Tuesday, July 12, 2016

DevCon 2016 Day 1 in Review (#BbWorld16)

Blackboard, Inc's 2016 DevCon had a great first day!  Everyone was quickly and happily moving through the Registration process.  If they didn't have the mobile app already loaded, attendees were quickly advised to do so.

This year Bb used doubledutch.me for their mobile app. It is by far the best conference app provided, since I have been attending.  It is easy to install and one can quickly get to networking with other attendees. One short coming that people are talking about is the fact the app doesn't show personally added meetings or appointments, that many had added on the conference website. While the app does sync with your personal calendar, so one can use your own calendar to keep track of things...this defeats the purpose of depending on the app. While others don't have any problems with the app, some have needed to restart their phones to unfreeze the app or uninstall and reinstall to make the app load. This can quickly get frustrating and stair people away from the app. My personal issue with the app is that it won't connect to my twitter account under my profile. I have tried for 3 days to get it to "authorize" but I get nothing but a flicker on the screen and then pushed back to my profile. Yet, I can easily login to twitter on the Twitter Feed link. The local conference app support person is unable to assist and the doubledutch.me support has at this time only asked for my phone type. This means my post in the app aren't shared on twitter, so I have to post in both places which has greatly decreased by conference tweeting.

Bb provided a continental breakfast for DevCon attendees, some would have preferred a more formal breakfast. To be honest, I don't really recall a formal breakfast at DevCon on the first day before.   The opening session of DevCon (aka: Technology State of Union) was very informative and truly set the tone for the day. Peter George provided a great insight into what is happening on the development side and some of Bb's future plans. While plans change, currently Bb plans to higher approximately 200 engineers. If they follow through, clients could be seeing product advancement and fixes at a higher quality and in a shorter period. Mike Sharkey was informative and very short ... considering he is an analytics guy.

Learning Analytics, Data Science, LTI Building Blocks, and the RESTful API were the major topics of the day.  These presentations were excellent and very informative. The lunch was a little strange as it did not seem like the selected foods blended well. Even with that the food was still yummy, especially the desserts. Lunch is always a great time to get to know people and to chat with Blackboard staff. There seems to be a large number of first time attendees this year.

I enjoyed the presentation by John Sonmez on "softskills". While addressed to software developers the suggestions John provided can really be applied to everyone in any field. You know you are going to be in a fun session, when the presenter lets you scream to get things started. I was lucky enough to win one of his books and will follow his advise of "take action". The evening ended with an 80's themed party with pinball,  video games, and good food. Everyone seemed to be having fun!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Gen Zs Set to Speak at #BbWorld16

Generation Z who are also known as Gen Z or iGeneration, are people who were born after the Millennials. Generally, people are considered part of Gen Z if they were born between 1995/6 and 2012 and are just starting to become the focus to marketers. This generation is more digital savvy than the Millennials brought social media to its heights and helped shape it, but Gen Zs do not know a world without social media. Gen Zs live more in the moment (Snapchat, Periscope, & Kik), appear to care less about their own praise and more about telling a story, they like to keep things simple and short (emojis). Dainel Burns, a Technology Futurist states Gen Zs are "turning their back on TV, email and the fake world of celebrity, idealistic millennials embrace the sharing economy as many will continue to steer clear of owning a car or their own home. This will increasingly impact the economy ..." (2016). According to Laurence Benhamou "25 percent of the Generation Z in France would choose the most "fun" company, 22 percent the most innovative and 21 percent the most ethical" (2015). Marketing departments need to keep in mind that Gen Z is different from Millennials in respect that they are more pragmatic, cautious, money conscious, more face-to-face, less notices, more global, less educated, more individualistic,  more tech dependent, less parented, early starters, disruptive, less focused, and split-tasking; yet they are similar in respects of short tenure, personal responsibility, company skepticism, development focused, mentor seeking, and difference makers (Jenkins, 2015).

