#BbWorld17 – General Session

Thursday’s general session starts off with the Catalyst Awards winner presentation followed by Blackboard’s charitable giving program. Then, Dr. Mae Jemison, former NASA astronaut, engineer, physician & education advocate takes the stage to deliver an inspirational keynote address.





Dr. Mae Jemison, former NASA Astronaut, Engineer, Physician and Education Advocate

  • Education is about providing the best opportunity to move forward for the future.
  • The future never just happened it was created.
  • Even the sharpest blade can’t cut it’s own handle. – Proverb
  • What does space have to do with me? You have a space receiver in your hand – mobile. MRIs. Weather Satellites, etc.
  • 100 Year Starship Canopus
  • In education, we need to prepare students for a future that stretches beyond what we can reliably predict.
  • We can’t give everyone all of the facts…

  • Purpose: expectations, skills, knowledge, facts, enduring
  • Majority of the benefits may take place and be measured after you no longer have any control over the student or situation; cannot provide sideline coaching, in fact you may no longer be alive as a teacher:  “Emphasis often on requirements for current jobs, but the majority of a students work life will be 40-50 years into the future.”
  • We need to train our students for a future that isn’t here yet.
  • There is always something to learn from experience. – Proverb
  • The importance of STEM right now, is about finding the best path forward. It’s at the center of all of our lives.
  • Science literacy is key to be informed and we can have a pipeline of people that go into science and a technology
  • Critical actions for promoting STEM: Exposure, Experience, and Expectation
  • Children have response of living up or down to our expectations.
  • Teaching STEM: hands on, hearts on, minds on!
  • When you work with something with your hands, you become engaged.
  • You get self-esteem from doing things!

  • It is the nature of the this flower to bloom. – Alice Walker
  • Every child is a flower it is their nature to bloom, our job as educators is to ensure they have the resources in place to bloom.
  • How do we make sure Capabilities exist for the work that is ahead of us. We believe an extraordinary future makes a better world today.
  • Our future needs to push us.

  • We get there by leaping further!
  • Do people stay in STEM fields in spite of or because of? Do we have enough engagement in our programming?
  • The student is NOT our customer they are OUR responsibility!

#BbWorld17 – Blackboard Learn Product Roadmap

Session Description: We invite you to join our product management leaders to hear about the short and long term plans for Blackboard Learn. This session will cover both the Original experience (aka Learn 9.1) and the Ultra experience. You will have the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of what’s new and what’s coming directly from the Learn product team.

Speaker: Jim Chalex, VP, Product Management, Blackboard


Vision for Learn

  • Modern, responsive, streamlined design
  • Powerful tools for engaging courses
  • Deeply accessible
  • Embedded insights
  • Seamless integrations

Blackboard Learn

  • 1 Blackboard Learn, 2 Experiences (Original and Ultra), 3 Deployment Options (Self-Hosted, Managed-Hosted, Saas)
  • Learn > Collaborate > Ally > Blackboard app and Blackboard Instructor app
  • Partnership with IBM has enhanced new services and robust cloud management


  • Saas deployment is growing!
  • 203 clients now using SaaS delivery, 68 additional migrations underway, and 52 pilots are being excecuted
  • Amazon aws competency award received

Continue to Invest and Innovate on the Original Experience

  • Regular cadence of releases (Q4 2016 and Q1 2017, culumlative updates)
  • Quality improvements (more development resources in order to fix more bugs)
  • Updated technologies (SQL server, Tomcat, BIRT reporting, ActiveMQ, JQuery, REST APIs)
  • New feature development (more responsiveness, Dropbox integration, drag-and-drop and more)
  • Content accessibility (ally is now available)

Continue to Deliver on Ultra



  • Blackboard is fully committed to delivering product experiences that conform to global accessibility standards.
  • Ally is available to assist institutions with a dashboard, faculty education, and realtime accessible versions for uploaded content.

Mobility Focus

  • Learn Original Responsive Design
  • Bb App (formerly Bb Student)
  • New Blackboard Instructor App

Learn Product Roadmap

  • Client / User Research
  • Ideas Submitted on the Bb Community Site
  • Usage Data Analytics
  • Client Programs (Tech Previews, Cohorts, etc.)

