#BbWorld17 – Devcon: @Blackboard Technology State of the Union

Session Description: Come hear Tim Tomlinson @timtomlinson, Chief Product Officer for Blackboard, outline Blackboard’s product development philosophy and progress. Tim will outline Blackboard’s overall approach to product development and highlight key achievements and development priorities. We’ll also announce the winners of the 2017 Hackathon.



  • Blackboard “Your Partner in Change”
  • Sponsors Amazon Web Services and Amazon Alexa
  • 375 developers, 250 institutions, 18 countries at DevCon
  • 20 years of Blackboard – Founded in 1997

Product Development

  • Product Excellence and Quality – 100s of bug fixes with focus on not releasing new bugs, updated technology, simplified releases
  • Quality – New focus on initial quality and maintenance with a new build-and-test automation to increase almost 600% in fix requests delivered, installer size reduced 33% and run time is down 20%, with managed hosting 80% of update procedures are automated, average time of resultion down to 6.5 days, new test automation technology and higher coverage, updated performance testing technology
  • Innovation – Innovating in products and in the way products are delivered (self-hosted, managed hosted, Saas). Recognized by Ovum and PC Magazine. Ally was introduced to assist in providing accessibility for students.  Blackboard Instructor mobile app is brand new for the needs of the faculty persona. REST API, IMS Standards (LTI, Caliper, Common Cartridge) Support, new architectural paradigm through micro-services, and more.

“The widespread availability of business-grade “as-a-service” (aka cloud) offerings is affecting all industry sectors, and higher education is no exception. However, while the institutional discussion regarding cloud has moved from “if” to “when,” most organizations are still challenged as to the practicalities of how they get to the future state. At the recent Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC) in Sydney, Australia, Blackboard laid out a transition plan to help institutions manage the move while minimizing disruption.” – OVUM

‘Blackboard’s interface was dated and counterintuitive, and I worried that the company simply couldn’t both satisfy long-time customers and create an interface that would attract new ones. The latest version, Blackboard Learn 9.1, has allayed my concerns, bringing a fresh look and feel—and responsive design—to existing Original courses and a sleek Ultra view for new ones.” – PCMAGAZINE

  • Transparency – Blackboard Community is growing strong to involve clients in the direction of the product and the needs for clients – and to build community among developers, users, faculty, and system admins.
  • Accountability – Tracking via report cards along with building community as a partner to align needs of institutions with solutions that Blackboard provides. Additional Learn and Collaborate REST APIs will continue, additional LTI placements points for Building Blocks in the Ultra experience, activity stream support including Caliper, fully committee to delivery product experiences that conform to global accessibility concerns (W3C, Section 508 Compliance, BSI) with Learn and Collaborate being the most accessible platforms in the education market today. 200 partners and over 3,000 extensions. 
  • NEW! Open Innovation Initiative – A FREE open license for developers for the ability to test integrations.


  • 203 clients on SaaS
  • 68 additional migrations underway
  • 52 more evaluations and pilots
  • Awarded: aws competency status via Amazon

Blackboard is a partner for you to provide flexibility in deployment for your needs:


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