Gen Zs do not believe that one size fits all, which is where educators need to start listening and focusing more on individualized learning designs. According to Vanderbilt University Gen Zs love a good challenge and recognition for success (2016). Interestingly, the oldest of this generation are barely out of high school (Wiiliams, 2015) higher education is still promoting designing course engagement around what Millennials want not what Gen Zs expect. This generation does embrace ebooks and online learning, but they also want textbooks, their learning activities to be more global, and meaningful.

“Kids are witnessing start-up companies make it big instantly via social media,” said Andrew Schoonover, a 15-year-old in Olathe, Kan. “We do not want to work at a local fast-food joint for a summer job. We want to make our own business because we see the lucky few who make it big.” (Williams, 2015). This shift from Millennials to Gen Zs is not only hard for businesses, but for educators, but they need to act quickly because Gen Zs are moving at lightening speeds.

Blackboard Inc recognizes the world changing Generation Z and is all ears to hearing from Gen Zs. Attendees to at their International Educational Technology conference, known as BbWorld, in July will have an opportunity to hear two Gen Z presenters. Jonah Stillman, a 16-year old high school student who has conducted national surveys about Gen Zs and is a nationally ranked snowboarder who has partnered with his Gen X dad to present how to prepare for Gen Z by sharing what makes Gen Zs tick. They will be presenting in the Higher Education track on Wednesday, Jul 13, 11:35 AM - 12:25 PM. You can learn more about Jonah on the GenZGuru website at http://genzguru.com/.  The second Gen Z to present at BbWorld is Rachel Stange, who is a 14-year old high school student who has already received several academic awards (including starting collage at the age of 13) and is already Microsoft Certified. Rachel will be presenting on how Bb Learn allowed her to turn a scholarship challenge into a global education opportunity for elementary age kids on nutrition, while giving her the opportunity to educate her educators on technology tools to better engage her generation. Rachel will be presenting in the K12 track on Thursday, July 14 8:30 AM - 9:20 AM, with her Gen X mom. While one a polished speaker and one is a new to the speaking circuit, both presentations are sure to enlighten you on Generation Z.

By the way, BbWorld16 attendees just in case you do not know, you can create a personalized agenda now and soon will be accessible using the BbWorld mobile app by following the steps:
  1. Log in to your account.
  2. Browse sessions, filtering by track, market, or role
  3. Add them to your schedule.

Benhamou, L. (2015). Everything you need to know about Generation Z. http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-generation-z-born-in-the-digital-age-2015-2.

BbWorld & Devcon. (2016).  Sessions. http://bbworld.com/bbworld/sessions/.

Burns, D. (2016).  Gen Z Will Change Your World Again. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-burrus/gen-z-will-change-your-wo_b_9150214.html.

Jenkins, R. (2015) 15 Aspects That Highlight How Generation Z Is Different From Millennials. 

Vanderbilt University. (2016). How to get the most from Millennial and Generation Z Employees. http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2016/06/how-to-get-the-most-from-millennial-and-generation-z-employees/.

Williams, A. (2015). Move Over, Millennials, Here Comes Generation Z. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/20/fashion/move-over-millennials-here-comes-generation-z.html?_r=0.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

One Unique Session at #BbWorld16, Don't miss it!

On the Blackboard (Bb) blog page, you will find Scott Hurrey's must see list for IT and Academic sessions at BbWorld this year. Scott's list focuses on deep product/tool dives, analytics, integration, and best practices. Check it out at http://blog.blackboard.com/must-see-it-academic-track-sessions-bbworld-2016/.

Darcy Hardy, Bb Associate Vice President Enterprise Consulting, recommended the following faculty sessions in an email sent out:

  1. “A new way to enhance teaching and learning from the student perspective”—Gail Gallo, Director of Computer Services' Instructional Support and Technology Training, Temple University
  2. “Innovative use of Blackboard: rank and tenure review”—Steven Sumner, Associate Professor, University of San Diego
  3. “The Dream Dozen: 12 features and resources to enhance the Blackboard experience for you and your students”—Tammy Jolley, Client Success Advocate, Blackboard
  4. “Creating a digital academy as a transitional resource from race-to-face to blended instruction”—Mary Jane Blystone, Blackboard Administrator, Drake University
  5. “Higher education Rocket Sessions for faculty and instructional designers: interesting stories, FAST!”—Seven stories from seven institutions
You will be able to see other options by clicking the Faculty Track sessions on the BbWorld website.

