Monday, 30 April 2012

Event Report: Thoughts from the Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference

Image from horrigans under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license
Jo and I attended the Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference in Antwerp last week (and got home very late thanks to a lightning strike on St Pancras that delayed the Eurostar). If you aren't familiar with it, this is Blackboard's main conference in Europe, and it’s a good chance to see what other institutions are doing, get the chance to see and hear about some of the upcoming features from Blackboards products, and it’s also an excellent chance to talk to lots of people who are actually using these systems.

I thought I'd quickly run through the main points of the conference for me:

It was a great conference. I got the chance to speak to a lot of people, and Blackboard were making a lot of time for us. I even got to speak to Ray Henderson (President of Blackboard Academic Platforms), which is something I hadn't expected (I also took the chance to tell him the best way to enjoy his bottle of Henderson's Relish that he was given a couple of years ago). They are getting a lot better at listening to us all and delivering what we need, which is great. Their hospitality is second to none as well.

Blackboard gave us a good view of the upcoming features, and some have got me rather excited (yes, I know, VLE geek). They will be delivering our missing regular expressions and answer contains later in the year, and I have to give them a big thumbs up for this because they have spoken to use several times in the last 12 months and knew how important this was for us. Most exiting though is the new social media element to Learn 9.1, called 'My Blackboard'. This looks brilliant, and I can't wait to get my hands on it next year.

The theme of many of the presentations was focused around Blackboard Mobile. We got a chance to see the new version in action, complete with online tests and augmented reality! Having been a little underwhelmed with the current version of mobile, I think this is now starting to look very interesting. Julie Usher from The University of Northampton was presenting what I thought was some brilliant use of the mobile platform and it has certainly got me thinking about what we could do.

Away from Mobile, it was nice to see Adrian Clarke and Jeff Lewis from Cardiff Metropolitan University presenting the use of high quality video in their L&T. I'm certainly biased (I used to be involved in the production of broadcast standard video as an Avid video editor) but I understand that despite the ease that we can produce video today, there are circumstances where a handheld Flip camera just is not a suitable device to work with. The work they presented clearly demonstrated this need, and showed the techniques they had to perfect their material - it was a good to see these still having a place. I was also very stuck by the entertaining and engaging way Jeff Lewis talked about what they were doing -  it reminded me of Chris Stokes here at Sheffield. It must be something about being a dental lecturer :)

Of course, the other great thing about conferences is to meet with people from other institutions, and it was great to catch up with people again, get to know some new faces and hopefully get the chance to share and develop ideas with them in the future.

So lots to think about, and lots to look forward to.

Sadly, I didn't get chance to see Antwerp - just not enough time.

Oh, one last thing - It seems I was the most active person on the Twitter back channel for the conference. I clearly talk too much ;)

Roll on next year :)


1 comment:

  1. This is nice and informative post. It is really helpful.Thanks sir.



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