Closing Keynote: Sugata Mitra

Sugata Mitra
TED Profile

Beyond the Hole in the Wall, eBook by Sugata Mitra

According to Sugata Mitra, the title of his first few talks was “The Hole in the Wall,” after much attempts at finding a new title, nothing worked! ūüôā Thus this talk has no title.

Sugata Mitra at Blackboard World 2013

“Look at how these kids are learning because I’m not there.” ~Sugata Mitra

The teaching methodology of Sugata Mitra, “I don’t know, and I’m going away.”

The Grandmother Method: “Stand behind them. Every time they do anything say, ‘Wow, that’s fantastic, how did you do that?'”

“Can you kill a goat by staring at it?” ~Sugata Mitra

“I know British Grandmothers, more than anyone else.” ~Sugata Mitra

“The granny cloud” ~Sugata Mitra

“Let’s make some machines that don’t break, okay?” ~Sugata Mitra

Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE), download a tool kit at Sugata Mitra’s TED Profile.

Schools in the Cloud.

‘Online Readiness Preppers’: Preparing Faculty and Their Adult Students for Fully Online Programs

Michelle Simms, Director of Instructional Technology
Gwynedd Mercy College

Gwynedd Mercy College’s Stats

  • Founded in 1948
  • Five divisions/schools
  • Three satellite campuses
  • 2900 students
  • 196 Faculty (84 full-time)
  • Blackboard Managed Hosted since 2011

Questions & Challenges

  • How will you get ready and how will you assess the readiness of students?
  • Heavy competition from other institutions
  • Faculty buy-in of online programs is often problematic
  • Limited academic support for fully-online programs
  • Middle States’ strict compliance standards
  • Small team of two in instructional technology at the college

Top Solutions

  • Contracted third-party (Synergis Education) to partner with the Instructional Technology team.
  • Established a list of acceptable Equivalent Instructional Activities (EIAs) for faculty
  • Devised standardized experiences and expectations via a Student Readiness Course and¬†Faculty Online Training Certification course (FOTC)
  • Customized a Peer Review process for each course

EIAs & Accompanying Technology

The list includes equivalent instructional activities, how they can be assessed, and the technology that can be used in Blackboard for the activity.

  • Icebreakers
  • Interviews
  • Journals
  • Oral Reports
  • Peer Reivew
  • Quizzes
  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Simulations
  • Wikis
  • Web Designs
  • Case Briefs
  • Concept Mapping
  • Debates
  • Gaming
  • Document Analysis
  • Gaming
  • Field Work
  • Essays

Student Online Readiness Course

Homegrown and in a Blackboard course. Students have to finish this course before they can take an online course at the College. There are learning modules with activities and then one final overall quiz.

Teaching Technologies

Peer Review Process

  • Once a course Faculty Instructional Guide is completed, the school dean, peer faculty members, IT staff, and the Synergis designer (via WebEX) attend a peer review session.
  • The faculty member presents the course materials, activities, and assignments, and answers.
  • They use the Quality Matters model.

Expected Outcomes

  • All online instructors will be certified prior to teaching their course in Blackboard.
  • Success rate of Online Student Readiness course will improve student retention.
  • Ongoing technology support in FOTC will improve instructor confidence with technology.


Mobile Learning: It Takes a Village

Robin Robinson, Director of Education Technology and Support
Clair Waterbury, Instructional Technologist
Framingham State University

Backchannel –¬†

The Background

About Framingham:

  • 175 years in 2014
  • 20 miles West of Boston (metro West)
  • 6506 students – 4489 Undergrads, 2017 Grad Students
  • Blackboard Users since 2000
  • Liberal Arts College
  • Undergrad Laptop Requirement started in 1998
  • State University
  • Faculty Union

The need was clear, students were bringing more mobile devices to campus, and faculty were beginning to ask to use mobile devices (iPads). One biology instructor wanted to use tablets and mobile technology to be more green in her courses. She wanted to have iPads to use in class, with apps on them.

