#BbWorld18 – DEVCON18 Opening Keynote

Blackbord’s Chief Product Officer Tim Tomlinson kicks off DevCon 2018 with a look at the past year and highlights to look forward to in the coming year. This is a must-see for all attendees!

  • 380 attendees, 250 institutions, 24 countries at the BbWorld Developers Conference
  • Amazon AWS Sponsor
  • DevCon Kickoff and Product Update
  • @timtomlinson
  • An uptick this year in first time attendees, welcome!
  • #IAmBlackboard – Last year 20th anniversary of the founding of Blackboard. We celebrate and thank you from the Blackboard team. Bb is an #edtech company, and there is a personal connection to mission to helping institutions drive success through access to education. The story about Blackboard is about the educational opportunities provided through education.
  • Blackboard has provided a diversity and inclusion scholarship for 2 attendees this year.

  • One of the benefits of partnering with Bb is this team of smart, engaged, dedicated people on mission to support education.
  • Blackboard Product Development Pillars

  • Crocodoc to Box migration didn’t go as well as planned and Bb is committed to direct enhancements in the Box platform such as working now to include the ability to download submissions/feedback.
  • Saas Deployment – Now live with 6 areas across the globe. SaaS momentum is strong.

  • 20% of client base on Saas.
  • Blackboard is providing more services also on Saas. SafeAssign is a recent addition to Saas.

  • New Learn Ultra feature highlights… continuing to make Ultra feature complete. If you have not looked at Ultra recently (within 3 months) it’s time to look again. It is a much more fully feature product that it once was, pace has really ramped up.
  • 61 clients on Ultra in production, 34 in pilots, and over 300 clients going through cohort sessions toward adoption.
  • Educator Preview is now CourseSites and access to experiment and play.

  • Great positive feedback on Learn Ultra.
  • 1 Learn, 2 Experiences (original, ultra), 3 Deployments (self-hosted, managed hosted, SaaS)
  • Be looking at SaaS and Learn Ultra as an end date. We want to walk with you through the journey at your pace.
  • Blackboard Ally is very exciting and adoption has been strong.

  • Ally improves accessibility as well as coach faculty along the way with an institutional dashboard for tracking and monitoring.
  • 187 million documents scanned with 1.9 million student impact.
  • Ally is available on Bb Learn, Moodleroooms, Moodle, Canvas
  • Blackboard Instructor App now includes grading! Enables instructors to manage your courses, send announcements, and connect with students. Time was taken to make sure use cases and workflows for grading where in line with needs.

  • REST API progress is expanding and maturing greatly.

  • IMS Standards Support is key for Blackboard and an initiative that provides engagement in the standards community.
  • Blackboard has been recognized as an award winner in many areas, including CODiE and the Blackboard student mobile app with a 4.5 star rating.

#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

FullSizeRender (99).jpg

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

FullSizeRender (89)

  • 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
FullSizeRender (93)

  • Assignment Submission Receipts (in development) – This came from the community site as an idea submission.
    FullSizeRender (92).jpg
  • Workflow Improvements and Usability for Drag and Drop Content (in development)
  • Dropbox Integration (in development)
    FullSizeRender (90).jpg
  • Collaborate Integration Enhancements (available now)
  • Competency-based Education (in research) – Personal learning, improved program dashboard, enhanced course dashboard
  • Attendance Tracking (in research)
    FullSizeRender (91).jpg
  • 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!
      FullSizeRender (94).jpg

Collaborate Ultra
FullSizeRender (95)
FullSizeRender (96).jpg

  • 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
FullSizeRender (98)

  • Bb Instructor (in development)
  • Bb Planner and Blackboard Advise (launch in 2016)
  • Bb Student
    FullSizeRender (97)

#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…

#BbWorld16 – General Session: Unveiling Blackboard’s latest developments


We’ve built an exciting conference dedicated to the topics that matter most to you. Hear from Blackboard leaders, including new CEO, Bill Ballhaus, and SVP, Katie Blot, as they unveil the latest developments designed to help customers:

• Leverage data-driven insights
• Transform the student journey
• Take advantage of the latest features of the Learn platform
• Optimize student outcomes
• Assess and implement mission-critical initiatives


To partner with you to help students succeed is why Blackboard exists

  • Focus on needs, challenges, and opportunities
    • Engaging end users
    • Safe schools
    • Enrollment, retention, affordability
    • Educate at scale
  • Deliver thoughtful and relevant innovation across our portfolio – Bb is investing $350 million in product innovations this year – this is more than triple the revenue of the nearest competitor
  • Breadth and broad reach of our portfolio
  • Deep insights about the world of the learner
  • 19,000 customers and the Bb portfolio is the largest in the industry
  • Focus is on listening to customers, analyzing across data sets, empathetically understand our users, and then use a unique design approach.
  • Bb Planner – Student organizer
  • Bb Advise – Predictive analytics
  • Bb Predict – Early guidance and intervention for at risk students
  • Bb purchased CASHNet for financial services for students.
  • New strategic partner with IBM, IBM Watson, and Amazon Web Services
  • Blackboard is committed to the fundamentals:
    • Develop and Deliver
    • Support Customers
    • Innovate
    • Communicate

