BbWorld 2010 – Conference Notes

The following are my notes from the BbWorld conference.

BbWorld 2010

Orlando, Florida
Gayloard Palms
July 13-16, 2010

Here are a few conference resources:

Conference Notes:

Keynote Speaker: Greg Mortenson

Greg Mortenson is the bestselling author of "Three Cups of Tea" and he is an education activist and advocate.

Session Description:

Greg Mortenson – bestselling author, education activist and advocate – will serve as the event’s opening keynote speaker. In Three Cups of Tea,Greg tells about how his failed attempt to climb Pakistan’s K2 in 1993 brought him to a village in a remote mountain region of Pakistan where he observed students writing their school lessons with sticks. From that experience, Greg has dedicated his life to promoting education and literacy programs, especially for girls, in remote mountain regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. An advocate for education, Greg co-founded the nonprofit Central Asia Institute, an organization that promotes education in regions where there are few or no opportunities. He also launched the Pennies for Peace campaign, which educates students on the positive impact they can have – on a global scale – by donating one penny at a time, opening doors to literacy in impoverished countries. To date, Mortenson has established or significantly supported 131 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which provide education to over 58,000 children – including 48,000 girls – where few education opportunities have existed before. His most recent book, Stones into Schools also debuted on the New York Times bestseller list.


  • Michael Chasen
    • Introduction and welcome
    • More than 2,000 in attendance
    • Best selling author
    • Building educational opportunities to children in Afghanistan where none existed before
  • Greg Mortenson
    • Begin with 10 minute DVD/video on the struggles of education in Afghanistan
      • Afghanistan has denied women education until 2001
      • Peace through education
      • March 12, 2002 in Kabul area school project
      • Seeking out remote cities for building schools where classes were actually being held in 8 truck trailers
      • There are land mines all over the area
      • Desire for education and the desire for security are often competing values
      • 2006 there was an explosion near the school and killed a very promising student
      • 5% talk with an elder in the US but in Afghanistan 90% learn from elders
      • Children in Afghanistan spend time with the elders learning about the history
      • Three cups of tea – first cup stranger, second cup friend, third cup you are family
      • Modern day slavery is real
      • The book was read by General Petraeus who is currently leading Afghanistan front – 3 points, 1) listen more and looking at another perspective, 2) respect not just honoring but humility and service for others, 3) build relationships
      • We are linked today by the internet, but on the other hand we don’t really have the understanding or knowledge of each area – culture/languages/etc.
      • Traditional Afghan authority has changed significantly, education is very important and elders have to be empowered – "there is no military solution in Afghanistan" – the key is to listen to the elders and empower them.
      • His father started Kilimanjaro Christian Medial Center in 1971 in Tanzania and in doing so his father suggested to have the hospital run by local, not Westerners.
      • "What makes a difference is not helping people but empowering them." – Greg Mortenson
      • Failure = "When it is dark – you can see the stars"
      • Greg has spent 17 years in rural Afghanistan
      • Men often leave the town to find work and leave behind the women.
      • Often students in rural areas draw in the sand with sticks or sometimes there are a few slates that are written on with white chalky mud
      • Poverty – Only way to solve is we have touch, taste, smell, and experience it. We can’t solve it with a think tank we need to get out and serve with the people.
      • "Pennies for Peace" kids learn how to get involved and experience culture and an example of kids getting involved in serving the community is the "Little Red Wagon Foundation" (Project of an 8 year old boy that raises funds and awareness about street kids in the USA.)
      • Community needs to provide more resources to schools.
      • Education and literacy needs to be top priority and we need to make the education of girls a priority.
      • Bad News – In the last 3 years Taliban has shutdown the majority 2,100 of GIRL schools. "The pen is mightier than the sword." The education of girls impacts the culture as girls tend to education their moms and children.
      • We need to serve with humility not with arrogance.
      • The fight against terrorism is with education. This will bring peace, tolerance, prosperity.
      • We don’t want our babies to die we want them to go to school. Women nurture life and are powerful promoters of education in society.
      • "Make wise the fools" – Education and literacy is key.
      • "Even if the world ends tomorrow I will plant my seed today" – Martin Luther King Jr.
      • We can make a difference together, and you all are in my thoughts and prayers. Thanks and have a great convention!