The Approach at Framingham:

  1. Assembled a team
  2. Create a process
  3. Identify resources
  4. Build support (from faculty, upper management, …)
  5. Define policies and procedures

Mobile Task Force:

  • Operations: Policy, Procedure and Support (define what a mobile device is, at Framingham it was a kindle, Android, iOS Device, and Windows Device)
  • Our Mobile Footprint
  • Teaching and Learning Environment

The Village:

The Village at Framingham

The Approach: Innovative Grants

  • Develop technology proficiency
  • Design new instructional strategies
  • Improve teaching effectiveness
  • Increase student learning
  • Limited resources

Success Stories:

  • Community Building (cross departmental communication and collaboration)
  • Integration into the Curriculum
  • Mobile Task Force
  • Tablet Breakfasts (would sit over breakfast with faculty and tablets, personal connections happened and so did sharing of Apps)
  • Innovation Grants

Mobile Presence Currently:

  • The students adopted Bb Mobile Learn before the University did.
  • FSU Go Guide
  • FSUgo – mobile web application


  • Art Education: Art teacher students will learn how to teach art with mobile devices (tablets).
  • Computer Animation: The goal was to have students do more work with their mobile devices to animate. The Mac lab is very confining, there are 5 Macs and 10 students.
  • Social Media: Victorian Literature, engaged students in victorian literature by using tablets in creative ways.
  • Graphic Novels: Original goal was to have students create iBooks in iPads. It is necessary to use the Mac to create iBooks which then can be viewed on iPads.
  • Student Engagement: Faculty Champion

The Details

iPad Pilot 2012-2013: Mobile Engagement

Fall Semester:

  • Hardcopy text
  • eBook on laptop (only a few were originally willing to use the eBook on their laptop)
  • eBook on iPad
  • Free Apps only
  • Pearson Platform

Spring Semester:

  • Instructor selected iBook
  • Institution purchased apps, Apple Suite
  • Text on CourseSmart
  • Took volunteers, everyone had an iPad in the classroom, true 1-to-1 experience

The Results:

  • Blackboard Mobile University License was purchased
  • Evernote Electronic Lab notebook
    • a faculty member purchased a one year subscription to Evernote which allowed her to share out notebooks. Pictures, videos, and images can all be added to notebooks.
  • Mobile Task Force
  • Creation on Web App: FSU Go

Tablet Grant 2013-2014: Mobile Engagement Comparison

In this grant, during the first semester, 1/2 of the students were given iPads and 1/2 were given Lenovo ThinkPad Tablets. The second semester, they allowed students to choose, and the majority of students opted to use iPads. The other technology used:

  • Camtasia
  • Poll Everywhere
  • Dropbox
  • Blackboard Mobile
  • Overdrive, links to the library
  • Study Blue flash card creation, a free web service which has an app for students to create flash cards, or find already created ones to use.


  • Blackboard Catalyst Award Winner in 2012
  • EDUCAUSE Review Online

Graphic Novel Grant 2013-2014: Creating for Mobile

  • The first semester, the faculty member attempted to have his students use iBook author to create graphic novels. It was very difficult since iBook Author is built more for creating textbooks and not highly graphical books such as graphic novels.
  • Based on the feedback from the first semester, the faculty member used InDesign – Foliotool in CS6.

Social Media Grant 2013-2014: Mobile in Victorian Literature

  • Technology Used
    • iPad
    • Google + Communities
    • Classroom Salon
    • Puffin (browser)
    • Blackboard Mobile
  • Use of Dynamic Annotation
    • Classroom Salon, allows you to annotate over text.
    • Public and Private Annotation
    • Tagging
    • Collaboration with Carnegie Mellon
    • Commenting
    • Analytics
    • Personalized with Avatars
  • Uses of Google Communities (private group)
    • Role playing, adopting Victorian personas to use in their private Google + Community
    • Scavenger Hunt
    • Hashtags for assignments
    • Victorian Tea

What’s Next, Academic Year 2013-2014

  • Art Education: iPads for student teachers
  • Communication Arts: Computer Animation Techniques
  • English: Victorian Communities – continue to refine social media
  • Biology: lecture capture piloting Tegrity and Panopto and on-demand polling

Lessons Learned

  • Assessment is essential
  • Collaboration and Communication is key
  • Share the support
  • Embed sharing and support in Blackboard
  • Learn from others, share with others
  • BYOD is the reality
  • Students adopted Blackboard Mobile Learn (no prompting)
  • Convenient
  • Not a replacement for the laptop, yet
  • Opportunities to innovate

Make it Yours

  • There is an App for That
  • Make it fun! (Table Breakfasts…)
  • Innovation Grants (There are grants available out there! Start small…)
  • It will take a village.

Learning Analytics: A Journey to Implementation

Kevin O’Halla, Chief Information Officer
Eric Kunnen, Director, Distance Learning & Instructional Technologies
David Anderson, Enterprise Applications Manager, Information Technologies
Paul Herdegen, Data Warehouse Architect, Information Technologies

Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC)

Kevin O'Halla

Presentation available at

About GRCC:

  • 2 year Community College
  • Enrollment 17,000+
  • 200-300 Full Time and 600-800 Adjunct
  • Main Campus (Downtown), 2 Technical Education Centers, and Regional Locations

About Analytics:

What is analytics?

