After the keynote, I went to a presentation on moving from Wimba Classroom to Collaborate. It was given by my co-worker, Charlie Rigdon. He gave a great overview of all the steps he used as he tested and implemented Collaborate at the University of Missouri. He decided to work on putting Collaborate into production after seeing it during Blackboard World 2011 in Las Vegas. “After seeing the product, I went all in.” said Rigdon as an image of casino chips appeared on the powerpoint side. Many of those attending the session were on Wimba and were trying to figure out how to make the move to the new Blackboard Collaborate in the near future. Many complained that their biggest concern would be the faculty and user impact sans a conference phone number. Charlie explained that MU had gone to a third party to implement a phone conference solution to interface with Collaborate, but it is “rather clunky.” Here’s a look at Charlie’s presentation…
After Charlie’s presentation I headed down to the exhibit hall to meet with Devin and the team from Kaltura. Before talking with Devin, I found this awesome new product called the Swivl. It used your iPhone, iPod, or Android to capture you presenting to your class. First you must download the app to your phone. Then simply put your camera in the dock and pick up the small remote with it. The remote has a microphone and a button to start recording. The device then moves your phone around the room as you walk with the remote. Once it’s done the app will upload the video to your Kaltura instance. I was amazed and thought this would be awesome to use. Think about it. As long as you had a smartphone and these devices in the classroom there’s no need for a webcam and computer to record and best of all the camera will follow you! Here’s a short video about it…
I finally stopped being green with tech envy, I sat down with Devin Beck. Devin works for Kaltura, an SaS product that the university has purchased to host videos. It integrates with Blackboard and so I wanted to know how the system intergrated with my application. Within about 45 minutes my questions about the building block connects, what data was stored in the application, and more were put to rest and I knew how much work getting this system ready for the Fall semester would take.
I then went and listened to Paige L. Brooks-Jeffiers from the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) and Ira Strauss from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University talk about how they use the content system. I will be honest, I thought the presentation was about xpLor the new product I spoke about in my last post, but I was happy to learn more about what these two institutions do. First to brag about Paige. While I finally met her after the presentation, I have admired the hard work she and her team have done over the past few years. Kentucky worked with Blackboard to create one course management system for all the two year colleges in the state. A great way to leverage the money that the state was spending with Blackboard. With that, they were able to get the content system and she spoke about how they use that system with correspondence courses.
The student will get a link to a content folder and a feature within the content system allows Paige’s team to disable access after a specific amount of time, normally a few days after the student must complete the course. It’s a great way to control access to content when you aren’t using a course shell to do so.
Ira, whom I have met before, offered up the unique ways that his institution uses the content part of Blackboard. One of the biggest issues for his institution is size. They have campuses around the world along with students around the world. He gave one unique example that really made me think how to use the content system outside the “box” thought process. Embry-Riddle has multiple sites and their main campus approves and creates the admission and pamphlet information for students. The files are too big to email and shipping the created items too expensive. So the marketing department uploads the files to the Blackboard content system, sends a link to the publisher that is only valid for a week and the pamphlets are made from the file. Amazing to think how a content system can really empower an institution.
The rest of the afternoon I spent it preparing for my presentation with Nita Copeland, Sue Burris, and Mark Burris all from the University of Arkansas of Little Rock. While preparing, Julie Rorabaugh from Crowley College stopped by. If you don’t know Julie, you are missing out. She lands on the lofty list of Dr. C’s that Blackboard has (people look cooler in white doctor coats!). She offers insightful discussion about instructional technology. Find her on twitter at http://twitter.com/rorabaughj
But I digress, our presentation was on the ARBUG Diamond Award program. The program is the only statewide program that I know of that uses the Exemplary Courses Rubric from Blackboard. This rubric came over from WebCT and has some noted directors who supervise the program (Find the list here: http://kb.blackboard.com/display/EXEMPLARY/Blackboard+Exemplary+Course+Directors).
We decided to create a program that would improve online course development in the state of Arkansas by finding exemplary courses and show those to attend the ARBUG conference. Mark was given director’s position for this program and his wife, Sue, was one of the reviewers. Each one of us offered insight on what we did with the program opened our eyes.
Nita was our first winner, she offered her feedback during the presentation on the process and how it improved her and saw what she was doing right. Sometimes instructors don’t get the positive feedback. Our process really focuses on being positive about the work and offering constructive and professional comments to help improve the course. After winning the Diamond Award, Nita’s course received Quality Matters certification and was and ECP award winning course at Blackboard World 2012. Personally, this is a point of pride for me. It was just an idea that I thought would be good. Now I see how it has impacted the state. I find it to be one of the best things I’ve ever done professionally.
Note (July 17th): I just found out that the sketch artist who has been creating the awesome drawings did one from our presentation. See it below:
I ended the night meeting up with the “Boston 8” These people are all Certified Blackboard Trainers who were certified when Blackboard World was held in Boston. I guess because of Chris Martinez, I’m an honorary member. Each year, we get together for dinner and some lively conversation. These situations offer one of the best reason to attend this conference. Each year you are hearing and developing more information and relationships that will help in the future. Chris is helping spearhead a Blackboard Certified Trainers Users Group. If you are interested please post your interest in the comments or email guru(at)blackboardguru.com