You might have missed the announcement from Blackboard a few weeks ago, which was overshadowed by Blackboard’s other announcement. Two new Software as a Service (SaaS) LMS offerings are finally available, six months after they were promised. The new offerings–Blackboard SaaS Plus and SaaS Advantage–join the already available Saas Standard, released at Blackboard World last July. Here is a description of these new […]
Do you currently use Blackboard Collaborate in your courses, as a virtual office, or for online meetings? If you do, then you will definitely want to learn about the new Collaborate with Ultra Experience by registering for one of the upcoming webinar sessions below. The webinar will introduce you to the new sleeker interface within Collaborate and demonstrate how you can take advantage of the improved functionality. If you don’t currently use Collaborate but are interested in finding out how you can connect and engage with your students and colleagues with this powerful videoconferencing platform, consider registering for a session to learn more. Your students will love using the new browser-based Collaborate platform to connect with you and their fellow students.
For your convenience, the VCCS will offer two, hour-long sessions on the next three Fridays in August to VCCS faculty and staff. Space is limited, so please register for only one session to allow for maximum participation . The webinar schedule is:
- Aug. 7: 11am-12pm
- Aug. 7: 12-1pm
- Aug. 14: 11am-12pm
- Aug. 14: 12-1pm
- Aug. 21: 11am-12pm
- Aug. 21: 12-1pm
Each session will provide you with an overview of the features and functionality of the new Collaborate with Ultra Experience. Specifically, the session will cover:
- What is the Ultra Experience?
- Advantages to Collaborate with Ultra Experience
- Use Cases for Collaborate Ultra
- Feature overview
- Technical considerations
- What’s next?
Please register for a session below.
NOTE: Blackboard Collaborate is compatible with all browsers, but for the best experience use Google Chrome. Contact your college help desk staff to see if they will download Chrome to your computer.
Each session is limited to 50 participants. If the session you want does not appear below, that means it is currently full. Additional sessions will be scheduled in the future. After you register, you will receive a link to your webinar session.
Spring 2015 is positively lousy with EdTech-related events, meetings, webinars, and more events. And webinars. There are also meetings: lots of ‘em. Below are the ones I have compiled, at least through April, the cruelest month. For a complete list, go to http://edtech.vccs.edu/upcoming-events/.
If you have an event that you would like to add, please let me know.
February 06, 2015 (Happening now!)
JSRCC FantasTech Virtual Conference
February 09, 2015
Educause Learning Initiative (ELI)
February 11, 2015
Increasing College Access and Success through Zero-Textbook-Cost Degrees
February 17, 2015
New America Foundation: Community College Online
Washington, DC & online
February 19, 2015
ELET Committee Meeting
February 19, 2015
VCCS Peer Group Meeting | Accounting/Business/Economics
February 24, 2015
March 04, 2015
March 08, 2015
March 09, 2015
March 30, 2015
OpenSym 2015 | Call for Papers
March 30, 2015
OxCon: OpenStax Conference
April 01, 2015
New Horizons 2015
April 09, 2015
Council for the Study of Community Colleges Conference (CSCC)
Ft. Worth, TX
April 17, 2015
VWCC 2015 Instructional Technology Mini-Conference
April 22, 2015
OpenEd Global Conference
Banff, Alberta, CANADA
April 22, 2015
OLC | Emerging Technologies for Online Learning
The 2014 VA Bug Conference will take place on Friday, October 24, 2014 in Roanoke, VA at the Holiday Inn at Valley View. No, it is not a conference for Entomologists or Pest Control Professionals. It is the 5th AnnualÂ conference for the VirginiaÂ Blackboard Users Group, a ragtag team of rogue LMS users meeting in secret toÂ share knowledge and ideas with Blackboard users from across theÂ Commonwealth.Â
Of course, you probably know this already but October in the Roanoke ValleyÂ is simply exquisite,Â with the luminousÂ fall foliage at its peak. The Holiday Inn at Valley View is located just a fewÂ miles off of Interstate 81 and is short distance from Roanoke’sÂ historic downtown market area. It is also just a short drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway, where you can take inÂ the beautiful fall colors.
