BbWorld Conference Recap and Reuters Article
As you may be aware, the annual BbWorld conference (www.bbworld.com) took place last week. This event provides Blackboard clients across the globe the opportunity to learn about what’s going on at Blackboard, to network with peers and Subject Matter Experts, to ask questions and find answers, and more. Three members of the Open SUNY team attended the BbWorld conference, and we had the opportunity to present two sessions, co-faciliate the annual SUNY and Blackboard meeting, and meet with a majority of the Blackboard Executive Leadership to discuss their future direction(s) in greater detail.
The major takeaway from this conference is that Blackboard is still continuing to work on their New Learning Experience (NLE). The NLE is:
- More than just a new interface to the Learning Management System (a.k.a., Ultra).
- A rethinking of the entire learning environment across multiple devices (i.e., phones, tablets, laptops / desktops, etc.) and multiple platforms (i.e., LMS, Collaborate, Bb Grader, etc.)
Unlike the previous two years where Blackboard discussed the new User Experience / Interface, the major difference is the NLE is now available for users to request a preview / trial. If you are interested in requesting access to the NLE, you can do so by signing up at try.blackboard.com.
Prior to BbWorld, the new Collaborate product was released which is an example of how the solutions in the NLE will look and work. A major change with the NLE is how the Blackboard solutions will be offered and hosted. At this time, the NLE solutions are only available as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering using public-cloud technologies. In addition, Blackboard will be moving towards user-centric mobile applications. Specifically, Bb Grader will be enhanced to become the Bb Instructor app and the release strategy is for tablets first. The Bb Student app release strategy is for mobile phones first. Blackboard Executive Leadership clearly stated they are committed to Blackboard Learn 9.1, and this solution will continue to be available. If you were unable to attend the BbWorld conference and would like to see some of the information that has been made available, you can visit www.bbworldlive.com.
On Tuesday, July 28, 2015, Reuters released the “Exclusive: Education company Blackboard seeks $3 billion sale – sources” article (http://reut.rs/1exyWDd). As anticipated, this article has caused a stir in the SUNY and larger Blackboard client community. We are actively working towards gaining a deeper understanding of the impact on the Blackboard product and strategic directions and its potential impacts on SUNY. We have a meeting scheduled with Blackboard early next week where are seeking to learn more detail if available. We will also try to use this time to work on scheduling a meeting with Blackboard Executive Leadership, if additional information and insights are not yet available to us.
In light of the major takeaways from BbWorld and the Reuters article, we are hoping to hear from your campus so we can continue to ensure the SUNY and Blackboard partnership meets your campus needs. Specifically, we are looking to understand your campus direction for continuing to use the Blackboard Learning Management System(s). Please consider the following questions:
- Is your campus interested in staying on Blackboard Learn 9.1? If so, for how long?
- Is your campus interested in moving to the NLE? If so, is there a general time frame in mind?
- Is your campus considering evaluating other Learning Management System solution(s) and/or provider(s)?
- Is there any specific information you would like to share?
To provide this information, or ask any questions, please reach out to Doug Cohen directly at or via phone at 518.320.1655.
Associate Director, Academic Technology Services
Open SUNY / Academic Technologies and Information Services
The State University of New York
State University Plaza – Albany, New York 12246
Tel: 518.320.1655 Fax: 518.320.1554
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Engage with Open SUNY: http://open.suny.edu
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