Rachel Presenting Old School lecture methodOne session that I highly recommend for K-12 teachers and also believe would be good for Higher Education faculty to attend is the "Blackboard - The Minds Nutrition".  The session descriptions states that an unique approach to utilizing Blackboard Learn for K-12 students wanting to make their mark on the world. This high school student's goal was  to help educate younger kids on nutrition beyond her local town, combined with Blackboard Learn's cohesive tool set achieved this teen's goal. Blackboard Learn provided a free and "safe one stop classroom" that combines Blackboard Learn tools and third party applications like SoftChalk. Teachers, students, parents along with age appropriate lessons, smart views, building blocks, email, videos, games, and digital badges have built this student's teaching tool. An unintentional but beneficial opportunity for this student's K-12 community was to see Blackboard as more than just a grade and test repository, while exposing the student to the challenges her teachers face in integrating technology into the classroom.

Old school to digitalIn addition to a discussion on why Bb's Coursesites product was selected over Google Classroom, Edline (Engage), and Canvas. Hear how her use of Bb Learn as a dual-enrolled student influenced her selection. This high school freshman will provide insight into her approach on digital peer review of her developed classroom and how her project has affected her teachers in a positive way. Additionally, there will be a brief discussion on the Youth Awareness Program that started her on this adventure and how every high school teacher at #BbWorld can participate to help students to earn scholarship money each year in high school. If you have a high school student at home, you will want to attend this session to find out how to get your child on the scholarship path that money don't take advantage of. Higher Education faculty could also see how to possibly incorporate the use of Bb Coursesites into course projects or even as a way to get students thinking about sharing their knowledge with the community to help improve the world. Lesson's learned, continuation plan, and changes to the approach for her next adventure the Girl Scout Gold Award. While rumor has it that Blackboard Inc. may be considering discontinuing Coursesites, this youth presenter hopes that they will come to her session to see why that would not be a good idea.

My role on this presentation was only as a technical advisor and to answer questions like "can Bb do?", "where do I find?", and  "why don't teachers use this?" I have to admit, I was surprised when she told me she decide to let more people hear about technology from a high school freshman's point of view by submitting a presentation to BbWorld. I was even more shocked when I saw the level of discussions between her and Blackboard staff, then she told me that they had accepted her presentation. Many Ed. Tech. companies would have rejected the proposal on her age alone. Instead Bb proved they are a student centered and student focused company.  Though the session schedulers are challenging her by scheduling her session early in the morning, which goes against research findings that high school students do better starting later.

Please consider putting this session on your BbWorld16 schedule for Thursday, July 14 at 8:30a in Titian 2305-2306.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

FREE Professional Development From Blackboard

1111 19th Street NW | Washington | DC | 20036

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

#Bb clients selected an exciting line-up within #BBWorld16 faculty track

Announcing an exciting line-up...

The Faculty Track at BbWorld 2016 focuses on the intersection of technology and pedagogy: arming you with the technical know-how as well as instructional design best practices.

Join Blackboard and your peers for three exciting days spent tackling the topics that matter most to you, including:

  • "How to" workshops using Blackboard tools
  • Fostering student engagement
  • Competency-based education
  • Accessibility in your online courses
  • Incorporating gamification
…and more. You can view them at http://bbworld.com/bbworld/sessions/?bbworldtrack[]=Higher%20Ed-%20Faculty&.

With sessions shaped by former attendee feedback, we're confident that this year's line-up will leave you with a clearer vision of what’s best for you—and more importantly, how to go about executing it.

Start planning your BbWorld 2016 experience

Choose from a wide range of sessions, and tailor your BbWorld experience to your specific objectives.

I hope to see you there!