#BbWorld18 – Opening Session

Join us as we kick off BbWorld 2018 with Bill Ballhaus, Blackboard CEO.


  • Attendees from all 50 states and 34 countries
  • Nearly 40% are first timers
  • 26% have been to 4 or more BbWorlds
  • 53% here to learn from peers
  • Opportunity to improve outcomes and student success and help meet institutional goals and objectives.
  • Deep partnerships have been forged with over 100 millions users over 20 years around the globe.
  • Columbia – providing job training for former rebels.
  • Improving access to content from 48% to 76% though Ally.
  • Student expectations – Education costs, increased credentials, demand connected/seamless/intuitive.
  • Increased pace of institutional change.
  • Integrated accessibility tools, plagiarism detection, and leading synchronous video conferencing all in one system.
  • Blackboard is your partner in change. Accelerate adn drive change through the benefits of technology, to promote student success, and to help meet institutional goals and objectives.
  • Blackboard EdTech Platform is core as an LMS – Serving more clients in more countries than anyone in the market.
  • LMS is essential is not enough the focus is on network of solutions beyond a niche software provider. Blackboard provided an integrated experience.
  • Connected experience, data driven insights, and flexible solutions are provided by Blackboard. Delivering what others cannot. Blackboard provided a common user interface across a connected experience with data driven insights.

  • LMS Attendance, Mobile/card Credential, Virtual Attendance, Integrated Data, Mobile Apps
  • 1 product, 2 experiences, and 3 deployments (self-hosted, managed-hosted, saas)
  • New features like attendance and audio/video capture. Quality and responsiveness design improvements.

  • 383 clients on SaaS in 25 countries. Zero downtime and monthly update cadence.
  • Ultra has been adopted by 61 clients, 34 pilots, and 274 clients in cohorts.
  • Ultra has been rapidly updated over the last year with a variety of features and functionality updates.

  • Blackboard App has 6.3 million downloads, 2018 SIIA Codie Award for Best Education App, with a 4.6 Star Apple Rating

  • Ally was brought to market last year, 338 institutions licenses, 1.9 million students are using Ally with 187 million content items checked. Winner of the WCET WOW Award and the USDLA Innovation Award and IMS Learning Impact Award.

  • Blackboard is the first to offer this capability and to partner with Apple

  • Saas Deployment is growing rapidly.
  • Maria… a student with a seamless connected experience from mobile to live videoconferencing all in one interface.

  • Student common on Learn Ultra “so easy, even my grandma can use it”
  • Attendance is available on Ultra and Original Experience.
  • Audio/video feedback is also available in the both experiences.
  • Blackboard Instructor app now includes grading.
  • Blackboard Ally focuses on accessibility but also provides alternative formats such as audio only.
  • Blackboard Collaborate Ultra provided 4.8 billion minutes in the past year. 250% increase from 2016 to 2017. New features provides support for 500 attendees, phone-only access, private chat.

  • VitalSource provides content at low cost through content providers. Market leader in provided inclusive access to text content.
  • Blackboard Transact – Provides campus ID for purchasing, dining, laundry, security, attendance, and access.
  • Data driven insights include predictive analytics such as early alert provides connected and seamless integration to student success initiatives. (Maria – student, Bob – instructor, Sylvia – advisor)

  • Early alert (Blackboard Predict) provide student and faculty insight and alerts advisors. The focus is on student retention.
  • Blackboard is invested in IMS standards such as LTI Advantage.
  • REST APIs are also available to extend the Blackboard platform for individual needs and unique capabilities.
  • Learn Ultra Institution Pages (Community system tabs and modules) – Responsive, Modern, and Scalable

  • Blackboard Ally for Websites – This is available as a solution for websites.
  • Blackboard offers a “Strategic Partnership Framework” to provide a wealth of options and flexibility for education.
  • The FUTURE – Blackboard supports innovation through broad portfolio, broad solutions, broad services and global reach.

#BbWorld18 – DevCon: The Death of Liberal Arts (And Why We Need to Save Them!)

Session Description: Liberal arts, humanities, and critical thinking subjects are dying in education. WHY? Today, so much emphasis is put on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in education, but that is excluding a critical part of learning! Join me as I dive into why defunding these areas is detrimental to the automation/testing field. Let’s explore the most utilized skills essential to my career in technology, all a result of my Liberal Arts background. How can we apply these skills to our teams? What do we do when someone doesn’t have that background? Let’s take a look at how the humanities can help shape the future of tech. Don’t let Liberal Arts die – embrace them, and see the value it adds to your team.

