Blackboard World cranked back up for a final day of networking with the thousands of people at the conference. I spent the morning with the Central States Blackboard Users Group meeting. This group of Blackboard institutions in Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska works to share information and work to improve online education in the states it serves. I’ve been asked to join the leadership team to help with event planning and other items for the group.
I just left the Arkansas Blackboard Users Group (ARBUG) which I helped to start a few years back. If you aren’t a member of a user group you really should take the time to find one near you and become an active member. If you can’t find one nearby contact community(at)blackboard.com to get help finding one near you.
The final keynote featured Sal Kahn, founder of Kahn Academy, who spoke about Rethinking Education. No matter if you question how Kahn and his team present information, his story from a hedge fund analyst to creating videos that Bill Gates uses will inspire educators. Much of his speech to attendees can be found in the CBS 60 Minutes interview broadcast earlier this year.
Here is another video from NBC News about Kahn Academy…
Bloggers, like myself, were able to sit and type about the conference during these sessions. Behind me was the sketch artist who was creating sketchnotes about the keynotes and a few of the presentations. I was lucky enough to talk to him and he actually sketched the presentation I helped give on Day 2. Here’s a look at his sketches from the Sal Kahn presentation.
I recommend that you take a look at all the sketches that he did. I will post his information up here when I find his card. 🙂 Note: The sketch artist is Gerren Lamson and you can find him on twitter @gerrenlamson
After the keynote, I made a quick run through the exhibit hall to visit two companies that I have worked with, Sharestream and SmarterServices. Both companies are great to work with and have awesome folks who really want to engage and improve the educational experience. Sharestream offers the ability to stream media into your Blackboard Learn course and can give instructors the ability to accept video assignment submissions. It’s a great tool for those instructors who want to use video to engage students in a course.
SmarterServices offer some great tools to keep and improve quality in your online courses. I was a customer a few years ago before I moved to the University of Missouri. Since then, I’ve been building Blackboard server instances for them. These instances help demonstrate one of the great products they have called SmarterMeasure. The process asks potential students a series of questions and gives them activities to complete. The information collected will be compared to research data on the successfullness of students who had similar scores. It then gives them the ability to understand where they might have issues with online education and can help them know if online education is right for them. If you are looking at ways to improve the quality of the students and faculty in your online programs, take a look at SmarterServices. 🙂
After a quick bite for lunch, I started to work on a few emails and get caught up on things before the Client Appreciation Party. I then headed to a meeting with Stephanie Tan, Director of Security at Blackboard. I spent two hours talking with her about the state of security in Blackboard and what the future holds. Stephanie is very easy to talk to and we were feeding off the interest and excitement that we have about security. It was great to learn what is coming and I told her I am very interested in helping Blackboard’s security team create great tools for system admins like me.
And then there was fun…
After talking with Stephanie, I had to go back to my hotel and get some rest. Man, it was going to be a long day if I didn’t get a nap. I grabbed an hour of shut eye then headed to Mardi Gras World where we threw our hats and boas on to celebrate the end to another great Blackboard World! I got to dance, eat, and was surprised to get a awesome birthday gift from none other than Michael Chasen himself. The party continued into the night with an after party at Generations Hall. It was awesome and I stayed for quite a while visiting with friends and dancing. Below is a slideshow of images from the party.