GVSU Professors Receive Blackboard Exemplary Course Awards at #BbWorld14

GVSU Exemplary Course Award

Maurice Heiblum (Senior Vice President, Higher Education, Corporate And Government Markets), Katie Blot (Senior Vice President, Education Services), Mark Belles (Senior Vice President, K-12), Eric Kunnen (Emerging Technologies Coordinator, GVSU), Jay Bhatt (President and CEO Mark Strassman, Senior Vice President, Industry And Product Management)

Congratulations to GVSU professors Szymon Machajewski and Julia VanderMolen for being awarded the 2014 Blackboard Exemplary Course Award.  Along with 67 other winners from 43 institutions from around the world, professors Machajewski and VanderMolen were highlighted in a special recognition luncheon at the BbWorld conference in Las Vegas, NV.

I was honored to receive the catalyst award on behalf of GVSU and Professor Szymon Machajewski.

GVSU Awards at BbWorld14 Luncheon

Closing Keynote: Geoffrey Canada #BbWorld14

Closing Keynote: Geoffrey Canada

canadakeynoteSpeaker(s): Geoffrey Canada

In his 20-plus years with Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc., Geoffrey Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform. Since 1990, Canada has been the President and Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), which The New York Times Magazine called “one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time.” In October 2005, Canada was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by US News and World Report.


  • “If we don’t do something different we will preside over a decline and demise of the nation.”
  • In Harlem, no one was going to college – how did we allow this to happen?
  • Detroit was worse the Harlem, Camden was worse, Flint was worse…
  • As a nation we have developed the most toxic situation through allowing a huge number of kids to not get an education.
  • You cannot get a job without an education today.
  • We lock up all the guys when they break the law.  We incarcerate more people per capita than any other country. We have created an industry around incarceration that is rivaling our education infrastructure.
  • You can’t educate poor kids, yes you can.  Poverty makes it difficult but they can absolutely be educated.
  • What have we done with our treasure in this country?
  • $30,000 a year is the average cost to incarcerate and in New York it is $157,000 – what are we getting? Nothing and no one thinks that is a crisis.
  • How come in our country we haven’t done the modest investment to save our kids at $5,000 per child?  What do we get for this investment?  Kids that can work, provide for their families, be productive, etc.
  • Global Warming is a focus and until it effects us we don’t give attention to it.  So we have an education problem, when are we giving attention to it.
  • 75% of American children can’t qualify for military service.  30% won’t graduate high school and you can’t go into service.  10% have a felony.  30% disabilities.  27% of children are so obese that they can’t qualify.  This wasn’t the case 20 years ago.  WHO let’s this happen?  WE did.  This is a national disaster because we can’t field a military program.
  • College grad rates in middle class. We need to wake up.  People think ed reform is an issue for the inner cities, it’s not.  Today in the white community unwed births are higher than the 60’s in the black community.  In America today our education crisis is more than just black and latino.
  • People get mad when you change something in education.  If you are a teacher and you cannot teach you should find another job.  This isn’t controversial.  I’m not beating up on teachers.   If you are a barber and can’t cut hair, get another job.
  • Education calls for talented people skilled in their job.
  • If we can’t get rid of poor teachers let’s send them to the upper class communities.
  • I believe you can look at data and evaluate and see if someone is doing a good job or not.
  • If you don’t know that the right answer is… do what rich people do!  The goal for their children is to go to college and expect them to go.

If you are a teacher you should have the same expectations for your classroom as you do for your children.