    In-line Grading Update

    • Support for New Box View API will be in the following releases: Q4 Q2 2017, Q4 Q2 2016

    Quality & Maintenance: Technology Support

    • Updates coming in LTI 2.0, SCORM Update, More REST APIs, Caliper, RHEL 7

    Workflow Improvements & Usability – Grade Center

    Discussions – Replies to Me

    Integrated Audio and Video (New Video Everywhere)

    Cloud Storage Integration

    • OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, etc.

    Attendance Tracking

    Learn Roadmap Summary


    #BbWorld17 – A ‘@fitbit’ for education?

    If we could design a ‘fitbit’ for education, what would it look like? Join a panel of leading researchers and instructional designers to discuss what we know about student-facing learning analytics including current research, instructional design challenges, and where our current rate of innovation will likely lead in the next 5 years.


    What evidence do we have that student-facing analytics work?

    “Learning theory is what we need with analytics – not just counting clicks.” – John Fritz

    • Dashboards provide a ladder for students on their way to success and ultimately graduation.
    • Data democratization provides actionable information to the needs at the time of needs.

    • A focus on training preparing faculty and other professionals is important to help students use analytics effectively.

    #BbWorld17 – Blackboard Collaborate Roadmap

    Session Description: We invite you to join our product management leaders to hear about our short and long term product plans for Blackboard Collaborate.  A question-and-answer portion will provide attendees with the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the roadmap directly from the experts at Blackboard.

    Speaker: David Hastie 


    Vision for Teaching and Learning

    • Embedded Insights and Analytics
    • Deeply Integrated Workflows
    • Accessibility
    • Openness
    • Strategic Services

    Vision for Collaborate

    • Deeply Integrated Workflows
    • Modern, Responsive, Streamlined Design
    • Powerful T&L Tools for Engaging Sessions
    • Fully Accessible
    • Embedded Insights

    Benefits of Using Collaborate:

    Continue to Invest and Innovate on Blackboard Collaborate

    • Regular cadence of releases (monthly releases over the past 2 years)
    • Quality improvements (delivered functionality to improve the service: dynamic bandwidth adjustment)
    • Integrated workflows (LTI integrations)
    • New feature (private chat, session to 500, live feedback, and more)
    • Accessibility (uploaded content can also be accessed by a screen reader – only tool in market to do this)

    Your Voice, Driving our Roadmap

    • Cohort Programs
    • Customer Roadmap Surveys
    • Tech Preview (more than 60 institutions have joined)
    • Community Site

    2017 Roadmap Summary

    •  Host larger classes, lectures, and webinars – in development now, working toward 1,000 participants
    • 1:1 private chat is available now
    • Dynamic bandwidth adjustment is in place now
    • Live captioning is a service coming later this year via Aberdeen 
    • Telephone-only dial in in development now
    • Net stats panel is in development to provide more information for the participant and the room (how is the connection for participants)
    • Timer is in development to provide a countdown timer for when teh session will start (and a benefit for breakout groups)
    • Deeper integration with learn is in development (produce a dedicate room for each group, attendance tracked for post session, configure present/absent ark based on percent in session, post marks automatically or manually, provide links to individual sessions and recordings in content areas.


    • Student engagement and analytics in research now (2018 target)

    Collaborate recording post-captioning in research now (automation via IBM Watson)

    Have an idea, join the Collaborate community to collaborate!

    #BbWorld17 – General Session: How to Partner for Success

    Join us in the general session theater as two panels take the stage. You’ll first hear from clients about how they are overcoming challenges around student access and student success. This will be followed by a panel discussion on the intersection between technology, education and policy as we work to understand what the future holds.


    • Technology is not an ‘add on’ it’s integral and embedded in the solution from the very beginning.
    • Being proactive around accessibility and mobile-first. All videos have captions and share best practices with faculty for universal design.
    •  The Art and Science of Memory: 5 Keys to Learning
    • GU 360 – centralize programs at Georgetown University. Faulty, Student, Staff, and Advancement across all campuses. Enrollment and student success begins in the beginning.  “GU360 is a Georgetown-branded, scalable technology interface that will add greater flexibility to the way Georgetown Faculty, Staff, Students, and Alumni, communicate and interact with one another on a daily basis.”