Ashley Hunsberger

Senior Staff Quality Assurance, Blackboard


  • STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
  • Consider the impact of tech on the past, present, and future of liberal arts education…

“We don’t all thin the same way. That’s good!

  • Intersection of people and technology solutions is key.
  • Grammar, logic, and rhetoric are part of liberal arts.
  • The art of thinking – seeing both sides of an argument is to understand.
  • The art of persuasion – speaking and writing to persuade.
  • Arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy
  • “Sciences of the spirit” – in German: die Geisteswissenschaften
  • Humanities offers us to deal with emergent behaviors. Dealing with the system instead of the technology itself.
  • It’s alarming about what is happening to the liberal arts.
    • A liberal arts of education is out of favor and everyone talks about skills based learning. The focus is on practical skills for the workplace. It’s important but only part of the equation.
    • Higher ed costs are creating concerns in education. A 4 year degree is approaching $200,000.
    • The costs are driving the question, should we be subsidizing this when we need more scientists and engineering students – this is where the jobs are.
    • Foundation should no be based on butts in seats.
    • Calls for limiting liberal arts funding > It is it really vital to have more anthropologists?
    • K12 cuts in art education continue.
    • Institutions are being urged to offer more practical vocational education as to fulfill the needs of society.
  • I call B.S. (and no, not a Bachelor of Science) 🙂
  • Cost of education is on the rise, and student debt is rising. These concerns are valid, but beliefs and myths/misconceptions that: 1) everyone goes into the field they studied, 2) liberal arts will not earn extra money, 3) skills they learn are not applied in the field outside of the field they studied. These myths are not true.

  • Liberal arts majors average $111,000 in salary and comparable overall computer to tech-majors.
  • Communication. Period. Is the most important skill.
  • Providing feedback with kindness even in disagreement.
  • Liberal arts skills in tech are important because of soft skills.
  • Liberal arts in tech: Adaptability. Peer mediation and active listening skills are key for meetings and working together. Diversity awareness, interactions in society, ability to fail without fear.

  • Empathy is important for end users in tech. How is the user going to feel? Abstract representations and how to think about the connections between things.
  • Sometimes the simple things are discarded. Some basic rules as kids are often not considered.
    • Read. Read. Read. (Not just in your field – challenge your assumptions to get different perspectives).
    • Reading is an important path to knowledge.
    • Read to your children everyday from childhood into adulthood.
    • Develop methods of interrogation and asking questions. I wonder how this is going to work, I wonder… What would it look like?
    • Who what where when and why? – Then How?
    • Add Else, ask what else?
    • Take time to ask the questions to check our thinking.
    • Practice mindful communication – Lara Hogan, President Kickstarter
    • Are we keeping in real? Reflect, elevate, assume, listen.
    • Tone, body language, seek out ways to be inclusive, ask what do you think during the meeting. Assume best intentions. Don’t assume, practice empathy, we all have tough days.
  • We need to widen the net of our hiring pools to increase diversity.
  • Create pathways for those with unique approaches – even for those in non-standard educational fields.
  • Provide time for learn both in professional development of staff and for yourself. Learn to get different perspectives. Learn knowledge but also apply it!
  • Liberal Arts and the Future of Tech
    • Analytics, Big Data and Human Interpretation (humans are needed to decide what to measure and how)
    • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (humans are needed to provide context)
  • Building Ethical Things – And exploring the unintended consequences
  • “If you are not asking how what your building could be used to hurt someone you’ve failed.” – Adapted from Mina Markham
  • How will your users “feel”.
  • We need liberal arts and the expanse of ideas.

The School of Athens

“…a visual representation of the role of love in elevating people toward upper knowledge…”

#EDU16 – Only Blackboard: Innovation to Drive Student Success through the LMS and Beyond


Session Description: Your institution’s needs are unique, and as the industry’s most experienced education technology provider, Blackboard provides innovative solutions that extend beyond our foundation in the LMS. In this session, hear about innovations across our flagship Learn product line as well as new advancements in the use of predictive analytics and mobile technologies designed to help your institution promote student success.

Outcomes: Leverage data from your LMS to improve student outcomes * Empower students to improve pathway planning * Use technology to scale academic advisory services


Brook Bock, Vice President of Mobile,Blackboard Inc.

Mike Sharkey, Vice President, Analytics,Blackboard Inc.