“The use of data, statistical analysis, and explanatory and predicative models to gain insights and at on complex issues.” – EDUCAUSE

Where is the data?

The data is in a variety of places:

  • ERP systems such as Banner, Datatel, PeopleSoft, Jezabar, etc…
  • Admin Systems, CRM, one-card, parking, bookstore, food service, early alert, etc…
  • Academic Systems, LMS, library, etc…
  • Assessment, Placement testing, student/faculty evaluations, etc…
  • College Readiness Assessment, ACT, SAT…
  • Peer Institution and Benchmarking Data

Analytics at GRCC

Eric Kunnen

With all of this data available, what can you do with it?

  • Visually view reports that can help you decide when to schedule maintenance at the time with the least amount of activity on the system.
  • View trends over time. Find out if the peek times of use is the same during the Fall and Winter semesters.
  • What courses are using the most space? Currently, the largest course is a music course with 6 GB of data.
  • Tool usage: Find faculty to share best practices around using specific tools, such as at a Teaching, Learning and Technology Showcase. Or, simply reach out to just the faculty using a specific tool if there is an upgrade happening soon.
  • Look at the discussion board (DB) use across the entire institution to see what courses are using the DB, and which courses have the most student activity on the DB.
  • Quickly look to see if content has been added to courses. (Does your school require that all faculty post a syllabus in their Blackboard course?)
  • Compare the final grade in your student information system with ¬†student’s activity in Blackboard. This opens up a whole new set of questions and opportunities that you can dig into further.

In a nutshell, Learning Analytics allows you to expose information that is currently tucked away in Blackboard to faculty, students, and various administrators on your campus.

The Art of Convincing Administration for More Support Staff

Adventist University of Health Sciences
Center for Educational Technology (CET)

Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.” ~Zig Ziglar

There are two focuses: conscious focus (support) and unconscious outcome (budget). It is important to focus on what you are doing well. At budget meetings, present short term and long term goals, and show your administration the “red cars.” (Laura Goodrich, Seeing Red Cars) In other words, have an intentional focus and stay on course towards an intentional goal.

Merit Awards – Over the past two years, 100% CET Staff Received Merit Awards – Are there opportunities like this at your institution?

Create Needs/Opportunities

“You know how to create needs that we can’t refuse…” ~University Chancellor

Provide excellence in everything that you do, like the Ritz Carlton.

MBWA – Management By Walking Around – Make yourself very visible.

Ask a faculty member what they need to do their job better. The chances that you will hear, “I need X, Y, and Z,” are minimal. You will more likely get, “I don’t need X, Y, or Z.” It is more helpful to ask faculty what the do in the class, what technologies are they using and how would they like to be using them better. This opens up the opportunity for you to help them find a new technology tool that might help them with their needs. Take all of these faculty needs, and then go to the administration.

“How much do you need?” ~University CFO

This is a hard question to answer, and whether it is asked directly or indirectly, we probably all hear it. Align your goals with the goals of the Administration. A tight alignment will help you be able to inadvertently ask for budget for your services/area.

“What do you see down the road?” ~University President

Try to project project staff hiring, one method is to be active and go back two to three years from when you will need that staff. In 2014, two new Masters Degree programs would be offered, following the development of the campus program, the programs would be offered online. The CET team attempted to project what that would look like in 2014, and then begin to work towards advocating for more people. As a result, one staff member was just approved to start working two days ago, and another position will become available to the CET in the 2014 budget.

“We need to clone your staff!” ~Faculty

Over support cheerfully – exceed expectations. The CET has created faculty showcases where they ask various departments and users how they use technology, and they invite these users into the faculty showcase for 15-20 minute presentations. Each presentation (every third week on a Monday) has at least on administrator present. This allows faculty to get up and say how they are using technology, that they are enjoying it, and how it is allowing them to be successful, and their students to succeed. There are always some best practices that can be shared between departments with varying teaching methods.

Dr. Lim asks his team how their workload is every week. He tries to help them shift their work to ensure that each person is working on what they are most passionate about or more interested in, and as a result, they are more productive. There is also creative time encouraged for all of the CET support staff. (Their staff is small, only four people.) These little things help the support staff be cheerful even in those tough situations where they have to visit the same users time and time again.

“We like $0 contracts!” ~University President

Maximize the use of your resources. It is important to be a good steward and both use the technology you have and abandon those technologies that you are no longer using.