Creating a Master Online Course and Blackboard Learn Presence #BbWorld14

Creating a Master Online Course and Blackboard Learn Presence

mastercoursesessionSpeaker(s): Lisa Capan, Monica Hill

Due to popular demand, this session is being run a third time. In an effort to improve the use and familiarization with Blackboard Learn™, The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) has adopted a new requirement for all faculty to create a Blackboard Learn™ Presence in the classroom (Online, Blended and Face-to-Face). In addition to this initiative, CCBC is also piloting a new initiative, the Distance Education Course Summit (DECS), in an effort to help ensure all online and blended courses are developed according to the Quality Matters (QM) rubric. The ultimate goal of DECS is to have all CCBC online courses achieve QM certification and become the Master Online Course in Blackboard Learn™. During the DECS, faculty have the opportunity to collaborate with experts in instructional design and media, subject matter experts, and the CCBC Library to ensure faculty have the resources necessary to develop courses that achieve high quality online course design and content.
  • Master Online Course Initiative
    • Each online course will have 1 master course.
    • Create consistency
    • Better course management
    • Help meet student expectations
    • Driver for master course initiative was for accreditation and the recommendations were: increase student success rates, must show initiatives and progressive efforts made by 2017.
    • Quality Assurance
      • Alignment of objectives with online course components
      • Consistency between course sections and multiple sections
      • Enhanced instructor effectiveness and time (spend less time creating content vs spending time connecting with students)
      • Ability to have more courses achieve Quality Matters certifications
    • Efficient online course management using Bb Learn Content Management
      • Shorter prep time for faculty
      • Opportunity to offer more sections
      • Comfort of assigning adjuncts with consistent quality courses
      • Ability to edit and fix issues with content in one time/one place
    • Quality Matters
      • The master online course will be QM certified assuring:
        • Consistency in QM standards in every courses of the same course number
        • Common menu template and navigation, continuity of design, layout, and expectations for students (via approval from academic senate)
        • Adherence to standards for course and program objectives
    • Team Building
      • Team-built course, providing the best practices from multiple faculty who have experience teaching the course online
      • Provides the students the most engaged and enriched learning experience while attaining consistent learning outcomes
      • Faculty, instructional designers, librarians, instructional technologists, instructional media developer, DE coordinator (one for each school)
      • Content belongs to the college
    • Benefits and Flexibility
      • Course objectives can be met in a variety of ways…
      • The master online course can be developed to provide different themes or activities for  faculty to choose from, all while meeting the course objectives, providing flexibility for faculty via modules
      • Master course template is pre-copied into the courses for faculty
    • Efficiency
      • Once the template is developed, provides faculty more time to then concentrate and focus on facilitation of the course an engaging students online via Bb Collaborate
    • Distance Education Course Summit (DECS)
      • DECS is a 1 day “think tank” session (4-6 hours) to help ensure all online and blended courses are developed according to QM rubric
      • Goal: All CCBC online courses achieve QM certification
      • DECS differs from QM process in the DECS occurs at the beginning of the course development process
      • QM concentrates on the quality of navigation and structure of the coruse
      • DECS concentrates solely on the quality of the content and learning objects for the online course
  • Blackboard Learn Presence
    • All courses have a presence on Bb and there is a CCBC requirement for all faculty to create a presence in F2F classes
    • Increase awareness of Bb and how it can be use to supplement/support F2F instruction
    • Increase student engagement
    • Support conservation efforts and no more snow days! 🙂
    • Prepare students that will eventually take an online courses
    • Student benefits: 24/7 access to course documents, communicate with classmates and instructor via DB and chats, send secure messages to instructor, become familiar with Bb before taking an online class
    • Faculty benefits: Upload all course documents, no need for extra copies, communicate with students via chat, send secure messages to students, flip the classroom, extend discussion and other classroom activities, secure submission of assignments
    • All faculty at CCBC are required by Spring 2014 to have a Bb presence, and all adjunct by Fall 2014
    • Requirements of Bb use: instructor info, syllabus, midterm progress and final grades posted
    • Training includes: face to face (Bb Learn Presence Training, Bb Learn Intro Training), online (CCBC designed and Bb on demand), and support (job aids, online learning admin, Bb admin, 24/7 help desk)
    • Lessons Learned
      • Initial resistance
      • Eagerness for more training on uses of Bb Learn in F2F classes
      • More flexibility needed in F2F training availability
      • “Quick and Dirty” version of online training developed
      • Communication, Communication, Communication!
    • Next Steps
      • Rollout to adjuncts (communication, DE coordinators, CCBC sharepoint daily posts, Bb announcements on landing page, all hands on deck on professional development days
      • Aggressive “no more snow days” initiative
      • Collect data on efficacy of Bb Learn Presence and impact on student retention and success in preparation for 2017 Middle States revisit
    • Anticipated Outcomes
      • Continuity of instruction (no more snow days)
      • Greater use of Bb Learn in F2F classrooms
      • Eliminate the use of 3rd party software vendors that do what Bb can do (places a support issue if students and faculty use non-supported projects)
      • Convenience and flexibility for students & faculty
      • Increased student engagement
      • Greater integration of technology in F2F curriculum
      • Less paper
      • More security of assignment and communications