  • Need to Innovate in Higher Education
    • Education is evolving and students are experiencing a different
    • Students are increasingly non-traditional
    • The students’ journey is different from what has beenimg_1007
    • Students have a lot of educational opportunities
    • Students have high consumer expectations
    • At Blackboard we are taking a user-centered approach in designing our products.
    • Students, faculty, advisors, administration, recruiters and there needs to be a unified experience.
    • Consistent and integrated experience – a new Ultra interface is beyond the look and feel but it’s about a connected experience
  • Student Planning
    • There are 12.5 million with some colelge credits and no degree. – Harvard Business Review
    • The most popular major among incoming freshman is undecided
    • Students take an average of 134 credits when 120 are sufficient for a bachelors degree
    • 30% of non-returning students left because they couldn’t find the classes they needed at a time that would fit into their schedule.
    • Introducing Blackboard Planner
      • This empowers students with the information they need to chart the course of the path to graduation
      • One app for all planning and learning activities – Bb Planner is integrated into the Bb Student mobile app.advise_02
      • Students navigate through the Planner app to enter information about their interest and then discover careers based on interests.
      • Bb has integrated with Burning Glass to power the apps decision tree.
      • Partnered with Road Trip Nation – to give students an idea of what it is like to work in a specific career.
      • Reaching out to a campus advisor is also easy, right from the device.
      • Planner also provides their status as to their progress toward a degree and then there is a “what if” feature that allows students to discover a new degree or pathway based on what classes they have already taken.
      • At the institutional level the system can help advisors identify at-risk students.
      • Advisors can also connect through Collaborate to have a real-time session through mobile.
  • Predictive Analytics
    • Bb Predict is based on a solution created by Blue Canary.
    • Date is collected from SIS and LMS – and asking questions like will the student pass the class, will the student show up in class, and then putting this information in front of advisors, faculty, and students.predicthero_616x418_tcm21-40961
    • The goal is to take the raw data and distill that into of something of value – with the end goal: Student Success.
    • PROBLEM: What is the question you are trying to answer? This is the place to start when looking at data/analytics.
    • INGEST: Aggregate the data from multiple sources.
    • MODELING: Take and turn the data into valuable info (answer the question)
    • DISTRIBUTE: Put the valuable info into the hands of those who can act on it
  • Data Science
    • How can we use data to make things better. Blackboard’s data science team is to further the state of the art in research, share that research, and help to improve products for that institutions can become more effective.
    • Student activity in courses was reviewed by Blackboard from 70,000 courses from 927 institutions, with 3,374,462 unique learners that resulted in the following categories of “course types”:course-archetype-717x359
    • Bb Collaborate data is also used to evaluate student activity in the creation of an engagement score.

See Blackboard Blog Post: Patterns in Course Design: How instructors ACTUALLY use the LMS

#BbWorld16 – General Session: Innovating for the future: customer-centric solutions


Blackboard is thoughtfully innovating to solve your most pressing problems, and inspiring learners’ everywhere. Learn more about what Blackboard is doing for local organizations, and how your institution benefits.   And don’t miss Captain Mark Kelly deliver the closing keynote address, sharing his perspective on non-traditional learning and the use of analytics apply to education in space—and in everyday life.  This closing session will be full of inspirational moments and many exciting surprises. Sponsored by: IBM


  • Katie Blot, Senior Vice President, Global Strategy, Marketing and Business Line Management
  • Blackboard Charitable Giving Program – Reimagining education through charitable giving Blackboard is proud to reimagine education through charitable giving. Blackboard’s Charitable Giving Committee, established in 2014, is one of many ways in which Blackboard gives back to the broader community.
  • Blackboard Teacher of the Year
    • Congratulations to Carrie Romines Brookland Public Schools in Arkansas!

Captain Mark Kelly – Mark Kelly is an American astronaut, retired United States Navy Captain, #1 New York Times best-selling author, and an experienced naval aviator and test pilot who flew combat missions during the Gulf War.

  • The power of goals and plans and working hard.
  • I want to be the first person to walk on Mars – didn’t make it there, but I made it to space 4 times!
  • Plan to be naval aviator and then go into space.
  • Practice persistence and not giving up.
  • Life is about challenges and not giving up.
  • Winston Churchill – “There is nothing more exciting then getting shot at, but missed.”
  • Focusing on the stuff you can control and not worrying about the stuff outside of control.
  • Timely and accurate communication is everything.

None of us is as dumb as all of us. Sometimes a team of people can make a bad decision… NASA is all about group thinking, but sometimes a bad decision can be made. Opinions need to be heard by all members of a team.