    Promoting a sense of social community though the digital space contributes to meeting student needs.

    • Students can blend the online and classroom – a fluid approach. Yet we still need to build digital communities across both. “Online Happy Hours” and students can meet virtually.
    • Provide online orientations and online advising and online tutoring to meet students flexibility needs for the work and life. Many ways for students to connect with the institution.
    • Data democratization at Coppin State University. Every single staff member at Coppin has the same data dashboard as the president via a dashboard. This is updated daily at 11am. Inclusive data for all. Break down the data silos. Shared resources and a common language. 
    • Common syllabi provides an element of standardization and share resources across courses.
    • Cobadge and coteach across institutions, is this possible?

    • TechKNOW Squad at Coppin is a group of students that are focused on finding what the University is doing around technology and then they share with the rest of campus via social media. “Request the TechKNOW Squad to visit your classroom and discuss campus technologies with your students. The 20-minute presentation features a variety of topics including… Bb, Tegrity, etc.”

    • Most pressing issues: high quality education, access and affordability, reaching populations of learners that don’t have highered in their communities. 
    • How do we ensure quality?
    • Challenges of support for distance education. 
    • Do we have too much emphasis on the bachelor degree? 
    • In what ways is technology a potential solution for our education needs?
    • Technology needs to be based on the learners attitude and aptitude. If students don’t have these they will struggle. Students need to be evaluated and oriented and prepared to use technology for learning.
    • It’s not about the technology it’s about student learning. Can we use it though to acquire skills and knowledge and to engage them. 
    • Technology can elevate the teaching profession also. Professional learning for faculty members is key.
    • Technologies that provide personalization will help us further down the road. 
    • Technology is not about a cheaper way to get students through.
    • Education needs to be flexible in meeting students needs through the changing demographics.
    • SBIR Grant programs are available (often underutilized) to help with research and spur innovation via the Higher Ed Innovation, Department of Education.
    • A focus on outcomes is key. There is a lot of challenges with the credit hour and seat time and this can create limits vs focused on the outcomes is important.
    • State Authorization can be a challenge too – this has required states to put in extra time and effort to offer education across the states, causing delays in innovative online program development.

    “It’s not ok for students to have a shotty education experience and it’s up to us as highered professionals to change that.”

    – Leah k. Matthews, Ph.D., Executive Director Distance Education Accrediting Commission

      #BbWorld17 – Blackboard Opening Keynote

      Session Description: Join us as we kick off BbWorld 2017 with Bill Ballhaus, Blackboard CEO and Katie Blot, Blackboard Chief Strategy Officer. Then, hear from lifelong education advocate, and former Second Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden.


      Bill Ballhaus @billballhaus

      • 4,000 on BbWorldLIVE
      • 36 countries represented
      • Happy 20th anniversary for Blackboard!

      • 66 institutions have been a partner for over 20 years, than you
      • It all began… 1997 – the Palm Pilot was popular, broadband was making it’s way, 1/3 of college courses used email, 1/4 classes used internet and 1/8 used multimedia
      • Now… 73% use an LMS, 35% faculty use primarily digital materials, 95% of colleges agree that digital curricular resources make learning more efficient and effective.

      “Blackboard is your partner in change.”

      • The journey starts with educational institutions and students.

      Driving learning outcomes

      • Invest in original experience, improve UI, responsiveness for devices, and quality enhancements
      • Learn Ultra is expanding and growing
      • Learn Saas more than 200 have made the migration
      • Listening to YOU – from Bb Community with over 5,000 members
      • Blackboard is now in over 90 countries

      Supporting the learner

      • Engage students and communicate with parents in K12
      • Balancing work, school, and family life, students are on th go – delivering a seamless mobile experience (when and where it’s most convenient to for them)
      • Leveraging data and analtyics support students, manage financiers, make purchases, controlled access

      Attracting and enrolling the right students

      • Marketing, recruitment and enrollment services is tailored by data and analytics

      Keys to Success

      • A compelling, broad portfolio of process and services
      • The best experience for your students, faculty, and advisors
      • Work within your ecosystem

