eLearning Frenzy

eLearning is like a sewer, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.



BbWorld16 Session Blog – General Session 1

Unveiling Blackboard’s Latest Developments  Ballroom 3:30 – 5pm

  1. Your Needs challenges and opportunities
  2. Uniquely addressing needs
  3. Committement to fundamentals

k12 – engaging families to improve student achievement, different funding models
higher ed – enrollment, retention, ROI, post traditional learner
corporate – addressing skills gap
all of these are different and unique..needs are evolving and changing over time.

Blackboard addressing uniquely – Helping Students Succeed

  • Deliver thoughtful and relavent info across portfolio
  • Breadth and broad reach of portfolio 19k customers, 100 million users, 100 countries
  • Deep insights about world of learner – listening to you, looking at datasets, understanding our users, convert insights into innovations

New Products – Blackboard Planner, Blackboard Advise, Blackboard Predict
Investing 350million dollars into innovation of core teaching and learning products and rest of Blackboard’s Portfolio.

Commitment to Fundamentals

  • Develop and Deliver – established total transparency from scrum teams to Board of Directors (visibility into product development activities), consolidation of strategy, marketing.
  • Support Customers – (operational excellence and improving customer experience).
  • Innovate – investing in innovation at scale…partner that meets your evolving needs
  • Communicate – clear, open and regular communication and that includes listening.


Product Strategy

Portfolio capabilities – learner interacts with admin, support staff, counselors, employers, advisors, classmates, teachers/faculty, parents

Core of student success mission is driving learning outcomes.  Core of Blackboard portfolio is Teaching and Learning products.    2 most prevalent LMSs – Blackboard & Moodlerooms.

Embedded learning analytics, world class collaboration and mobile tools are also part of portfolio.

K12 – parental and community involvement is fundamental to drive student success.

Solution Set of student lifecycle services – Student Account Support, Helpdesk support, retention and enrollment services.

Powerful Insights – Community input, data science and empathetic research

Community of Input – that’s us 19k customers a community of practice, surveys, technical previews, customer research groups, innovative teaching series.

Data Science – John Whittmer “Dr. John” -7 tb of learning data, 1,200 institutions, 35m learners and teachers, 7m courses, 2.7billion Lms sessions – Looking at specific research questions and/or broad trends.  Blackboard doesn’t own data…this is our data.

Collaborate Data – Engagement Metric (across, chat, audio, video, app share) Students can get engagement score.  Session engagement timeline.

Empathetic Research – Matt Franks – We are taking a user-centered approach in designing our emergent products.  Understanding what people do and why do they do it?

Activity Stream – entry point for students in Bb Student and Ultra (came from empathetic research of students.

1 Learn, 2 Experiences, 3 Deployments

Shared code, ultra and 9.1, self-hosted, managed hosted, SaaS

Roadmap – Where we are

  • Quality – hundreds of bug fixes, updated tech, unified code and simplified releases
  • Enhancements – CBE
  • Mobile Support – Bb Student available to all customers, expired by ultra experience avialable now

What’s next with Original Experience of Learn

  • Attendance Record (track attendance within learn – optional provide a grade and export)
  • API Dev Portal – Restful APIs available

What’s next with Ultra Experience of Learn

  • Educator Preview (
  • updates on Ultra
  • granularity of control of ultra adoption




BbWorld14 Keynote Blog: Joi Ito

Joi Ito
Technology Visionary
Director of MIT Media Lab

Joi provides his perspective on what new technologies are just over the horizon and how that they will affect the way eduation is delivered and received.

JOI – dropped out of college three times and got kicked out of kindergarten.  He now convinces

Learning is What you to do yourself and education is what others do to you.

World is divided into 2 phases: BI (Before Internet) and AI (After Internet)

Internet is not a technology it is a philosophy.  Internet is about Best Effort!

Low-cost networks and computing = Low cost of Innovation

Telephone companies in Japan and France tried to build internet from scratch costing billions of dollars.  When interent happened (Google Yahoo, Facebook) Students who didn’t raise money to put it together, they just did it.  The only time they had to hire an MBA was when they figured out the business model.

AI (after internet)- permission-less innovation system

Safecast – nonprofit used cognitive surplus (hodge-podge of experts and volunteers) Put together after fukishima.  Mobile Geiger counters  (20 Million Data points)  All open data, it is an app.  The Government only has 20 thousand data points.  The citizens succeeded where the government failed.

Students using internet to fund innovation development costs!

Designing what is cheap, simple and functional – Innovation.  Paradigm shift – making hardware look and feel a lot more like software.

Synthetic Biology – To program cells to become cellular factories, sensors.

Sorona – DuPonts -takes sugar and turns it into Polyester
Moore’s Law for Silicon  – getting cheaper and cheaper from design to Fabrication to working Chip to product.

Cost of sequencing genes is going down about 4 times faster than Moore’s law.

We will be giving our kids recombinant biology DNA kits.

Are we trying to prepare our kids for a day when they are on top of a mountain with no signal trying to solve a math problem with pencil.

Brain Activity during class  – less active than when students relax.

Creative learning is about projects, peers, passion and play.  Learn with PBL, when you teach (interact with peers), learn because you the energy to learn about something (passion), Life long learning – play.

When you get many people together they start creating their own classes within the big class.  Perfect example of interest base learning.

Connected Learning:

Surrounded by places you can learn: peer groups, social media, interests, community organizations etc…  How do you connect things that happen in school and out of school, online or in the real world, kids & adults.

Interests, Peer Culture, Opportunities: Production Centered, Shared Purpose, Openly Networked

Antidisciplinary – You can’t fit in a discipline.  Space between disciplines is bigger than space in disciplines.

Design – Form follow function – but look at iPhone (Steve Jobs had to make a leap)

We all need to be artists, scientist, designers and engineers.

When your mission is passion and project driven you do what you need to do to get it done!


Practice Over Theory – don’t let lack of theory get in the way of trying things.
Resilience Over Strength
Systems over objects
Compasses over Maps
Disobedience over Compliance – you don’t get a nobel prize for doing what you are told!
Pull over Push –
Emergence over authority
Risk over Safety
Learning over education


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