10 Tips for Working with Administration

  1. Don’t talk about money
  2. Don’t whine about work load
  3. Don’t appear to be too busy
  4. DOn’t threaten to cut services
  5. Don’t threaten to leave
  6. Talk about their needs
  7. Strive to make their work easier
  8. Manage the perception of stewardship
  9. Resolve faculty issues before they get to the Admin
  10. Provide expert opinions and let them decide

Blackboard Corporate Keynote

Jay Bhatt
CEO, Blackboard

David Garibaldi to start us off?!?

Paint Your Experience…

During this perfect storm of change in the educational landscape, Jay Bhatt is excited to be returning to education. There is a technology paradigm shift going on; ten years ago, we were not talking about social, mobile, online and analytics. Today, you HAVE to talk about those words, those topics when you talk about education because it relates to our students. The future might be much closer than it appears to us today.

Jay has been with Blackboard for seven short months. He began with a discussion on the future of education with the people who have insight on it, internal and external to Blackboard. We have to have a perspective to be able to build the future – Education 2020 is the document that came out of that work. The perspective was from the outside in, instead of from the inside out. Six key trends were identified.6 trends

  1. Education truly global
    In 2020, 4 in 10 of the world’s young college graduates will come from China and India.
  2. Non-traditional learners
    Traditional students are 15% of todays undergraduates. 85% (15 million students in the U.S.) are non-traditional.
  3. Consumer-preferences/alternative models
  4. Learner centric education
  5. Big-Data in mainstream
  6. Online & mobile everywhere
    Online Education in Higher Education has tripled since 2003, the growth rate is 10x that of traditional methods

The next three months, Jay broke down the company to see if Blackboard in its current state matched the future.

On the plus side, Blackboard has (1) a good set of products, (2) phenomenal people working at the company, (3) fantastic customer relations, and (4) Blackboard is the only company that looks at the whole picture from kindergardeners to adults and lifelong learners.

Unfortunately, not all of the Blackboard products work well together. Blackboard is a good citizen, but could do a lot more. Finally, there are so many creative people in Blackboard, and Blackboard is going to invest in those creative people and bring more innovation to the education technology market.

Blackboard is a product company. They will always be a product company. But, at their heart, Blackboard is a Teaching and Learning company. The core of Blackboard is Teaching & Learning.

Blackboard Corporate Keynote Theme

Ray Henderson, President of Academic Platforms

The Report CardBlackboard Report Card - Keynote 2013

There is a lot of evidence to support the rapidly rising client satisfaction. Transparency has improved as well with record level roadmap sessions. Openness has been sustained with real commitment reflected in the Blackboard roadmap. However, in quality, Blackboard is just not to the check plus level yet. Testing has improved, there are client cohorts, field trial satisfaction at record levels, but it is not yet high enough. Finally, innovation is in its first year, and there have been many new features released with immediate impact.

  • The Course Analyzer – in development – the Exemplary Course Rubric is being put into a tool to help all course designers think about the key elements that improve course quality early.
  • Assessment Design – available now – instructors have much more control over when and how you can share feedback with students. Additionally, the ability to easily add test availability exceptions. (No more work arounds – an elegant onboard way to add exceptions to your course assessments!)
  • Safe Assign – in development – The¬†plagiarism¬†detection tool will become part of the overall design of the product, not a special, separate tool as it is now.
  • Video Everywhere – available now – faculty and students can make short clip video to add warmth,¬†immediacy¬† and a greater sense of community in the online environment. This is open, entirely free to everyone, reasonably future proofed, and does not fill up anyone’s disks, because it is all built around YouTube.
  • Blackboard Meeting Room – in development – Everyone will get this bundled in, for free! A lite version of the full flagship version of Blackboard Collaborate. You will be unable to record sessions or use telephony, application sharing or other advanced features. However, you will have a visual, technically¬†compatible¬†version to use on your campus even while upgrading to the full version of Collaborate on portions of your campus. For full suite users – all courses, instructors, will have permanent rooms. Telephony will come built-in, too!
  • Polls by Blackboard – in development – instant, live, classroom collaboration using mobile devices. No installation of new hardware, and no sending the student to purchase special hardware (clickers).
  • Mobile Learn – in development – More tools will available in the future to¬†further¬†personalize the information about your course. Also, a reading¬†experience that will make reading better in Mobile Learn.
  • Grade Center – in development – A number one priority at Blackboard to make this less painful. Two modes! Item view and grid views!! Infinite scrolling, no more paging! Look ahead searching to swiftly navigate to specific students for grading. Change¬†grade book¬†columns¬†simultaneously¬†with one move.
  • Open Badges & Achievements – available now – Just shipped! Supports Mozilla Open Badges, learners can share and keep their badges outside of the classroom. The OpenBadge standard has been integrated with Blackboard and once students earn a credential, they can move it outside of¬†Blackboard¬†into a badge backpack.
  • Analytics – Bridging the silos of data, Blackboard, SIS.
  • The Retention Center – available now – Behavioral data is now available so faculty can see performing, at risk, and excelling students.
  • Investigate Your Course – in development – The next step after the retention center, this will allow instructors to view behaviors and data across their entire course.
  • xpLor – available now – Share materials outside of an LMS, that works with multiple LMS. Creative Commons is embedded in xpLor to help the humans and machines know what rights go with what content.