  • Pay attention to the details, attempt to mitigate the risks.
  • Put great teams of people together.
  • Got a problem? We are going to figure this out together!
  • The human spirit is incredible to strive to overcome and to fight hard, yet to not take yourself so seriously.

Be bold be courageous and be your best!

#BbWorld16 – Higher Education Rocket Sessions for Faculty and Instructional Designers


Join educators and leaders from higher education for fast paced fun! Rocket sessions are designed to generate excitement, share ideas, and inspire. Each Rocket session will be made up of five to seven consecutive, concise and fast-paced presentations consisting of no more than 20 slides auto-timed for 20 seconds per slide. Rocket session topics: · I’m Real! You’re Real! Social Presence in Online Learning · Mobile Technology for Students and Faculty: Put those Smartphones to Good Use! · Blackboard Bakery: Creating a Custom Recipe for Individual Departments · Engaging Faculty in Quality Assurance for Online Learning


  • I’m Real! You’re Real! Social Presence in Online Learning
    • Realness in Distant Education
      • Emergent Construct
        • Instructor, learner, technology, experience driven, continues to evolve, realness is social
      • Your Style Connects You
        • Computer mediated, Creates expectations, facilitator, mentor, immediacy and intimacy, trusted
      • Quality Trumps Quantity
        • Announcements, Emails, Lesson, Podcasts, Videos, Animations
  • Mobile Technology for Students and Faculty: Put those Smartphones to Good Use
    • Mobile is ubiquitous
    • Intentional and specific use of mobile
    • Goal to increase engagement and time on task
    • Notetaking, calendar reminders, just in time content delivery, short video clip – communicate with faculty
    • Document with selfies and quick camera content shots
    • Polling
    • Mobile tools for self reflection
    • Focus on the final outcome and the experience first and then pick the technology solution
  • Blackboard Bakery: Creating a Custom Recipe for Individual Departments
    • Creating a sense of community through a “Learn” model
      • LISTEN to the needs and wants of the instructor
      • ENVISION how the needs and wants can be achieved. How does a course built on “YES” look?
      • ADJUST to what can be done now. Use custom recipes to create a sense of community – video, banners, custom personalization
      • REVISE the recipe make sure everything is working properly.
      • NEGOTIATE and go beyond what needs fixed and think back to what you first envisioned.
  • Engaging Faculty in Quality Assurance for Online Learning
    • Faculty Learning Communities
      • ePortolios, Best Practices for Faculty in Online Learning, Pedagogy and Tools for Teaching with Tablets and Online
      • FLC, Summer Institute, 250 faculty and 400 courses, approx 10,000 students
    • Boot Camp
      • Semester, designed for faculty new to online teaching, F2F and online experience, fully developed online module
    • QOLT Summer Institute (schedule) – eScholars group of faculty with at least 3 meetings with an ID, complete training, and go through a QOLT Quality Online Learning and Teaching instrument, receive a badge at the end:
      • Course Overview and Intro
      • Assessment and Evaluation of Student Learning
      • Instructional Materials and Resources
      • Student Interaction and Community
      • Facilitation and Instruction
      • Technology for Teaching and Learning
      • Learner Support and Resources
      • Accessibility and Universal Design
      • Course Summary and Wrap Up
      • Mobile Design Readiness


#BbWorld16 – The Key to 21st Century Leadership

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Based on Admiral Stavridis’ nearly four decades of military service, he advocates a unique model of “leader as servant.” He believes in the power of people and shares with audiences specific ways to unlock their strength through positive reinforcement and innovative incentive systems. In particular, he helps audiences leverage lessons learned from their own experiences, understand how to identify role models and gain insight into leadership strategies from other cultures—both the positives and negatives.

Speaker: Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret.) – NATO’s 16th Supreme Allied Commander Europe and 15th Commander of the US European Command (2009-2013)


  • His office was in the Pentagon and only a few offices a way from the 911 attack on the Pentagon.
  • Building of bridges create the most security for the future.
  • Islamic state is terrorism 3.0, they have a way of recruiting and marketing. They are able to raise funds. They have a taste for the barbaric. ISIS has a price list of purchasing females for sex slaves.
  • Islamic state also attacks education. Killing children. This is a highly dangerous group with global reach.
  • North Korea is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. With 15-20 nuclear weapons. Iran as well. Syria has killed 300,000 of it’s own citizens. Russia concerns with President Putin and the invasion of the Ukraine.
  • Heroin and drug concerns in our own state. Ebola and other pandemics.
  • Cyber security is the most worry for us. Online bank robbery, etc.
  • Political gridlock also leads to polarization.
  • Building walls isn’t going to help us deal with these kind of challenges?