Blackboard Corporate Keynote


Michael L. Chasen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Blackboard

Ray Henderson, President, Blackboard Learn

Session Description:

Michael Chasen, President and CEO of Blackboard and Ray Henderson, President of Blackboard Learn, will present the annual corporate keynote address at BbWorld® 2010. Together they will discuss a range of product, support and organizational changes Blackboard has undertaken in response to key client needs. They’ll also talk about the company’s overall efforts to improve the experience of clients and users of education technology, including the Blackboard’s openness initiatives and work to lead the development of open standards in e-learning. Michael and Ray will also highlight two important new solutions – including the company’s innovative new mobile platform for education and Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1.


  • Michael Chasen Opening
    • 1,800 clients 600 institution from 20 countries , 70 partners, 300 partner attendees, and over 200 Bb staff
    • From Good to Gooder or Good to Marginally Better than Good or Good to Great? 🙂 Need to set the high bar and it’s about the path of getting there.
    • Changes in the last few months and year.
      • Innovations going forward with the product line.
      • Company began as web based teaching and learning with "Blackboard learn" and now has more than 20 million users, "Blackboard transact" 4 million users, "Blackboard connect" 5,000 19 million people received messages, "Blackboard mobile" 100 institutions are deploying mobile technology, "Blackboard collaborate" Elluminate and Wimba = Bb Collab 2,700 institutions and 6 million users
      • SENA in Columbia trained 2.5 million people through Blackboard.
      • Fairfox County Public Schools Blackboard system is one of the top Google search terms in the DC area.
      • University of Alabama 200,000 tickets at sporting events with "Bb transact"
      • 101 million text messages were (78 million for American Idol) sent last year.
      • Stanford has had 60,000 downloads of their Bb mobile application. (3x the total population of the school – parents/alumni/others)
      • Florida Virtual held 100,000 collaboration sessions with their students during last 12 months.
    • Purpose of BbWorld is to share stories, best practices, etc.
    • Ray has had a profound influence on Bb, support has improved, quality of products, [Video on "School" at Bb Inc.] 😉
    • Road Ahead
      • Social Learning
      • Product Influence (WebCT & ANGEL)
      • Learning Content Integration
      • Collaboration
      • Mobile
    • Demo
      • Mobile learn on module, twitter feed, Bb help, NBC archives, Subscribe to content (share on twitter, facebook, rss, email)
      • Consortium catalog (multi-institution architecture with cover flow navigation)
      • Course, at a glance, what’s new, announcements, customize themes and stylesheets, mashups, course overview/standards, integration with McGraw Hill’s online content seamless, Barnes and Noble and Follet (Scribe) select passages and send back to course as well.
      • Collaboration, inline connection with Wimba/Elluminate embedded
      • Grade Center, includes colors, and you can see which students are online now and launch Pronto
      • Live chat links to Pronto to collaborate across the institution.
      • Mobile, app for iPhone/iPad and Android and Blackberry, blogs, announcements, content, grades
      • Mobile Central for Campus, iStanford course catalog, add/drop courses, schedule, campus maps and busing GPS tracking, events and read about and add the event to the calendar [iPad video]
  • Ray Henderson
    • It’s been a good year, we’ve learned a lot.
    • "It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen." – John Wooden
    • Don’t take your focus from the fundamentals – these will sustain you.
    • Fundamentals
      • Client support
        • 7 day improvement on close rates +27%, 30 day improvement +25%, client satisfaction +10%
      • Transparency
        • Blogs (patent news, mobile pricing, collaboration acquisition), press (inside highered, chronicle), community (user groups)
        • Visits to campus and local or regional conferences or meetings.
      • Openness
        • Common cartridge with LTI and Leadership (no longer observers in this space but leaders), for version 9.1 we will ship by end of this year.
        • Open Database, access/enable/share, 9.1 SP1 has an open database.
      • Quality
        • 3x the resources on improving the quality, and the benefit of sharing notes among WebCT/Blackboard/Angel.
          • Build up resources and reserve for after release. This area has been tripled.
          • Service packs every 60 to 90 days will now be faster.
          • Bug squads have been set up to include end users and clients into crowdsourcing the common issues. "Innovation applied to method and practice."
      • Extra Credit
        • Wimba + Elluminate = Blackboard collaborate (a new equation for collaboration)
          • Confluence of 3 trends (growth in distance education, student convenience, social media and it’s impact on responsiveness, the expectation is about sharing your information about your presence (WIMBA PRONTO), student engagement and motivation and stronger learning outcomes.
    • The Big Thing
      • Over 800 in production with 9.1. (About 100 came from WebCT.)
      • Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but what you should have accomplished with your ability." – John Wooden
      • The best days are in front of us!
    • [Video on Bug Squashing] 😉