From LMS to Learning Environment: Blackboard’s Roadmap for Learning Solutions #BbWorld14

From LMS to Learning Environment: Blackboard’s Roadmap for Learning Solutions

bbroadmapSpeaker(s): Brad Koch, David Hastie

The LMS is moving quickly beyond its traditional acronym. Beyond simple grade books, management tools and discussion boards and into a comprehensive learning environment that fully meets the expectations of today’s students. It is for this reason that we’re not just thinking about today’s LMS – we’re powering a learning environment that can support online expansion years down the road. This roadmap session will show you how we: • Are putting the student first, enabling them to access and interact with the learning environment anywhere, anytime and on any device. • Focusing on simplicity by redesigning tools and streamlining critical workflows for instructors. • Support competency-based learning models, enabling you to measure student achievement against learning objectives and personalize the student experience based on their performance. 
  • Blackboard has a vision is a world inspired to learn and mission to reimagine education.
    • [Reimagine] Challenge conventional thinking and advancing new models of learning.
    • [Redesign] Shifting from point products to integrated solutions.
    • [Refine] Evolving beyond the lms to create a holistic learning and teaching environment.
  • When logging into the new system you are presented with recent activity (with right side pullout for activities clicked on), and up one level is the MyEDU profile area.
  • Courses area provides a historical view of classes.
  • Grades are displayed at a glance across all courses.
  • When entering courses, alerts and announcements are placed up front via overlay.  Course search is included!
  • The new UI provides full screen browsing experience.  Grades are also displayed inline.
  • Course specific navigation has outline, calendar, grades, messages, discussion.
  • Instructors also brought to recent activity for grading, discussion, etc. activities from students. Discussions are handled inline or jump to full context.
  • The new UI has native responsive design for display on any device with any resolution.
  • Messages are now unified and there is only 1 tool to do it all and across all courses.
  • You can copy and also import into courses.
  • The system has a new UI, but the same business logic.
  • Applause for java free collaborate (“Project Apollo”) and webrtc!!!

Growing Enrollments: Implementing Online Programs with Learners in Mind #BbWorld14

Growing Enrollments: Implementing Online Programs with Learners in Mind


Speaker(s): Leslie Buckalew

This session will focus on helping educational administrators grow enrollments using Online Programs that improve student retention and timely completion of degrees. Proven pedagogy that focuses on learner needs will be reviewed. Use of Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Collaborate will be highlighted.Online enrollments have shown a 20% annual increase since 2010 and more than ever Colleges know that effectively implementing Online programs is critical to our long term success. This session will review proper planning and resources needed to run a successful Online Program and grow enrollments while achieving student success and course completion.Finally, we will discuss program evaluation in the context of the larger campus strategic plan and enrollment management strategies.
  • Online Education Initiative – Columbia is a member of… “The mission of the California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative (OEI) is to dramatically increase the number of California Community Colleges (CCC) students who obtain college associate degrees and transfer to four-year colleges each year by providing online courses and services within a statewide CCC Online Education Ecosystem (OEE).”
  • gocolumbia.edu
  • New online learners value collaborative and self directed learning.  Online learners are trending to be younger.
  • Title III Grant was awarded $2 million for 5 years to expand distance learning.  Columbia is currently in the 6th year.  Initially they offered 1,000 stipend for online and 600 for hybrid.  They equip faculty to teach online by offering a flexible, collaborative, and accountable 30 hour training program utilizing cohorts in an online and F2F learning community setting:
    • Teaching and Learning Communities
    • Blackboard Training
    • Collaborative Development
    • Tech Training and Workshops
    • Peer Mentors
    • Incentives and Software
  • Best Practices by Chickering and Gameson 7 Principles of Undergraduate Education were used.
  • Start Here Modules
  • Universal Design
  • Safety Nets via Practice Assignments
  • Need to Knows
  • Faculty are equipped to provide: embedded video clips, async/sync tools, rubrics, community building activities.
  • All faculty have a welcome video and tour for each course.
  • Virtual conferencing tools for office hours, lectures, counseling, and meetings.  CCCConfer is used for synchronous technology via Bb Collaborate.
  • Student success factors: 1) Blackboard Help Desk, 2) Instructional Tech Center, 3) F2F and Virtual Orientations, 4) Video Tours of Online Courses, 5) Embedded Instructional Videos, 6) Online Student Resources, 7) Bb Quick Guide, 8) Email Blasts, and 9) Faculty Directory Pages
  • Key Takeaways: Student Confidence via Faculty Training, 21st Century Skills, Strong Online Community, Higher Retention Rates, Student Satisfaction, and Educational Opportunities