Registration is, ahem, FREE. Â The call for proposals will go out soon for presentations in the following areas:
- Blackboard administration
- Instructional design
- Faculty best practices
- K-12 best practices
You can find out more at the VA Bug website:Â http://vabug.org/
A few posts backÂ I promised to share my open-minded and objective thoughts on Blackboard World 2014, now currently underway in Las Vegas. From the beginning thisÂ trip has been fraught with technical glitches and outright screw ups. Â Due to a hung authorization page, my hotel’s website booked 5 hotel rooms for me instead of one (charging a $100 deposit to my credit card for each). I had planned to take a redeye on my return flight but booked it for the wrong day, necessitating a change and its accompanying fee. There was something else, but I’ve blocked it out. Finally, withÂ all my travel difficultiesÂ smoothed out and my boarding passes snugÂ in the digital ether of my smartphone, I showed up early at the airport for my flight.
That was yesterday. I am still in Richmond, VA. My reflections on the conference are going toÂ be fairly brief.
Long story short: after two canceled flights, a full day waiting at the airport, and a flight rescheduled for the next day (today), the time I was going to be able toÂ spend in VegasÂ becameÂ extremely brief as I had already scheduledÂ a short trip. The airline offered me a refund. TheÂ hotel returned my deposit. I emailed my apologies to the various people who were expecting to be at the conference. I’d say I broke even.
There’s always next year.
I have just finished making my flight and hotel reservations for Blackboard World 2014. I finalized theseÂ plans with a somewhat troubledÂ heart, loatheÂ toÂ participate in an event that to me is a frenzied celebration of the commercialization of education, Â couched as a probing, open, academic conference. Let me just come right out and say it: BlackboardÂ®, Inc. is an easy company to hate. Once an inferior product withÂ a sizableÂ market share,Â Blackboard went on a buying spree, gobbling up smaller web service companies and absorbing them into their product ecosystem. Angel integrated with Learn. Elluminate and Wimba became Blackboard Collaborate. TerribyClever Design became the platform for Blackboard Mobile. iStrategy became Analytics. Presidium was transformed intoÂ Blackboard Student Services. Moodlerooms. The list goes on.
Over the past year, BlackboardÂ has been civilizingÂ the Frankenstein monster they’ve created from the spare parts of other companies, trying to build anÂ integrated product lineÂ that can compete with some of the new upstartÂ in the LMS market, notably Instructure’s Canvas. I’ve generally liked the direction Blackboard is headed, and how much more responsive they have been to both customer and user feedback. But, like all LMSs, no matter howÂ good Blackboard is or becomes, it will still beÂ a problem disguised as a solution. More on that later.
The VCCS is a big customer of Blackboard, Inc., and part of my job is to overseeÂ our LMS, Blackboard Learn, including xpLor, and Blackboard Collaborate. Â It makes sense that I should go despite howÂ uncomfortable I feel about attending. Appropriately, the conferenceÂ is being held in Las Vegas, the City of Mammon, which only adds to my sense of loathing (to reference Hunter S. Thompson). AnyÂ fascination I hadÂ forÂ Vegas has long worn off. Regardless, the die has been cast. It’s Vegas or bust. I have been to Bb World once before, in New Orleans in 2012. I Â spent most of the conference agog at the sheer monumental size ofÂ everything:Â Â from the clamoring hordes of badgedÂ participants to the soaring spaces of the Â Convention Center that seemed to stretch on for miles.Â I felt I wasÂ strolling throughÂ a gigantic product placement. For 2014, I have been invited to beÂ on a panel titledÂ Instructional Content & the LMS in which the moderator, a Bb employee, offersÂ aÂ rather vagueÂ description of the session: “The LMS has transformed education. It has brought traditional teaching online and has enabled a level of experience in education that was not previously possible.” You could read this in a number of ways, depending on how you define traditional teaching and level of experience.
I will use this blogÂ to reflect on my experiences at the conference, and report on any notable announcements that Blackboard inevitably makes at these events. Until then, what are your thoughts about the various products Blackboard offers? About the LMS in general? Have you been to Bb World before? Was it a valuable experience?