Esther Jubb gives us the lowdown on the recent Blackboard World conference
In early 2016, without actually expecting to be accepted to the conference, I put in a presentation proposal to the Blackboard World 2016 Conference in Las Vegas. The presentation planned to talk about the changes and developments that we have been working on in relation to our use of Blackboard during the last 18 months. In the background, many of the changes that we have been working on is an Exemplary Course Programme and the presentation proposal was to discuss how we were using the rubric that supports this programme to identify and drive much of our work. Having been accepted to the conference and being briefed on how the panel session would run I packed my suitcase and flew 10 hours to Las Vegas.
Blackboard World is a very large conference 3000 plus delegates, large expo hall with lots of learning technology vendors keen to talk to you about your learning technology needs (and to give you free gifts; caps, charging cables, t-shirts, bottle openers…) parallel sessions that start at 8:15am and finish at 6:00pm, additional workshops and keynote sessions and lots of opportunities to indulge the geeky side of your personality.
Despite some wicked jetlag I attended a whole variety of sessions. My first session was an interesting presentation from Charles Darwin University on Developing an Integrated Student Learning Universe; putting students at the centre of all technology developments and taking a 3 layer approach:
- Learner engagement needs
- Learner facing systems
- Underlying technology architecture
I also attended a session from Johns Hopkins University on their approach to supporting staff new to teaching fully online distance learning programmes. My favourite session, in terms of making me think about my role at the university and how we better make use of learning technology, was run by staff from IBM on design thinking. Not only was this an introduction to something new….it was an interactive session where we started to engage with the approach of design thinking.
Youtube video quick overview Design Thinking:
Youtube video Tim Brown (creator of design thinking) talking about Design Thinking:
Part of the problem with such a large conference is that it is difficult to choose between 10 different sessions in any one parallel slot and not every session lives up to the description so you then feel that you’ve wasted a valuable session! My overall reflections on the conference were, that although we do have plenty of work to do in our use of learning technology, we are heading in the right direction; ensuring that the student experience is consistent and what we promise them, using the affordances of the technology to support the learning that our students need to prepare them for their future aspirations, and getting the most out of our learning technologies. Finally, how did my presentation go? There were about 60 people the room, the feedback was excellent with all those who provided feedback saying that they thought the session was useful to them, which is what you want to achieve from talking about the interesting and exciting things that you’re doing.
Dr Esther Jubb, AQD