#BbWorld16 -General Session: Fueling success: learner-focused strategies


Highlights from the IBM and AWS partnerships.


  • Peter George, SVP Product Development, Blackboard – IBM and AWS Partnerships
    • Is it best for Bb to design and built our own data centers? Recognize that there are vendors that specialize in this work. IBM and Amazon were selected as the best partners for the future. Benefit to improve quality of service through their expertise, and focus development efforts and leverage the rich ecosystem that Amazon provides for cloud services.
  • Brenda Harvey, General Manager Public Sector, Global Technology Services, IBM
    • Security and data security and compliance are of highest priority. Safeguards are in place through tools and threat detection and proactive monitoring.
    • Working with Blackboard on the transition. Looking to envision the future of learning with IBM Watson Education. Optimizing analytics is a target.
  • Mark Ryland, Chief Solutions Architect, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services
    • Security is the highest priority. High scale and automation can help with core security. 3rd party auditors are continuously involved because of the large scope of use of Amazon services by various constituencies, including government sensitive data.


Hear from peers representing K-12, Higher Ed, and Corporate/Government Education institutions discuss the unique and compelling ways they’re getting to know their learners. Panelists will deep-dive into the tools and strategies they’re employing to fuel student success, including:

  • Leveraging data to improve outcomes and student support
  • Redefining the roles of faculty and learners
  • Harnessing the power of innovations and solutions that help narrow the achievement gap


  • Dr. Micheal Moore, VP for Academic Affairs, University of Arkansas
    • eVersity – Launching a new university. New innovative ways to reinvent what isn’t working. Focusing on the adult learner who started college and stopped without completing the degree. 100% online with classes 6 weeks, average age of 35 for students.
    • Data is an important topic, yet there are concerns about privacy. Comparing students against each other, even if anonymous, especially if students begin to opt-out – yet there is a FERPA question around can we use the data as part of our normal work needs.
    • For disadvantaged students and at risk students – the trick is to get students in front of an advisor early on. And to take action long before the mid-term. Grit score and the Hope scale – do you think you have the ability to change your situation.
    • Helping to identify if learning objects are actually working to deliver instruction. Can we zero in on the learning pathways and continue to improve instruction while looking at personalization and individualization needs.
    • Looking at Fitbit and Strava dashboards and compare with peers.

How much time have you spend online, and how do your logins to Blackboard compare, and how does your grade look to your peers? Making these data available to students can help to motivate students and prompt them to succeed.

  • Colonel Steven Delvaux, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Army University
    • Army U – Began last year and there is a realization that there was need to focus on the cognitive realm. Army has a lot of physical data of those in service, but there is need also for doing a better job of educating.
    • Data in Army U is a goal for how do students learn, and do they have the knowledge of the needs of combat. We have a resource contraint with all the data available, and get smarter faster. We have to deliver instruction worldwide at the point of need. Often leanring is on the fly and in the field. Instruction needs to be often dynamic and on demand. How can we use predictive instruction so that we can get information to soldiers knowing what they will need in the field.
    • Sometimes we rely on generalizations, but we really need to get out and to actually know our students through data and relationships.
    • Starting now to train our next generation of Generals for 2050. Having a long term view.
    • U Tex – Gaming principles, coupled with motivation and feedback is important. Also looking at predictor of success, such as logging into Blackboard before the course start date and look at syllabus.
  • Julie Young, CEO Global Personalized Academies, Florida Virtual
      • Focusing on blended learning strategies to build on the florida virtual experiences that were gained and the big goal is to zero in on personalized learning, common collaboration, solving world problems, global and internationalization focus.
      • Knowing the learner is about really knowing the learner. Their life outside of class as well as in class. Putting the student at the center, making parents partners, and create learning that is not 1 size fits all so that instruction is personalized.
      • Data – we have so much data and it can be noise. We need to teach people how to use data and work to cut through the distractions. Data tells a story about the things that you wouldn’t normally know. Say, work habits, accomplishments, progress, where they excel where they didn’t, determine when students work online, and data is also used for teacher support. Data can tell a huge story which can inform our work.
      • Education and virtual programs in Florida were about defining opportunity and giving students an advantage of learning, rather than focusing on learning as defined by your zip code. Work to inspire and support students that aspire to be greater.
      • Innovations such as the integration of SafeAssign. Nervanix – using brain detection for when there was a loss of attention during study.

    Nervanix Clarity Whiteboard Overview from Nervanix on Vimeo.

    • Kids will reinvent themselves online. Especially students that may not thrive in the classroom will emerge online. Kids have the ability to do much more and go much deeper if they are engaged and they will surprise you.  We need more models that allow students to break the mold – give students and acknowledge their work outside of school and to recognize that much learning happens outside of formal settings.
    • Online learning can give opportunity to disadvantaged students.

Let’s keep the conversation going about how we can improve learning…


One thought on “#BbWorld16 -General Session: Fueling success: learner-focused strategies

  1. Pingback: Highlights from #BbWorld16 | eLearning and Emerging Technologies @GVSU

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