Michigan Blackboard Users Group Meeting – #BbWorld14

mibug-logoBlackboarders from across Michigan joined online and in person in Las Vegas to connect and share best practices.

Over 23 total attendees with several remote users from GRCC, Washtenaw, MCC, Northwood, LTU and in person Bb’ers from Ivy Tech, Ferris State, MVU, GVSU, Wayne State University, Muskegon Community College, WCC, GRCC, Schoolcraft, and Central Michigan.


  1. Introductions – See above for the colleges and universities attending.
  2. miBUG Housekeeping – Discussion around 2 conferences… the decision is to have 1 meeting in the Spring due to the investment of time.  We need an institution to host a conference for 2015.  Is there interest in a meeting schedule for Fall and Winter.  We could do an open office hour format, 1 time a month.
  3. Updates from BbWorld – BUGLUG meeting updates were brief at the conference.  Lots of discussion around exciting product innovation coming from Bb. My EDU will bring some new features and focus on students.  Lots of student focus in the keynote with over 100 students invited by Blackboard to attend the conference.  There seems to be an interest in developer conference and a missing this conference and focus. 
  4. Sharing Ideas Discussions about:
    1. Analytics
    2. End of Course Survey Tools
    3. Student Orientations


Blackboard Corporate Keynote #BbWorld14

Blackboard Corporate Keynote: Jay Bhatt

Speaker(s): Blackboard Executive & Leadership Team

Jay Bhatt, CEO, will share his perspective on the new era of education in a learner-centric world and how Blackboard is helping address these changes by challenging conventional thinking and advancing new learning models. He will also share some exciting sneak-peeks into our product and solutions innovation agenda and how we are reimagining the education experience.
  • Your going to see some cool things happening now and coming soon!
  • Education 2020 Vision – Global, Learner Centric, Non-Traditional, Big Data, Consumer Preferences, Alternative Models, Online and Mobile Everywhere
  • The education system is not reacting fast enough around outcomes and driving innovation.
  • 75 million people have no jobs yet 57% can’t find employees with appropriate skills.
  • Put learner at center of the process to create a different future.  Drive change through focusing on learners.
  • Creating a better educational system of all kids.
  • Attracting, Retaining, and Educating Students
  • Blackboard mission: To fundamentally reimagine education.
  • Students are getting engaged into the process via usability, product design, user experience.  Over 100 learners have been invited to attend this year!
  • Reimagine | Redesign | Redefine
  • Integrate, Accelerate, Innovate was last year themes by redesign as a focus.
  • Over 25 product updates to meet country requirements for a truly global responsiveness such as truly anonymous and delegated grading.
  • TipTxt integrated
  • Powerschool integrated
  • NFC for cards
  • Bb Labs and Polls
  • MyEdu acquired to help student collect competencies.
  • Redesigned solutions, support / services, and industry citizenship
  • Full solutions for highered and k12 rather than bundling. Learning Core = learn, content, xplor, community, mobile.  Learning Essentials adds in synchronous. Learning Insight adds in analytics4learn, and the full suite is Learning Insight and Retention includes Bb Analytics.
  • K12 Solutions include common core, innovative, classroom, parent engagement.
  • Customer Support has been integrated and the private cloud.
  • Services solutions provide technology implementation, faculty adoption, grow online programs while also attracting students, retention, and measuring outcomes.
  • Blackboard has acquired Perceptis that provides support for end users.
  • Industry Citizenship – New models of learning with American Council on Education to do joint research on competency based learning.  Also, Bb is a founding member of mozilla badges built in for showcasing accomplishments.  Finally supporting research and studies with partnering through Project Tomorrow and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
  • Showcasing clients: SouthWest College in Northern Ireland which launched a Zambie Africa. 
  • Blackboard’s focus on the learner is in part to move beyond the LMS to assist in redefining the teaching and learning environment.
  • Redefine user experience via UI and features, mobile first, expanded cloud strategy, and big data – focus on the learner.
  • My Edu offers competencies, portfolio tools, for the building of a student profile.
  • New profiles, integrated SafeAssign, and an entirely new user experience focusing on the needs of learners based on student research.  Streamlined navigation, easy access to items, integration of products.
  • Learner centric the most exciting time at Blackboard.  Solutions are created directly for learners and exciting new experiences for users that support the learning process.
  • Responsive design and UI for supporting all devices.
  • Grading is about providing timely feedback and rich responses that enhance engagement and conversation.
  • New streamline UI is very clean.
  • New realtime chat with webtrc!!! 
  • Blackboard Collaborate Mobile
  • BbGrader looks like a great offline grading tool!
  • Bb K12 Central is a mobile school app for parents.
  • Blackboard Job Genie provides find career paths and schools – to connect the ambiguous dots.
  • New Bb Mobile experience.
  • Deployment options: Self-hosted, private cloud managed hosting, and now… Learn in the Cloud for elastic, resilient, current.  Only company to do so.
  • Open Education for MOOCs is available today.  Free access for Bb clients.
  • Analytics, analysis, and insight throughout the educational experience via the IMS Caliper standard.
  • New student alerts for students with a section activity reminder and how they stack up against their peers – also with learning indicators for faculty.  The instructor can then also directly message the student.

