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!



Mobility and Course Communications: Bb Connect

Eric Kunnen, Grand Rapids Community College
Kerri Reese, Jacksonville State University


  • About 40% of undergrads are non-traditional
  • Students don’t read emails!
  • Faculty need to be more confident that their message is reaching their students

Jacksonville State University is a four year public academically focused insitution in Northeast Alabama. They have about 9,500 students, 86% of those are undergraduates. 65% of their students are 18-24 years old. 68% are full time students.

Grand Rapids Community College is a community college in Grand Rapids, Michigan. About 17,000 students attend GRCC. There are 200-300 full time faculty and 600-800 adjunct faculty. There are two campus locations as well as a number of regional centers. There is a lot of mobility on the campus – everyone commutes – and some faculty and students attend courses at more then one location.

Connect for Learn lets instructors send emails, text messages, and text-to-voice messages to students.


  • In the first semester at JSO, over 1500 messages went out to students about their grades in just one semester.
  • Students are highly focused to get immediate feedback from their instructors.
  • There was a jump in usage in students updating their profiles and their contact information to take advantage of Connect.
  • To help with the implementation, Kerri helped faculty linked the Connect information into their courses.
  • Additionally, they utilized step-by-step instructions and short video tutorials to help students set-up their profiles.
  • If you want to eliminate 9 million questions about how to set-up a proctored test – send a text!
  • A promotion plan was created with web pages, promo videos, flyers and table tens, faculty PowerPoint and email templates as well.


  • A custom building block is used to allow students to easily opt-in to course notifications and enter their mobile number.
  • Recently, GRCC updated it to add the ability for students to add their home phone number as well.
  • Students are able to updated their mobile phone number at anytime using the custom building block.

Options for setting Bb Connect up

  • At JSU students log into Blackboard access their profile and go into their profile and edit their preferences.
  • At GRCC, students use the same screens, but are given a quicker way to get to the mobile phone preferences area.

Faculty Response

  • There is a high level of interest and response from faculty.
  • After sending an initial message about the new tool, there were lots of questions generated as to how it works and what they need to do to get the word out to their students.
  • JSU started at the beginning of the spring semester and the beginning of the fall semester.
  • There is a high adoption rate among online professors in particular.
  • The integration of the system within the course makes it so easy for faculty to communicate using this system – as long as students have opted-in.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Try to get the communication out to faculty in as many avenues as possible: newsletters, kickoff meetings, department meetings, emails, via text message.
  • Make the tool as effortless and indispensable for faculty. e.g. Three clicks to sending out notification to students.
  • It is a one screen workflow for faculty to send messages, so it is very fast and right in their Blackboard course.

Survey Results from GRCC:

  • 62% of students have signed up for automated notification such as new grades have been posted.
  • 59% of students who have not signed up yet did not know about the tool. Only 3% do not see the value.

At JSU it also works with Connect MNS

  • Students get a Connect phone call when there is an emergency on campus or their bill is due.
  • All other outreach communications are sent as text messages.

The Future of Notifications for Learn

  • Course notifications are now available for Learn 9.1 customers on SP9 at no additional cost.
  • Students can received automated text and text-to-speech messages.
  • Starting in August, a new two-way SMS tool will be launched. You can create a dialogue with students and have them text back!
  • To find out more, text NOTIFICATION to 97178
  • You lose text-to-speech, but gain the two-way functionality.
  • The building block is entirely free, but you do have to buy text message packages.