Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blackboard World 2012: Closing Keynote by Salman Khan of Khan Academy

This inspirational closing keynote was by Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy, another of Time's Top 100 most influential people. With over three million users per month, Khan Academy is transforming learning. He provided insight into its evolution, and how we can rethink education.

Khan first made a name for himself by recording Youtube videos on mathematics for his cousin, which quickly went viral. As he says "No tutor would sit there and repeat the same thing 20 or 30 times but the videos let me do that without judgement."

Khan has produced over 3300 videos covering a wide spectrum of academic subjects, mainly with a focus on mathematics and the sciences. He has attracted more than 355,000 subscribers.

In the period of a few short months, he went from making videos in his closet to getting $2M from the Gates Foundation and $2M from Google. Khan videos are now available in multiple languages, even Mongolian - voice overs being produced by an army of dedicated volunteers.
Sal Kahn Keynote
Sketch notes by Gerren Lamson

Sal Kahn Keynote

Bb Client Appreciation Party

Another informative, inspirational and fun Blackboard World has come to an end - almost. Michael Chasen and friends know how to put on a great "client appreciation" party. Here's a teaser video from the party at Mardi Gras World:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Blackboard World 2012: Blackboard Corporate Keynote

Inspirational keynotes are great, but this was the one I anticipated the most. The Blackboard corporate keynote is typically the venue for announcing new cool educational technology. I was not disappointed.

Blackboard CEO, Michael Chasen, opened the corporate keynote with an entertaining animation on the active learner (see first 2 minutes). The complete (1 hr 15 min) keynote was just made available:

The real news, the highlight of the keynote, in my opinion, was the Chasen's announcement of a new ground breaking product... 

BBWorld Day3 (21 of 72)
Michael Chasen announces xpLor

Project XP: xpLor

XP stands for "cross-platform" and Lor stands for "learning object repository". Yes, finally a way for faculty content experts to share and consume modular learning objects - no matter what learning management system they use! Easily shareable cross-platform learning content has been the holy grail of learning technology for at least the 20+ years I've been in this business. I hope they succeed.

Chasen introduced David Mills (founder of ANGEL Learning) who has been quietly working on Project XP in his new role as the Chief Technology Officer at MoodleRooms (recently acquired by Blackboard).

Though the web app is still in alpha, David did a live demo of xpLor showing how faculty can search and instantly embed free learning objects from other sources (e.g, MIT, Stanford, Khan Academy) into his or her learning management system (Blackboard Learn, Sakai or Moodle). The system takes advantage of the IMS Common Cartridge and IMS Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standards to make it truly cross-platform. Of course, faculty can generate their own xpLor modules complete with tests that feed back to the host LMS gradebook. Will this make native LMS learning modules obsolete?

Chasen then introduced three of his division leaders, Ray Henderson, Katie Blot, and Kayvon Beykour who drummed even more excitement about Blackboard’s future.

Blackboard Learn Fundamentals

Ray Henderson, Chief Technology Officer and President of Academic Platforms, discussed recent advances and the future roadmap for Learn, Blackboard’s keystone education platform. Here are some of his announcements with links to more information:
  • New 2-Way SMS Platform (ConnectTxt is used by more than half of all colleges and universities in the UK)
  • McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Wiley, and Cengage learning content now fully integrated with Bb Learn
  • Improved support, cohort programs, new openness (LTI, Scorm, Oscelot, LIS, CAS, Common Cartridge), and transparency
  • Bb Learn innovations: improved global navigation, assessment insight, and item analysis in SP8; enterprise surveys (free), text messaging in SP10
  • Bb Analytics for Learn: new dashboards for improved decision making
  • Bb Collaborate v12 will improve integration, including grade book, and support mobile delivery
  • Bb Social: social learning coming in the fall for FREE with Community module! Stream status, Spaces (clubs etc) very cool. 

BbWorld Corporate Keynote
Sketch notes by Gerren Lamson 

Bb New Professional Services

Katie Blot, President of Global Services Division, presented on new professional services aimed at expanding program and course development, marketing, and student lifecycle support services.

Bb Mobile Showcase

Kayvon Beykpour, General Manager of Blackboard Mobile and founder of Terribly Clever Design, showcased some great new capabilities in the Blackboard Mobile Learn and Mobile Central offerings:
  • Mobile Central enhancements to maps include augmented reality
  • Mobile Learn enhancements include mobile assessments 
  • Usage and analytics are now available via reporting tools in Mobile
  • Push notifications were also recently released to provide more timely notifications
  • Bb announces an End User License option for students to purchase a $1.99 1 year license or an unlimited license at $5.99
BbWorld Corporate Keynote
Sketch notes by Gerren Lamson
Exciting news all around for Blackboard users and even users of open-source LMS's such as Moodle and Sakai. Stay tuned for a lot more on xpLor!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blackboard World 2012: Opening Keynote by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski

It was hot and steamy in New Orleans, but the gigantic mile long, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center was freezing. I was immersed in both at this years Bb World, the fiery historic city and the cool technology expose. Maybe that's why I came home with a miserable summer cold.

As one of the official Bb World Bloggers invited to cover the largest Blackboard World yet, I tweeted and took notes during the three keynote sessions. I'll cover each keynote in a separate post. (My main focus will be on the Blackboard Corporate Keynote.)

The opening keynote was given by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, President of University of Maryland, Baltimore County. This man has an incredible life story and numerous honors. He was on President Obama's short list for Secretary of Education in 2008. Time Magazine rated him as one of the Top 10 College Presidents and as one of the 100 most influential people in the world this year.

As expected, he gave a rousing keynote. He tells stories rather than talking about concepts. One story reminded us about the days when student orientation began with “look to the left, now look to the right, one of you will NOT graduate.” He challenged us all to innovate and as an example showed a video of one of UM Baltimore's impressive "flipped" science classrooms. He implored us to talk about success rather than just access to education and say “look to the left, now look to the right, our goal is that all three of you will graduate.”

Here are some wonderful info-graphics that sum up the keynote...
BbWorld Keynote - Dr Freeman Hrabowski

BbWorld Keynote - Dr Freeman Hrabowski
Sketch notes by Gerren Lamson