19th Century Leaders – Otto von Bismarck, Iron Chancellor from Germany, Top Down, Heavy Handed, Colonization

20th Century Leaders – Roosevelt was the ability to create a political machine and use it to move power. Top down leadership.

21st Century – Messages and ideas move instantly. What does a leader look like? In today’s world we have untraditional leaders “celebrity”, Lady Gaga, Oprah, India Leader, Germany Leader, Bill Gates.

What are the tools in today’s world that can help us become leaders?

  • Education is the #1 tool.
  • Innovation is key. Ability to think about the new. People and soft skills are needed to build relationships and partnerships. There will be hits and misses, like baseball. Look for the black swan or striking change – be ready for the other side.
  • Communication. It goes both ways. The best image is a bridge not a megaphone. Good leaders are like jellyfish they are constantly sensing. The put pen to paper, then present, then align. Social media is a bridge and we need to be in this space.
  • Collaboration. An image of collaboration is typically 8 guys rowing no – real collaboration is about moving and creative and dynamic like a bike riding team that share of drafting for each other. Coalition, ability to move at speed, and rallying behind an objective.
  • Leaders need to look closely of everything that comes across your desk. What are we doing today that in 50 years that will look wrong in 50 years. Look for integrity and character and values. Character is what we do when we think no one is looking.
  • Ask yourself, who are my heros? Could you name 5-6 people that you admire?
  • Speed is a question, how fast do you want to move – but need to maintain stability.
  • Failure is part of leadership and it’s about how you respond and move beyond.
  • Hope for a better place, better life, and a better connection to our world.


“A leader is a dealer in hope not a dealer in fear.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

#BbWorld16 – Teaching and Learning Roadmap for Higher Education

We invite you to join our Product Management Leaders to hear about what’s coming to Blackboard Learn (including 9.1, SaaS, and the Ultra experience), Blackboard Collaborate, and our mobile apps to support teaching and learning in higher education.


  • 1 Product = Learn
  • 2 Experiences = Original and Ultra
  • 3 Deployment Methods = Self-hosted, Managed Hosted, SaaS

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  • Quality in the Original Experience
    • Hundreds of Bug Fixes
  • Updated Technology
    • Simplified Releases
    • Java 8 JDK
    • REST APIs
  • Mobile Support – Bb Student App
  • New Responsive Theme – Improves the Responsive Design, Improved Navigation, Improved Tool Use, Improved Management by Educators
  • Efficiency – Workflow improvements to save time and improve usability

Enhancements for the Original Experience
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  • Assignment Submission Receipts (in development) – This came from the community site as an idea submission.
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  • Workflow Improvements and Usability for Drag and Drop Content (in development)
  • Dropbox Integration (in development)
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  • Collaborate Integration Enhancements (available now)
  • Competency-based Education (in research) – Personal learning, improved program dashboard, enhanced course dashboard
  • Attendance Tracking (in research)
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  • Course Activity Overview Report (in development) – Filter by group, user session time, time in courses, users who didn’t log in
  • Improved Student Activity Reporting in Tests (in research for self hosted)
  • In Learn Ultra there are enhancements and new features such as group conversations, graded discussions, content development as items, added more question types in assessments.
    • Themes of focus in development: more question types, timed tests and test settings, SafeAssign integration, granular content copy and sharing materials across courses, advanced content availability (aka adaptive release), SCORM support, institution pages (portal), LTI 2.0, video built-in, language packs for locale and language selection
    • Sign up for a preview account at preview.blackboard.com – start playing!
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Collaborate Ultra
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  • Scalable, reliable foundation for world-class web conferencing.
  • Modern and intuitive interface.
  • Designed for education.
  • Support full inclusive learning.
  • Coming: persistent content, add chat in a recording as well as download, support attendance records, support for large events and webinars up to 250 and eventually to 1000, leverage grades in Bb learn to mark attendance in gradebook / configure points / post grades automatically or manually, instructor mobile experience in “Bb Instructor” app, sign language interpreter toolset, reports and learning analytics, authentication beyond Bb credentials, and more.
  • blackboard.com/collabtrial is available for a 30 day try out…

Persona Based Mobile Applications
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  • Bb Instructor (in development)
  • Bb Planner and Blackboard Advise (launch in 2016)
  • Bb Student
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