FullSizeRender (77)

  • Blackboard is your Partner in Student Success
    • Drive learning outcomes is the focus
      • Teaching and Learning Solutions – Bb Learn and Moodlerooms, Analytics for Learn, and Bb Collaborate
    • Bring families, teachers, and communities together to support student success
      • Community Engagement – ParentLink, SchoolWires, Blackboard Connect
    • Identify and enroll the right students; engage and support the student journey
      • Student lifecycle Solutions – Enrollment Services, Student Account and Financial Aid, Retention Services, Blackboard Analytics
    • Commerce Solutions – Bb Transact
    • Keep Students Safe – Bb Transact, Blackboard Connect
  • Powerful Insights
    • Community Input – Community of Practice with 19,000 Clients, Tech Previews, Community Site with 6,000 Users
    • Data Science – Bb manages a large data footprint with 7 TB of data, 1,200 institutions, 35M learners and teachers, 7M courses, 2.7B LMS sessions
      • Web conferencing through Collaborate – Bb created an engagement metric can be a challenge but it needed to measure participation aka “Principle Component Analysis”. (Bb was first LMS to support and integrate Caliper standard.)
    • Empathetic Research – Educational needs to continue to evolve and change and they are doing so faster and faster. Bb takes a user-centered approach in designing products. Contextual research and many hours are spent where students and faculty are located and facilitate immersive interviews. Students have a short-term, reactive approach to deadline and due dates aka “Activity Stream”
      FullSizeRender (80)
    • Delivering thoughtful and relevant innovation across the Bb portfolio
      FullSizeRender (81)
    • Bb Learn is the most feature rich LMS in the market today. The original experience and the ultra experience. Ultra is a streamlined and modern UI. Ultra is thoughtful innovation that is designed to promote student learning outcome. Deployments of the platform are offered as Self Hosted, Managed Hosted, Saas. There is 1 Learn, 2 Experiences, and 3 Deployment options.
    • Teaching and Learning Solution Highlights
      FullSizeRender (82)

      • No plans to end the “Original Experience” with a focus on quality (100’s of bug fixes, updated technology, unified code, simplified releases), enhancements (competency-based education tools aka goal performance dashboard), and mobile (available to all customers to access Learn and Collaborate).
      • A new responsive Q2 2016 release has a new Ultra interface, and it is now available!
      • What’s next with the Original Experience?
        • Attendance Tracking
          FullSizeRender (83)
        • REST APIs for All – Modern and scalable way to create integrations.
      • The Ultra Experience of Blackboard Learn – preview.blackboard.com is available now via “Educator Preview”
        FullSizeRender (84)
        FullSizeRender (85)
      • Coming next in Learn Ultra
        • Group Conversations using Collaborate Ultra
        • Audio and Video to be “Built-in”
          FullSizeRender (86)
    • New Product Innovation – Plan, Predict, Engage
      • Bb Planner (Northeast Wisconsin Technical College partnership was the first and Bb is now interested in working with additional colleges.)  From an app students can schedule and register for classes with Bb Planner.
      • Bb Advise provides advanced insight into student plans along with predictive analytics along with the ability for advisors to communicate with students online.
      • Bb Predict (Blue Canary) provides solutions for students that are at risk. The process is to identify a problem, ingest data, use modeling to provide an answer and then distribute a set of actions to those of staff that can facilitate an intervention.
      • Engage – Growing personalized enrollment services, support simplified student experiences, and retain with 360 degree student engagement. Partnership with George Mason University using Design Thinking in product development but also with students on their pathway. Goal at George Mason University is to reinvent the entire student experience, enrollment, advising, student life, technology use. The “Student Experience Redesign” with a goal to create a more seamless and integrated experience.

#BbWorld16 – K12 Rocket Session


Increasing Student Success with a Virtual Ambassador

  • Volusia Online Learning
  • K12 School with 11,000 Course Enrollments
  • 45 Schools in Volusia
  • Close monitoring of enrollment data, program data, and course completion
  • Challenges with “not my student” “not my instructor” with the virtual ambassadors, scheduling, fidelity from school to school
  • Increased in tutoring attendance, rapport/relationships

Top 10 Tools for Personalized Learning

  • Blackboard’s Adaptive Release – Control when students see content and when they are ready.
  • Kaizena – Add on for Google Docs that allow you to leave comments to student work. Include audio and video in feedback.
  • Screencast-O-Matic – Screen recording and training for students for content development (use mashup in Bb to bring video in)
  • Google Forms – Embedded in Blackboard to monitor students progress, reading responses, science lab exit tickets, etc.
  • Seesaw – App for students to demonstrate learning, film a lab, support video projects
  • Thinglink – Make an image interactive, insert audio, URLs, video, maps, etc.
  • Padlet – Collaborative note taking, images, students can see each other’s work, silent discussions, thank you notes for speakers, embed into Bb
  • Crafty Text – Enlarge text on screen as a Chrome extension
  • Storify – Information curation for social by tags, organize by folders, add links pictures videos articles.
  • Tackk – Compile a series of resources into a single web page, portfolios

