Final Day of BbWorld09

Yesterday was the final day of Blackboard World 2009.  It was an enjoyable conference.  I met some interesting colleagues who are all grappling with best ways to teach online.  It was great seeing old friends from Georgia Virtual Technical CollegeTwitter as a backchannel was going strong, and I added quite a few new contacts in Twitter.  The hashtag #bbworld09 allowed us to attend a session but keep up with several other sessions simultaneously.  Yet, as compelling as the digital links were, I think I enjoyed most the quiet retrospective back in the hotel room with my colleague Bud Deihl about what the two of us were experiencing.

Thursday was only a half day.  I started the day the way I start every day – up before the sun, coffee, and a review of emails, tweets, Google Reader, and Facebook.

Before the closing keynote, I attended two sessions.  Kathy Keairns of University of Denver discussed leveraging Web 2.0 tools for teaching, research, and fun.  I liked that she provide her wiki handout link.  She focused on four tools:

– A great screencast tool that I frequently use
– Free but limited to 5 minute videos

– Free online image editing tool
– Works in the cloud, no downloads
– Good for quick resizing, cropping, and neat effects like Polaroid view

– Cute and quick animated video program’
– Text based cartoon – no audio (other than canned music)

– Chat Box on the fly
Just add ‘‘ in front of any URL

After her session, I attended an interesting session by two gentlemen from England.  Mark Kerrigan and Mark Clements discussed using Web 2.0 as an assessment process to improve institution retention and learning.  They noted that students come to college to get a degree, but the reality they find is that they are enrolled in 24 siloed courses.  At University of Westminster, they have integrated a process where by every student is assigned a “tutor” – what we would call an academic advisor.  After every major learning event in each course, the students are automatically sent a questionnaire/ survey, with the results forwarded to their advisor.  The students are also encouraged to blog about their learning journey after each learning event.  The advisors use the survey results and the blog reflections to help the students see the relevance of their course work and the interconnections with their chosen degree.

U of Westminster is much smaller than VCU, yet I could see parallels between their effort and our Focused Inquiry program for first year students.  Their use of social media could enhance our process in which our students are together with each other and the same faculty member for both FI One and Two.  Food for thought!

The closing keynote was Lester Holt of NBC News.  He gave a very engaging presentation on the parallels between how journalism has been evolving and how education has been evolving. One comment I liked is that both good journalists and good teachers are in the business of informing and provoking deeper understanding.  He said that Brian Williams reminded them all the time that they were writing the first draft of history.

He focused on the timeshift that was occurring, where the new generation of students expect and demand both their news and their learning on demand 24/7.  NBC is partnering with Blackboard to provide its archived news material for online learning (details and costs about NBC Learn to be provided later).  Lester noted that he was not a super student, preferring hands-on to book learning.  He suggested that he might have had better grades if he had had the online opportunities today’s students have!

His keynote was upbeat and a nice way to end three days of learning at Blackboard World 2009.

{Photo Credits: Sheila Chandler, Glenn Harris}

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