Greetings from BbWorld. I’m writing to recap the key points Michael Chasen and I shared in our keynote speech to the group gathered here in DC. Many of your colleagues are tweeting and blogging from the conference as well so between us we should be taking good notes for you on what’s happening.
Here’s the run down on what we talked about this afternoon:
New Mobile Platform Announcement –
The major announcement of the day was that we’ve taken another big step in building out an offering to support your Mobile strategies by acquiring mobile application developer TerriblyClever Design, LLC., maker of MobilEduTM (http://www.blackboard.com/mobiledu), the category-leading suite of iPhone and mobile web applications for Education.
You’ve told us loud and clear that supporting the increasingly mobile lifestyle of your constituents is a growing priority. This new step is a big part of our response. Built by a group of Stanford students with an up close and personal view of student expectations, MobilEdu is really helping define the early stages of the big trend to mobile by allowing institutions to deliver a rich set of services and content to the mobile devices of their students, instructors, et al.
With an Apple® iPhone™, iPod Touch® or other mobile device, users can navigate campus/school maps and course catalogs, get real-time updates on sports teams and special events and e-mail instructors and classmates. Institutions can connect MobilEdu to their central administrative systems so learners can add/drop courses, check their final grades and perform other administrative tasks. Each instance of the solution is branded uniquely for the institution. So users simply download their institution’s iPhone application (iStanford and DukeMobile are good examples) from the Apple AppStore to their iPhone, iPod touch, or by using any mobile web browser.
In short, students want to do close to everything with their mobile device these days. MobileEdu makes an important dent in meeting this need. And we intend to keep going further. Kayvon Beykpour, co-founder of TerriblyClever, joined Michael on stage here at BbWorld today to show the solution, which can be deployed today independently of any other Blackboard solutions. Kayvon and his team will be joining Blackboard to form a new mobile development division so we can continue advancing MobilEdu and building out the MobilEdu platform with integrations to our other solutions.
Much more detail to come.
Latest in Project NG
Michael took the audience through a lively demo of Project NG. One of the big things I took away was this more tangible sense of the value of the community’s scale. Development today comes from many corners, it has to as everything continues to open up and expand. In the course of 30 minutes, you saw new capabilities that we’ve developed, that clients have developed through Building Blocks, and that partners have developed and integrated deeply into Blackboard. For me this is an example of the principle that drives my openness commitment, the more we can all work off common frameworks, the more rapidly and deeply we can innovate. And as Michael noted, the more rapidly we can pursue critical education goals like universal access and outcomes measurement.
Michael’s tour of what all these groups have helped us build focused in two main areas:
Meeting evolving student needs –Tools to leverage video and other rich content, for student interaction and collaboration like blogs and integrated instant messaging, as well as tools for students to direct their own learning like learning modules.
- Making it easier and more efficient for instructors and administrators – Assessment tools including K12 standards alignment, grading rubrics, integrated student identity verification, and easier course file management.
My in-person introduction and focus outline
I’ve been on the job now for 60 days but much of that has been on the road or scaling the learning curve with my new colleagues. So BbWorld is my first big opportunity to meet many in the community face to face. In today’s keynote I spent a little time introducing myself, sharing a bit about my background, what gets me going, and my hopes for the organization. I also shared a recap of the focus areas first outlined in my introductory letter to the community last month. They are: client focus, transparency in how we communicate, platform openness, product innovation, and the greater good.
Another Step in Openness—the Open Database
I shared my view about the importance of platform openness for our clients, and how it helps them manage risks better. While recently I’ve shared news with everyone that we would adopt the Common Cartridge, today I shared an even bigger story – that we will open the database for Project NG. That’s right – we’ll remove the obstacles to direct access to the production database, just as we’ve done historically for the ANGEL community. We’ll be publishing our database schema with a future release of Project NG in order to allow you to write custom queries and reports, troubleshoot data issues and have the confidence that you have full access to your data at all times. This is such a big idea that you can expect I’ll address it in a separate communication in the coming weeks – but I’m very pleased about the reaction this received on announcement!
I think that hits the high points in summary. We’ll definitely provide a recap after the week is through and I’m sure you’ll get a lot of good color from your peers here in DC. Thanks for reading.