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A brief account of our experience at the Blackboard Users’ Conference 2015

Alison Rooney

New year starts with a visit to the Durham Blackboard Users’ Conference 2015

As sponsors of the Blackboard User Group meeting the first few days back to work for Tim Hodson, Mark Gavillet and I were spent in a cold, but dry, Durham attending this annual event at the University.

With around 110 delegates from universities, colleges and suppliers throughout the UK the event was an excellent way to meet with more technical contacts (IT, Teaching & Learning, Blackboard administrators etc) from both existing and potential customers. From a Sales perspective it was useful to be able to give these more technical contacts a better understanding of our products rather than just pure tech talk.

In addition to the main conference we also attended the pre-conference event all about LTI, the benefits and latest updates. This was a very useful session, especially for Tim, who has already started to evaluate with some of the tools discussed.

Having released our own VLE LTI integration for the Talis Aspire Reading List module in late Dec, this was one of our first opportunities to talk about this in more detail with the community. Tim gave a presentation regarding this work, and was joined by Mark who introduced the Talis Lighthouse project, with an emphasis on providing detailed learning analytics through Blackboard, and the new Talis Insight event being held in April 2015.

The main theme for the event was “Student as Partners” and looked at the benefits and challenges of this shift. With many excellent examples of where students are being encouraged to contribute to all aspects of university life and to shape Teaching & Learning for the future. Sitting in on a number of the sponsors presentations was a great opportunity to hear how others are tackling issues of integration as well as to learn about the value their services are adding to the market. I certainly don’t envy those that have to make sense of the various offerings and ensure these solutions are offering real value to their institutions.

Of course it wasn’t all work and no play. Conference dinner was a grand but relaxed occasion and saw us dining in the opulent surroundings of Durham Castle. Being a clear and dry evening the stroll across Durham gave us the opportunity to appreciate this beautiful city .

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