Katie Blot, President of Education Services

Online & Mobile Everywhere – For this presentation, online is everything from hybrid courses to fully online programs.

There are a lot of external pressures happening on education. Students are now value shopping for their education. Increased accountability. (“What happens after the learner gets their degree?”) Learner expectations, anytime/anywhere access. Right now, 26% of 3rd to 5th graders (in the U.S.?) are interested in taking an online course.

Currently, 13% of schools offer MOOCs, and 46% of schools plan to offer MOOCs by 2016. The term MOOC was coined back in 2008 by Dave Cormier.

Open Access > Experimentation > Showcase

Drum roll please…. Blackboard will be providing free of charge to any Blackboard client a free MOOC platform. (Free, Hosted and Scalable) This platform will be familiar to Blackboard users, innovation available right when the latest tools and technology are available, bridge experiences between your MOOC and your enterprise application through xpLor, and a fully supported platform hosted by Blackboard hosting and supported by Blackboard. The platform will support over 40 million users. Today, 15 new schools will be using Blackboard for their open learning platform.

Remember, MOOCs are just one piece of the bigger picture of the online continuum.

MOOC on online learning continuum
Back to Jay for the wrap up with these new innovations:

  • Mosaic¬†–¬†the new Blackboard Mobile Central
  • TipTxt¬†– (K12 – a free product to help tackle the problem of bullying)
  • Innovation at Ottawa University
  • Next Generation Teaching & Learning Tools – how to invest ahead of the movement, rethinking credentialing across the entire continuum of ones life.

accelerate . integrate . innovate

P.S. Welcome to twitter Jay Bhatt!


Accessible Online Learning

Be Proactive: Creating An Accessible Online Learning Environment Using Blackboard

JoAnna Hunt, Design Strategist ‚Äď Blackboard Learn
Jennifer Pope, Copy & Compliance Editor – Northeastern University
Ke’Anna Skipwith, Instructional Designer – Northeastern University
Stephanie Weeks, Vice President – User Experience, Blackboard Academic Platforms

This session highlighted how Northeastern University is being proactive in building accessible online course content; along with the latest accessibility features in Blackboard Learn and Collaborate products. An accessible LMS + accessible faculty course content = student success.

Barriers to accessibility:

  • Lack of knowledge
  • Lack of Time
  • Challenges with the LMS
  • Lack of Awareness

 Biggest knowledge gaps:


 Some accessibility features in Blackboard Learn:

  • New accessible calendar.
  • Much easier to understand and navigate the discussion boards.
  • Skip links allow users to skip over major navigation sections (such as the course menu) and jump directly to the most relevant content. Skip links are available to both keyboard only and screen reader users.
  • The Quick links tool allows a user to quickly locate any heading or section within any page in the Blackboard Learn application and jump directly to it.
  • Test availability exceptions is a set of new settings on the Test Options page, available only after the test is added to a content area. Select one or more groups of students and make a number of exceptions to the already established availability settings. Exceptions can be used to provide an accommodation to a disabled student, or provide accommodations for technology and language differences.

Why be proactive in creating accessible online course content:

  • Saves time
  • Minimizes course disruption
  • Reduces cost

 Northeastern University’s approach:

  1. First step is mandatory two week training in which the instructor becomes certified.
  2. Second step is readiness / quality
    ¬†(2×2 rule ‚Äď 2weeks of course material ready 2 weeks before the course begins).
  3. Third step is ongoing support for faculty. Instructional designers assigned to faculty members for one-on-one support.

The follow are examples of being proactive in creating universally designed and accessible online course content at Northeastern University:

  • Use descriptive text and alt text.
  • Use CC and/or print transcripts to benefit all students with text reinforcement.
  • Use of the note section in Bb Collaborate Voice board.
  • Provide text based lectures in additional formats such as a PowerPoint that has the material chunked into sections.
  • Use the notes section in PowerPoints to provide additional information.