      Katie Blot, Chief Strategy Officer, @kcblot

      Driving Learning Outcomes

      • Heart of what you do, with the center the LMS
      • Welcome, Moodle Community


      • 1 Learn, 2 Experiences (Original, Ultra), and 3 Deployments (Self-hosted, Managed Hosted, Saas)
      • Blackboard is the ONLY partner giving you the flexibility and choice for what is best for you and your institution.
      • 200 institutions are already on Saas
      • Original experiece focus: quality, responsiveness, and ease of use
      • Ultra experience: a new design philosophy across all products for a seamless experience
      • Over 1,200 clients on Collaborate Ultra

      Collaborate Ultra – Continuous Delivery Enhancements

      • 1.1 million users of Blackboard mobile app
      • Keep the focus on the learning instead of the technology

      Q3 2016

      • Rubrics, Tests: MC/MS questions, test/activity report, gradebook custom categories, links in rich text editor, due date accommodations

      Q4 2016

      • Group discussions, Bb Collaborate integration,, goal alignments, smiplified grading workflow, multiple assignments/test attempts, media in test questions

      Q1 2017

      • Tests (T/F questions, timed), unlimited assignment/test attempts, grade categories, 3rd party tool placements in navigation tools panel, discussions additional thread depth, read/unread, localization

      Q2 2017

      • Tests: randomize questions, media in rich text editor, discussion insights, LTI links open within Ultra course window, LTI 2.0, Blackboard Open Content in the Content Market, Time zone visibility, numerous performance enhancements

      FOCUS: It’s about driving better learning outcomes with thoughtful design. Don’t need to choose between simplicity and power. 

      Data everywhere – really powerful for helping someone making a better decisions, getting the data isn’t enough > it needs to be able to be used, surfacing data within the appropriate context. Garner insights from data to drive learning outcomes.

      Expanding Capabilities

      • My Grades Predictor for Students with comparison to other student activity in the class
      • Quiz Activity with student activity details

      Jim Chalex and John Whitmer

      • Discussion Insights > Automated discussion grading via data science? Out in Ultra in the next few months.

      No Boundaries

      Blackboard Ally

      • Machine learning algorithms for providing accessible alternatives. “Auto-Magic”
      • Alternative Accessible Versions – Automatically checks for for accessibility issues and generates alteranative accessible formats.
      • Instructor Feedback – Guides instructors on how to improve the accessibility of their course content and alters future behavior
      • Institutional Report -Provides detailed data and insights to help further improve course content accessibility at the institution

      Introducing Blackboard Instructor

      • Current features: access content, communicate with students, collaborate with students
      • Next up: tablet optimized grading, complex grading

      Openness Commitment

      • Introductions… Openness Innovation Initiative – free development access to system liences for testing.

      Supporting the learner along their journey.

      Blackboard’s student success strategy

      • Engage – Engage students daily to inform and simplify the most critical activities across their educational journey.
      • Insight – Sufrace meaningful insights – derived from academic, financial, student sentiment data – to the people who can drive the greatest impact.
      • Action – Effect behavioral change through proactive, modern, scalable communication between students, instructors, and advisors.

      Advisor Dashboard

      • Bb Predict – Provides student risk summary. Consolidated view of career, financial, and course work.

      #BbWorld17 – DevCon: Managed Hosting, Does it work? Will I get access to my data?

      Session Description:  University of Illinois at Chicago adopted the managed hosting environment in 2012 and has been successful in important user support improvements and stability of operations. While employing GAs and undergraduate students in the support structure the resolution time for Blackboard tickets was reduced from two weeks to a few hours. Deep integrations have been created for event driven user synchronization. A number of OSCELOT projects are being sponsored and developed in a staging managed hosted system. The experience and collaboration with managed hosted team allowed for strong support of Blackboard Learn adoption on campus. The panel will include representative from Grand Valley State University, where initial deployment to Managed Hosting was later reversed to again become self-hosted.


      • Szymon Machajewski, University of Illinois at Chicago, Grand Valley State University
      • Eric Kunnen, Grand Valley State University

      Session Slides: