported back to Q2 2016. Documentation to follow.
LTI 2.0 coming 
System nav, course nav, blogs and journals are to be improved on mobile.

Original and Ultra experience Roadmap:

Integrated audio and video allowing you to add audio and video into key workflows. Bb have built this themselves – not a link to YouTube.
Cloud storage integration improvements.
Building attendance monitoring of the face-to-face sessions first.
This is just a starting point. e.g. in collaborate and with transact this data can be brought into the course.
SafeAssign to get improved load handling at peak times.

A WordPress WorkShop at BbWORLD!?

This will be an interactive workshop, perfect for anyone supporting, working on, building with, or responsible for a WordPress-based system or integration. The content will be based on real-world case studies. FlowPress’ Chief Engineer, Bart Dabek will share a study of a University with over 4,000 WordPress sites on a Multisite Network. Bart will use this case to provide insight into how the FlowPress team diagnosed a series of challenges and implemented the solutions to mitigate them. You’ll walk away with a clear sense of how to manage a complex WordPress environment. Then, participate in a group discussion about scaling WordPress in a higher education environment. We’ll address issues and frustrations related to performance, integration (with Blackboard and other systems), reliability, security, development speed, and stakeholder success. You will leave our session with: – Actionable insights into developing faster and more reliably for WordPress – A manual and working knowledge of our framework for properly auditing your WordPress systems and planning for repairs and improvements – A tool or two to better quantify the success of your environment and; – A number of plugin recommendations What to bring to this workshop: – Laptop or any wifi-enabled device – Access to your WordPress Install (if available) – Any WordPress questions you may have

Do it right from the start!

Check your WP site at

Bb and WP use REST APIs. There is no standard Bb Plugin.

Bb APIs are fixed but WP APIs can be adapted to your own needs.

Good discussion on how WP can be used and bent to your needs – most I was already aware of – would have liked a little more of a demonstration / live example. front end content editor which allows you to export you code simply if needed. NOTE – not scalable so not for large setups

Blackboard Mobile Roadmap for higher education

Mobile is everywhere! In fact, more college students own smartphones than laptops. Join our product team to see an overview of our mobile suite including the newly launched Blackboard Instructor app, understand what our short and long-term product plans are, and gain insight into our overall strategic for learning on the go.

Mobile strategy is to meet the expectations and needs of end users.

Bb aware that they need to build workflows that work on the go.

Responsive design allowing access on any device.

Blackboard App – Built for students
Blackboard Instructor – Built for instructors

Blackboard Instructor

For version 1 of Bb Instructor they have launched with core features and are looking to build on this going forward.

Demonstration of the Bb Instructor app

Allows staff to preview how their content will look to their students.

Grading in development:

Blackboard App

In development: optimised tablet navigation bringing better usability across devices.

This year – support for organisations.

Discussion Board – better indication of what’s new.

Offline support

Attendance, inc ability to check in with unique class code.

Take A (Grades) journey with us: Learn how two institutions implemented Blackboard Grades Journey

Grades Journey is a grade extraction tool that was initially developed for UK institutions, but was made available worldwide in the Q4 2015 Blackboard Learn release. Using this tool, institutions can have grades extracted from the Blackboard Learn Grade Center and imported into their SIS. Chris Bray, from the University of Arkansas / PeopleSoft SIS, and Casey Eubank, from the Wichita Area Technical College / Banner SIS, will discuss Grades Journey, how it was implemented on their campuses, best practices, and lessons learned.

Overview of extraction settings.
Settings are global settings. You can set an email address to receive an email every time grades are extracted so that you can initially keep an eye on the process.
They set their system to allow only the instructor to approve final grade.
WATC run their cron every 2 hours.
WATC also send their staff a PDF showing them how to export their grades from Bb to SIS.

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