Slate Conference 2014

Greetings readers, sorry for the delay in blogging lately, but the start of the semester has brought back some old issues that have kept me busy. Luckily I was able to get away for a few days and head to the Land of Lincoln. Specifically Naperville, IL where Northern Illinois University played host to the 12th annual Slate Conference. This was my first time to attend the conference.

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Click the image above to see a slideshow of images from the conference…

So to those of you who might not know Slate is a regional Blackboard Users group that has grown to become a premiere regional conference hosted by a user’s group. Ken Sadowski has been the leader of the Slate ship along with many people who make up the user group’s board. Slate over the years has adopted a welcoming attitude with regional institutions who say or leave the Blackboard fold. Many in attendance were Moodle or Sakai users.

The conference covered three days with a wide variety of topics and presentations, most however focused on training, instructional design, and use of technology in the classroom. I had many attendees to my presentation on tools to improve the Blackboard Learn environment from a support and administrative point of view which was one of a few technical presentations.

There were some excellent keynote presenters during the conference. The first was Randy Bass from Georgetown University. He currently is the Vice Provost for Education as well as a Professor of English there. He wrote a very thought provoking article called “Disrupting Ourselves: The Problem of Learning in Higher Education” [Link] which gives you a good understanding of his thoughts on Higher Education. The presentation he gave that day was titled “Designing the University for 2030” which isn’t that far away. However if we look back at the where we were in technology in 2000, there is a lot of room to change a grow. Bass gave a similar presentation at Vanderbilt University at their Celebration of Learning 2014. You can watch the YouTube video below.

Blackboard did bring a great presenter for Friday morning’s presentation. Valorie Schreiner spoke about the changes in Blackboard’s marketplace and how the company continues to work to reimagine education. During the presentation we saw what Blackboard calls Ultra which is a new interface that looks to be an amazing experience for the student or instructor. Brad Koch demonstrated the new Ultra look to users after Valorie’s presentation.

This is one of the best regional conferences. The different topics and people to network with about educational technology makes the trip worthwhile. Along with the wonderful location and hospitality. I would recommend marking your calendars for next year’s Slate conference.

Technically Yours,

The Blackboard Guru

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