How History Went Paperless

  • Cleveland City Schools 1:1 Initiative
  • Move away from “traditional textbook
  • Bb was chosen for plagiarism detection, tool set
  • 4 laptop carts in middle school and 6 laptop carts in high school
  • Completely paperless classroom
  • PowerPoint and Word used by students for web quests and submit assignments for grading
  • Discussion boards used for class conversations
  • Content was set up based on social studies state standards
  • Learning modules are used in some classes for independent work

Bb Showcase Course

  • Arlington Public Schools
  • Created a Blackboard course to spark ideas, share best practices, and serve as a showcase site
  • Little Bb training causes users to say that it’s hard or clunky
  • Marketing campaign to share the positive stories, showcase site includes how to’s on tools, content examples, features, success stories of teachers, monthly Bb open lab
  • Let other teachers know about the success stories of using Bb in classroom (using social like Twitter)

Blackboard on the Bayou

  • Let the good times roll… Take advantage of new updates and features.
  • Blackboard is used for delivering content, assessment, collaboration, parents as observers, PD, crisis management (school organization site for each school), mandatory courses, collaboration centers
  • Parents are given access to see their kids, they can peak into the classroom, look over materials
  • Collaboration Centers – Use a quiz for documentation of agreement (adaptive release), view benchmarks, teachers use discussion boards to discuss text items and report issues with items, sites are used to collaborate on tests and resources for classes

#BbWorld16 – Open Source Analytics for Growing Adoption of Blackboard Learn using BbStats

Pictured from left to right: Eric Kunnen, Shahbaz Khan, Cheryl McKearin, and Szymon Machajewski

BbStats has been a leading OSCELOT project for about seven years. The analytics tool reports on Blackboard Learn system health and usage and provides valuable information about activity and use patterns. This session will dive deeper into the tools and reports needed to increase adoption.

This session highlighted the use of the free open source Blackboard Building Block called BbStats, written by Szymon Machajewski. The session was facilitated by Szymon who is an affiliate instructor at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and serves at a Blackboard system administrator at UIC.

Eric Kunnen, Associate Director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies at GVSU participated on a panel with Shahbaz Khan and Cheryl McKearin from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Highlights from the session included discussing the value of using BbStats for:

  1. Administrative Communication – Institutional Awareness, Transparency and Common Understanding/Importance of using Blackboard at the University

    “What are the system metrics of usage?”

  2. Measuring and Informing Teaching and Learning Impact, Discovery, and Increasing Adoption  – Target Emailing, PD, and Campus Events

    “Who are our innovative and engaged faculty and what tools are they using?”

  3. Showcasing, Celebrating, Marketing, and Promotion – Infographics, Email Highlights

    “Did you know how Blackboard is used and by how many faculty and students?”

Szymon Machajewski provided an overview and tour of the large variety of data that BbStats collects and displays.


Here is an example infographic for GVSU’s use of Blackboard from the Fall 2015 semester using BbStats data:

  • 90% of faculty and 97% of students logged into Blackboard at GVSU



#BbWorld16 – Mining for Gold in your Institution’s Blackboard Learn Data

Analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and their environments.

Faculty and students are most interested in

San Diego State University Learning Analytics Study

  • President level initiative
  • Goal, identify effective interventions driven by learning analytics “triggers”
  • Multiple triggers include: LMS Access, Grades, Online Homework
  • Focused on high need courses
  • Reference: EDUCAUSE Presentation Slides

Research Study Plan

  1. Identify courses and recruit instructors
  2. Prior to course start, review syllabus, meaningful “triggers” for each course (e.g. Attendance, graded items, Bb use, etc.)
  3. Run reports in Bb, online homework, quiz, identify students with low activity or performance
  4. Send “flagged” student in experimental group a notification/intervention (friendly reminder send by the instructor)
  5. Aggregate data and analyze


  • Triggers vary by course and by section were found
  • Highly effective in courses with high LMS use
  • High school GPA is a good predictor of success, LMS usage overtook the predictor after 2 weeks
  • Interventions didn’t make a difference in learning outcomes – found low reach of intervention messages (75% opened and only 35% clicked on link in email)

New Intervention – Supplemental Instruction

  • Using supplemental instruction (participated in optional sessions led by peer) was shown dramatic results in improvement

How can course design influence student success (via Bb Analytics for Learn) via UMBC:

  • Usage of Blackboard (content – syllabus, documents, videos, textbooks, interactive tools – discussion, chats, blogs, wikis, assessment – grades, assignments, quizzes)
  • Key finding:

    “students were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to earn a C or better when the Grade Center was used”

  • Retention by Learn Risk Profile – High Grades and High Engagement is Key

Data Sources available in Bb: