Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Blackboard Integration News Rolls Out Before BbWorld!

Bb announce the availability of the SchoolChapters Partner Cloud integration for the Blackboard LearnTM 9.1 platform, Service Packs 10 and above. SchoolChapters is a portable, outcomes and standards based ePortfolio that supports students throughout their entire learner life cycle - from Pre-K through Career.

Key Features
  • Deep integration with Blackboard Learn: Single sign-on, assignment synchronization and gradebook integration
  • Complete portability: Unlimited cloud-based storage and the ability to manage portfolios inside and outside of the LMS and post-graduation
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use interface: Sleek, modern display, easy uploading and tagging, ability to share on social networks and more
  • Anytime, anywhere access: Responsive design ensures a superior experience on any device and free mobile app enables offline management
  • Support for standards, rubrics and badges: Support for multiple assessment types, VALUE, imported and custom rubrics, and digital badges
  • Role-based access: Permission restrictions based on user type, context and relationship

Rich in student features, SchoolChapters provides institutions with one solution that easily aligns data to any outcome, standard or objective. Combined with advanced Blackboard Learn integration, the result is a highly-accessible data available for tracking, reporting and employability.

If you want to find out more visit them at or visit them during BbWorld in July. I have to admit I find this one interesting, since Blackboard (Bb) just purchased MyEdu which is an eportfolio system. So I will be visiting them during BbWorld to see what they are about.

NMC Horizon Report 2014 Higher Education Edition

Low digital fluency among faculty is one of the main challenges impeding the adoption of technology in higher education

EesySoft: Increase Blackboard Adoption

Despite the widespread agreement on the importance of technology to support teaching and learning, training in the supporting skills and techniques is still very rare in teacher education and there is very little understanding of how the available technology is currently being used by faculty across the institution.

This is why EesySoft has developed a Blackboard building block  to provides us with detailed reports to track and analyze the faculty use in our Blackboard environment. Allowing you to quickly identify areas of poor engagement or uncover best practice usage within your institution.

Additionally EesySoft software not only provides insight, but also allows targeted in-context communication to drive adoption, by promoting best practice, correct sub-optimal use and provide greater support to teaching staff in the use of the Blackboard VLE.

If you want more information visit their website at or their booth at BbWorld in July. Finally a product that will make it easy to validate my claims of use, without me having to write the code.  I just wonder if it comes with a steep price tag.

These are just two of the exhibitors listed to be at BbWorld this year. Check out the BbWorld website here for more details about the conference and exhibitors. 

EesySoft: Email received 4/16/2014

SchoolChapters: Email received on 4/16/2014 at 2:05p from The Blackboard and SchoolChapters Teams.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Two Steps Towards Textbook Reduction - New Horizons (#vccsnh14)

Today at the New Horizons Conference in Roanoke, Virginia I had the honor of talking about the two different ways Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) Information Systems Technology faculty took to reduce textbook cost to students for the Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 semesters. One step was more traditional (custom textbook w/bundling) and the others was more modern (open educational resources). These changes benefited over 700 students in the Fall of 2013 alone. I shared the totals savings , the pros & cons, a model of how to repeat each approach, and time frame to implement each approach. I discussed the in detail the approach and changes between semesters the OER approach. In closing, the future of ITE 115 OER section, OER at LFCC, and OER grant opportunity within the Virginia Community College System (VCCS).

As promised below is my presentation slides, also available on Youtube here.

Click here to view my notes pages for the presentations that contain resources and example details.

The links below are the items discussed during my presentation:
Here are some examples of resources that do not have a creative commons license:
Work for the VCCS and want to be part of the OER movement? Act fast because phase 2 applications are due by April 29, click here to learn more.

Feel free to contact me directly if you would like to actually see my course as has been improved or have any questions.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

2014 SLATE Conference's Call For Papers Is Out

Call for Papers for the 12th Annual SLATE Conference is now open.

2014 SLATE Conference
Call for Papers


12th Annual
SLATE Conference


Click to Submit Paper
SLATE is announcing an open Call for Papers for the 12th Annual SLATE Conference, being held on October 22-24, 2014 and hosted by Northern Illinois University at their regional campus/conference center in Naperville, IL.  Over the years more than 3000 people representing over 165 unique institutions from the Midwest, across the country, and around the world have attended this conference. Recognizing that deployment issues, support concerns, teaching strategies, learning styles, best practices, etc., are common among the varied CMS/LMS clients, this conference invites everyone that is deploying and/or currently using any Web-based tools in their teaching and learning to attend.

The SLATE/Moodle special interest group (SIG) was well represented last year and we hope to have an even greater attendance this year.  So submit your session papers today to fill out the track.  Submission deadline:  June 30, 2014

If you have any question please contact us for additional information.


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Speakers Wanted for Data Analytics & Infrastructure Conference

Do you have a great case study or advice to share in the areas of data management, data infrastructure or data analytics? If so, please consider applying to speak at our upcoming Data+ conference taking place September 7-9, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix in Phoenix, Arizona.
Deadline for Submission: Monday, April 14 at 5pm PST/8pm EST

Submit now at:

The Data+ conference is the defining event for IT and business leaders to understand the latest strategies for leveraging Big Data in their organization, from data management to analytics for their business. It is the only event providing a holistic view of all the technologies involved in a data strategy, from making data available quickly, efficiently and affordably to cleansing and connecting it to selected analytics and visualization tools, then driving new business insights and products from those efforts.

Presenter Requirements:
·       Submissions must feature an end-user case study/deployment or an industry analyst perspective.
·       Presentations must be vendor-neutral and commercial free.
·       Submission deadline is April 14, 2014.

View the categories and submit today at  F

or more information on the conference, please visit:, and follow them on Twitter at @DataPlusConf. 

NOTE: Based on email received 4/8. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Have you heard these words " .. Cannot Afford BbWorld This Year"?

With so many of our institutions going through budget overhauls and everyone trying to do more for less, a few colleagues have said they are not sure that they will be able to go to the premier BbWorld conference in July. They are hearing the common words, "we just cannot afford BbWorld this year." or "what is my return on investment (ROI)?" or "why did they pick Vegas, let's wait till it is closer".

Hopefully, you will find some of the resources listed below useful in addressing the statements above and getting approval to attend.
  1. Show you are trying to save your institution money by:
    1. Submit a presentation proposal - you get a discounted rate & it is harder to say no when you (& the institution name) has been selected to present. 
    2. Register by May 15 to take advantage of the Early Bird rate
    3. Search for cheapest air fare & consider using BillMeLater to defer payment for up to six months
    4. Watch Bb Social Media & Blog for announcements about conference "contest" and enter them all to try and win free or discounted registration. 
    5. Consider offering to pay of something like meals on travel days or not take mileage, to show you believe in the conference and the institution. 
  2. Continuing Education Credit (CEUs) - Hopefully, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) will again offer BbWorld attendees CEU credits. Explain they are getting professional development and conference attendance for one price. 
  3. Remind them that technology allows you to remote in and provide support virtually at all the breaks, before & after sessions, in the evening, and Bb encourages you to bring your mobile devices with you. 
  4. If you are an admin, you should install BbStats (on Oscelot) before coming to monitor your system easily. If you are faculty, you should install Bb Mobile Learn so you can quickly access your courses via your mobile device.
  5.  Maybe even ask your Bb Admin to install the Twitter and Facebook building blocks on Oscelot to have your post/tweets display to all your users or students. 
  6. Offer to make a presentation to your Academic Cabinet when you return with all you learned and how you can apply what you learned to improving your institution. 
  7. Click here to check out some of these ideas from Blackboard on how to get to BbWorld. 
  8. Select one or two issues that you are currently trying to solve, tell them you will find the answers at BbWorld by talking with 1000+ peers and Bb staff. If you have access to Bb Account Representative, you could even enlist them to make sure you get the answers. 
  9. BbWorld will rejuvenate you and make you more productive/creative. This is one that a friend told me they used last year.
  10. Immediate access to Bb staff - no phone calls, emails, or waiting. Have an unanswered email or call into Bb. Rest assured you will be able to resolve that at BbWorld. Bb employees are everywhere and they cannot avoid you, like occasionally happens with voicemail & email. But if they did, there is always another Bb staff member walking by 30 seconds later that will help!
Is BbWorld expensive, yes specially when it is in Vegas. However, when a decision maker listen's to the ROI and compares that to other things with less ROI..there is no reason why each institution does not send at least one person. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Initial Completed & To Do List For BbWorld14 Conference

Wow, it is hard to believe that a little over two years ago I wrote my first "public" blog post and it was all due to Blackboard Inc. (aka: Bb). Ok, some of it was due to me trying to get a free BbWorld conference registration and the opportunity to interview key educational technology leaders like Freeman Hrabowski, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Sal Khan the founder of the Khan Academy (Read more here).

The July BbWorld Conference seems so far away, yet so much has already been done for it:

  • The Catalyst Award nominations have been submitted, along with the Exemplary Course submissions (ECP) and the client ECP reviews completed. The ECP review council and directors are actively deciding those who show exemplary, not perfect, efforts in teaching practices and who will be honored BbWorld this year. Click here to see past award winners. 
  • The Call For Presentations (CFP) is out and will close at 11:59pm PST on Monday, April 7th, 2014. That is a couple days, so act fast if you haven't submitted your proposal yet! The great thing about BbWorld, it is not all about Blackboard products. While Bb product use is of course heavily, there have been presentations that talk about anything Bb and that is OK as this is an Education Technology conference. Attendees get to learn about Bb products, see how other Bb clients are using the Bb products, but more importantly they get to talk with technology & education vendors, discuss hot education topics, and learn what is being forecasted by community leaders for education. If you would like to propose a presentation for BbWorld please follow this link
  • The decision has been made to change the technical developers conference (DevCon) from a stand alone conference to a track within the BbWorld conference. While there has been lots of discussion between DevCon past attendees. Some feel it is Bb's way to cut cost and force institutions to send more people to cover more session tracks. Some feel that it was Bb's way of reducing cost for DevCon attendees, who used to get charged for two full conferences & had higher travel expenses. Or was it Bb's way to bring more technical presentations to BbWorld for those clients who could not afford both conferences. Blackboard Inc. may never share why they made the change, I am just glad they did not eliminate DevCon completely. 

  • The learning, but fun, schedule has been set. Click here to review the conference schedule
  • Conference Registration is open and Bb has dropped the price again this year for Early Birds. Keep in mind you can bet the Early Bird price by presenting. Click here to register.  
  • The Conference Hotel is ready to take reservations and the details for those who need to do company checks has been provided in a convenient manner. Click here to book your hotel room. 
  • The Exhibitors/Sponsors are starting to shine. Click here to see who is already signed up. 
  • The official BbWorld LinkedIn group which provides first access to event news, discussions with Blackboard executives, and networking with BbWorld attendees has been created. Click here to learn more.
Even with the above done, there is a lot left for Blackboard Inc and attendees to do like:
  • Blackboard Inc
    • Select & Notify Presenters 
    • Select & Notify Catalyst & ECP winners 
    • Secure more exhibitors/sponsors
    • Plan the beloved client appreciation party
    • Select who gets to attend invite only events
    • Account Reps to schedule client meetings
    • Arrange for the fun silver bean bags
    • Develop Conference Mobile App
    • Make travel arrangements for the Bb UX Moose 
  • Attendees
    • Submit Presentation Proposal 
    • Convince Boss To Approval Attendance
    • Register
    • Reserve Hotel Room
    • Get Airline Tickets
    • Join Linked In Group
    • Convince everyone that some do work when in Vegas
    • Download Conference Mobile App
    • Pick Sessions to Attend
    • Arrange work coverage while away

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Remind101 VS Blackboard Tools

I have been hearing a lot lately about Remind101 and how it is being pushed as an option for faculty to student text message communication. Anything to help students succeed should be a good thing right? But if it adds to their technology stress, is it really a good thing?

Why has texting student become more important, because email is not a guarantee from of communication, student initiative is dying out, and faculty are looking for assurance students have heard their message. Email can be delivered with some guarantee, but more and more students are not reading emails delivered to the school emails. Students today, seem to think it is solely the faculty's job to contently remind them of their assignments (responsibilities) even as adult learners. Most people have phones with them 24/7, so the thought is text and they will get the message.

Remind101 ( is advertised as a "safe way for teachers to text message students and stay in touch with parents" (Remind101, 2014). Parents play a much bigger role in K-12, than they do in Higher Education. Actually, in Higher Education faculty cannot talk directly to parents about a student without the students signed consent based on the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act (FERPA). Remind101 states that "text messages are one way" and that you can schedule messages for later delivery. Remind101 is very simply to setup. Just create an an account, get a code to give to your students, and start texting. As of this the 10th of March, they have a mobile app that can be used. Reminder101 provides the faculty member a PDF for students with instructions.

The downside of Reminder101:
1) You cannot set repeating reminders
2) Students have to text the code to get the messages from faculty
3) It is another app that has to be installed & setup

Below is a little video that shows how it works:

Why compare to Blackboard (Bb)? Well, I work for two schools that both use Blackboard Learn and after reading Notre Dame's EdTech February blog post and Dr. Jason Rhode's March blog post I thought a comparison was needed. Notre Dame talks about Bb Connect and states that their is no way for students to on their system to opt-in like their is with Reminder101. Dr. Rhode, who is a Bb MVP, also opts to use Reminder101 in his classes instead of Bb Connect tools.

Blackboard Inc (Bb) has provided Blackboard Learn clients a free tool called Connect For Learn for a couple years now. However, several system administrators have chosen not to setup for their users. After it is setup on LEARN, users simply put in their mobile phone number and select to receive just SMS or text-voice notifications also. By putting their mobile phone number into LEARN users are opting-in to receiving SMS. If someone doesn't like Bb Inc's design, then they could use the Mobile Preferences FREE building block (B2) to make it even simpler. Connect For Learn is one-way, keeps mobile phone numbers private, and instructions for users can be found online and in PDF form at and at Not only will students messages about reminders they can get messages when a grade is posted in Grade Center, when a course announcement is posted, when a test is made available, and when the Bb system is going to be unavailable.  Blackboard also offers a fee version of Bb Connect that adds two-messaging and the fee is based on how much messaging an institution wants to do. Messaging is sold in bundles. Bb Connect isn't just for LMS communications, but as emergency alert systems and anti-bullying solutions.

Here is a brief summary of the two products:

As one US History teach points out "it is hard to limit oneself to 140 characters all the time.  So there are ways around this.  For example if I wanted students to see an assignment I put in Google Docs, I went to tinyurl and put in the long address.  Then you can put that tinyurl in your text and your students can connect to the larger message" (US History Teachers Blog). Why do all this if you are Bb Learn client, just post the full message in your course announcement and with that one posting Bb will send proper SMS with link to the announcement, plus notify the student up to 4 other ways. Now that is taking the "I didn't know" excuse away, without making the faculty member go to multiple locations.

I wonder should we be teaching responsibility and consequence , instead of looking for more ways to remove excuses and reduce their responsibility?