Session: Maximize Usability and Minimize Frustration: Integrating the Content System Into the User Community Effectively

Speakers: John DiGennaro, Manager of Educational Technology Services, Baldwin-Wallace College Matt Hadgis, Multimedia Specialist, Baldwin-Wallace College

Session Description: Baldwin-Wallace College effectively integrated the Blackboard Content System by focusing faculty on use cases; creating a custom tab design that reduced the number of clicks; embedding search and custom help files; and channeling faculty to appropriate tool sets. You will see how these innovative tab and module designs increased our Blackboard Content System use, usability and efficiency. We will provide you with all the examples for your immediate use.


  • Excellent use of custom html and modules to display howto, tutorials, and provide end users with direct access to the content system.

Action Analytics Bird of a Feather Session


  • Good discussion with several colleges on how to leverage data to improve student retention. Starfish Early Alert was used by several of the colleges in attendance.

Access CaféScribe Digital Textbooks from Blackboard Learn

Speakers: Isabella Hinds, Director, Digital Content, Follett Higher Education & Bryce Johnson, CafeScribe Co-Creator and eText Product Strategist, Follett Higher Education

Session Description: You can help instructors and students enhance their course experiences in Blackboard Learn through Follett’s free new CaféScribe Blackboard Building Block. Enable them to access from their course environment CaféScribe’s collection of thousands of digital textbooks with advanced features such as annotating, note sharing and social networking functionality. They also can publish their own course materials to CaféScribe. And you’ll help them save trees, as well. We’ll share success stories from Brigham Young University, Florida State College of Jacksonville, and DeVry Online. Join us to learn more.


  • Very nice system for sharing and collaboration with electronic text.
  • Need to investigate Building Block integration further.

Project ASTRO – Reporting Success Stories and the Next Phase

Speakers: Patrick D. Crispen, Educational Program Designer, University of Southern California & Rob Gibson, Associate Chief Information Officer for Academic Technology, Emporia State University & Eric Kunnen, Director of Distance Learning and Instructional Technologies, Grand Rapids Community College & Daniel Szabo, Technical eLearning Specialist, Seneca College

Session Description: This panel discussion will highlight several institutions that are using Project ASTRO on their production systems. Each institution will describe how Project ASTRO is being used to make data driven decisions for reporting, advocacy, targeted messaging, ROI, and more! The session will end with a review of the next phase of the Project ASTRO roadmap.


Available Here

Using NBC News Videos in Blackboard Learn to Enliven Instruction and Increase Student Engagement

Speakers: Adam Jones, Senior Vice President, Business Development, NBC News & Eric Kunnen, Director of Distance Learning and Instructional Technologies, Grand Rapids Community College

Session Description: We will demonstrate how Grand Rapids Community College uses the NBC News Blackboard Building Block in Blackboard Learn to access NBC News Archives on Demand and bring relevant, engaging multimedia content into the classroom.


Available Here



About ekunnen
Eric has a passion for, works to lead, support, and coordinate effective uses of technology in teaching and learning. He is an Associate Director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Allendale, Michigan. His primary role focuses on collaborating and supporting distance learning initiatives at the university while exploring future trends in emerging technologies in teaching and learning. He also collaborates to research and support academic technologies used in the classroom and in eLearning. Previously, Eric was the Emerging Technologies Coordinator at GVSU and a Director of Distance Learning and Instructional Technologies at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Eric has a background in teaching Computer Science and Biology at the secondary level and a Master of Arts in Education with an emphasis in Educational Technology. I'm on mission to advance teaching and learning through the integration of emerging and innovative instructional technologies... More

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