Okay, wow, the BbWorld conference was, as always, intense and packed with knowledge. And in case one doesn’t get their fill of knowledge within the many sessions, there was even a knowledge bar set up, where the Blackboard MVPs would answer specific questions. I got to see whole hordes of people taking advantage of that offering, and mostly walking away satisfied.
Three keynotes, in all, and they all really did resonate around a single theme. Joi Ito went all out during the opening keynote, discussing how creation of hardware casually isn’t that amazing, considering that kids are going to be assembling genes on their own in under a generation. (I’m not sure I’d WANT my kids assembling their own bacterium. Perhaps this is the real reason so many places have written up “Zombie Apocalypse” plans?) As the corporate keynote on day 2, Jay Bhatt discussed the Blackboard company focus, which boiled down to “Reimagine and Redesign.” Corporate recognized that EdTech isn’t going to continue the way it has been, and are trying their best to support the evolution of education in the years to come. Geoffrey Canada (of the Harlem Children’s Zone fame) raised the roof at the closing keynote. Canada’s dry wit and statistical information regarding education issues made for thoughtful hilarity, and his recital of the poem “Don’t Blame Me”… well, it was intense.
The sessions I attended were nearly all packed to the rafters; in three sessions I ended up wall-propping or sitting on the carpet. I had the opportunity to hear educators speak on pedagogy, engineers speak on software development issues, even Blackboard management more in-depth on their intentions for the future of the Blackboard Learn product. Honestly I’m still internalizing most of what I heard and saw, but I can hit the high points:
- An iOS app for instructors to grade student work, which is coming soon.
- A completely changed interface for Blackboard Learn, that is likely to improve life for faculty and students, which is coming, but probably not VERY soon.
- The licensing structure of both the Blackboard products and their hosting offerings are undergoing dramatic change. Although this sounds esoteric, the net result ought to be our gaining the Content and Community system abilities.
- I am going to be jumping like a jack-rabbit to prepare for all the new tools and changes coming down the pike.
So I find myself thrilled and exhausted by what the future of Blackboard is shaping up as. Clearly there will be more later, but for now, I’m going to take a nap.