Awesomeness coming soon to a Blackboard near you!


#BbWorld14 Opening Keynote

joiitoOpening Keynote: Joi Ito, MIT Media Lab Director

Speaker(s): Joi Ito

Joi Ito will be kicking off BbWorld 2014. Using his exceptional practical experience and unmatched bird’s eye view of technology, Joi will provide his perspective on what new technologies are just over the horizon and how that they will affect the way education is delivered and received. Special Thanks to Keynote Session Sponsor: Ginkgotree
“Learning Over Education”
Learning is what you do for yourself and education is what the institution does.
  • We are in a different way today…
  • Emerging technologies and the Internet empowers learning.
  • BI = Before internet
  • AI = After Internet
  • The Internet is not a technology, it’s a philosophy.
  • The Internet has pushed innovation to the edges… for the users of the web to build their own and rally together experts around a common mission.
  • SafeCast is a non-profit that was established after the earthquake in Japan.  This application is focused on gathering data points and they have something like 2.5+million data points through transparency. 
  • Just in time development allows rapid response.
  • Manufacturing can be “done in a box” via 3D printing.
  • Technology is providing amazing opportunities for all sorts of innovation, even in biology, for example “Genetic Circuitry”.  It’s not if you will do biology, but when you will do it!  It’s about technology infused across the curriculum – interdisciplinary should be the focus.
  • We tend to try to be execution oriented and predictable and less about being creative.  Don’t we need people to be creative and different?
  • You learn a lot when you teach.
  • Creative Learning involves: Projects, Peers, Passion, Play
  • MaKey, Makey is an example of creative play.
  • Connected Learning – Involves the intersection of interests, peers, and opportunities and @Blackboard can help take us there.
  • Maybe we need to be “antidisciplinary” – the space between the disciplines is bigger!
  • We need: engineers, scientists, designers, and artists all in 1 person for the future.
  • The Principles = Resilience over strength, systems over objects, disobedience over compliance, pull over push, compasses over maps, emergence over authority, risk over safety, practice over theory, and learning over education.
  • If you are always pushing you may be organized but your never going to get lucky!  If you always do the same thing you will always get the same thing embrace serendipity and find the disruptive idea!

“The cost of talking about trying something exceeds the cost of actually trying it.” – Joi Ito