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Community Corner

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Back over to the UK digitally in this episode. We talk with Chris Boon from City College Norwich, pronounced n -O-r-i-dge (rhymes with porridge). We learn he has an interesting history with online education and training and more about the definition of a City College in the UK. He also shares the various ways he helps the Blackboard Community and his recent membership into the Blackboard MVP program. We will also learn about his personal life and the possibilities of a Blackboard Community Band? If that doesn't make you want to listen, I'm not sure what will. Click the link below.


Listen to this Podcast Episode


Editor's Note: The quality of this recording is a little lower than we normally want to use. Please excuse us, as we continue to find the best recording options for our podcast. Thanks!

This episode we talk with University of Southhampton's Matt Deeprose. Our conversation touches on several topics such as how Matt became a Virtual Learning Environment administrator. How he created his infamous Upgrade Club discussion on the Blackboard Community site. We will also learn more about the community happenings in the UK and Europe. There's so much more to discuss, but just click the link below.


Listen to the Podcast Episode


Podcasting Note: We had promised an interview with Marissa Dimino but due to technical issues with the recording we will be bringing you that episode in the near future.

Learning About the Blackboard MVP Program with Emmah Schramke


This week Casey and Terry chat with Emmah Schramke, Senior Manager of Client Programs at Blackboard. We discuss the MVP Program along with Blackboard User Groups and other programs Emmah works with. We will also learn about Emmah’s personal interests and hobbies and her recommendations when visiting DC.


You can find Emmah on the Blackboard Community website or follow her on Twitter.


Podcast link:

          Spokane Public Schools in Spokane, WA is looking for a Blackboard Administrator.

POSTING DATE:  06/20/2018
CLOSING DATE:  07/03/2018
SALARY:  Supervisor/Manager III on Classified Supervisor/Manager Salary Schedule. Experience increments depend on experience in the same or similar position. Promotion or transfer placements will be determined by percentage of increase and consideration of appropriate experience credit.  Click here to view current salary schedule for this position. Download Salary Schedule
SUMMARY OF ASSIGNMENTS:  Manage and oversee virtual learning programs, systems, processes, technology implementations, and best educational practices by working with staff from all departments of Spokane Public Schools, vendors, and service providers.  Duties include oversight of curriculum instructional design and implementation, development and delivery of training content, web development, educational quality assurance guidelines, student support and staff management.  Manage the work of the SVL Technical Support Specialist and other virtual learning classified staff.
  1. Administration of Blackboard or other current course-management system used for virtual learning programs and classroom support.
  2. Manage and oversee of the work of the SVL Technical Support Specialist.
  3. Develop and oversee Professional Development that facilitates the educational use of technology that focuses on integration and accessibility in the classroom, both virtually and school-based.
  4. Management and development for Spokane Virtual Learning and Spokane Course Management System areas.
  5. Collaborate with all departments in Spokane Public Schools to facilitate the use, support, and enhancement of course-management system. This includes management, instructional design, training, implementation, educational best practices, and proper usage and access.
  6. Management and development of student-led support programs and classes for the support of teachers, staff, and students in virtual learning programs.
  7. Oversight and facilitation of vendor and customer contracts and student support for virtual learning programs.
  8. Collaborate with Technology Services department and schools to implement and ensure proper data integration between the multiple SPS data systems and the course-management system.
  1. Demonstrated ability and aptitude to perform the responsibilities listed.
  2. Bachelor degree in education, computer science, or related field preferred; or five years experience in the management and implementation of school programs, including staff management.
  3. Ability to organize and direct the work of others, maintaining a positive working environment.
  4. Demonstrated track record of successful implementation and management of technology systems.
  5. Expertise in the usage and management of course-management systems such as Blackboard.
  6. Experience in the development and delivery of professional development curriculum.
  7. Experience with Web Development using such technologies as SQL, PHP, ASP, JAVASCRIPT, and the Adobe suite of products.
  8. Demonstrated organizational skills.
  9. Demonstrated ability to effectively communicate (written/oral) and work productively with district administration, coordinators, teachers, staff, parents, and students.
  10. Demonstrated successful experience developing and maintaining positive and professional working relationships with a diverse group of students, staff, volunteers, and the community in a confidential manner.
  11. Relates positively to youth and adults of varying socioeconomic, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds.
APPLY TO:  Apply online at by selecting EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES. For further information call Human Resources Department at (509) 354-7265. Applications will be screened when complete application materials are received.  Spokane Public Schools complies with all federal and state rules and regulations and does not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, marital status, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability, sexual orientation including gender expression or gender identity, or honorably discharged veteran or military status. This holds true for all students who are interested in participating in educational programs and/or extracurricular school activities, and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups.  Inquiries regarding compliance and/or grievance procedures may be directed to the school district's officers as follows: Title IX/Staff Civil Rights Officer, Dr. Linda McDermott (509) 354-7318 * Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying (HIB)/Student Civil Rights Officer, Dr. Adam Swinyard (509) 354-7393 * 504 Compliance Officer, Gwen Harris (509) 354-7393 * ADA Officer, Dr. Linda McDermott (509) 354-7318 * Affirmative Action Officer, Dr. Mary Templeton (509) 354-5961 * Equal Opportunity Officer, Ramon Alvarez, (509) 354-7344 * 200 N. Bernard Street, Spokane, WA 99201-0206. Click here for a list of the current compliance officers: View EEO Compliance Officers
  1. Work Schedule—Days and hours are subject to change depending on program and district needs.
  2. Benefits—Fringe benefits are provided for employees who work at least half-time (20 hours per week) or more in a regular position. Stipends are as approved by the Board of Directors.
  3. A fingerprint background check is required for all perspective employees prior to start date. A processing fee is payable by payroll deduction.
Employee Group  Supervisory Employees Non-Rep - SV

On May 17, we will host a “follow-the-sun” series of webinars focused on accessibility in education at all levels and across the globe.


The 9 webinar sessions (8 in English, 1 in Spanish) span five different time zones in 24 hours.  Our roster of expert speakers includes educators, policy makers, and advocates. We are excited about this year’s stellar lineup of speakers which include:

  • Paul Harpur, Senior Lecturer at The University of Queensland, will tell his story as he reflects on creating a better learning environment for all learners.
  • Heidi Pettyjohn and Dave Rathbun from the University of Cincinnati will share stories and strategies on providing tools and education through involvement on strategic eLearning and university initiatives to understand how accessibility fits into the work that they do.
  • Brett Christie will discuss outcomes of California State University Universal Design for Learning efforts, which began in 2005. At the core of this effort is professional development that provides faculty and staff the support and training necessary to ensure that students with disabilities are provided a high quality postsecondary education.
  • Ben Brown  and Tracy Sangster from the Davidson Institute, a K12 school for the profoundly gifted, will talk about designing courses that are flexible and emphasize the students’ preference in learning.


Click here to view complete list and register.

Since 2012, GAAD has aimed to get everyone thinking, sharing best practices and learning about digital access and people with different disabilities. I’m proud of Blackboard’s efforts to contribute to this important focus in our education community.


GAAD Banner.png

Today wraps-ups the second of the Community Enhancement blog series where we share following improvements that complete our community refresh. You will see the larger changes to the home page and content look and feel go-live starting Friday, December 15th and continuing through the end of 2017.


Simplified global navigation & Improved Layouts

Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 4.28.53 PM.png


  • We've revised the navigation to make it easier to find forums, user groups, product information, ideas, programs as well as information that you're accessing the most.
  • We've redesigned the community home page and several popular forum home pages to better guide you to the content you're most interested in
  • We've added a custom search to various areas such as the home page and forums to make it easier to look up information
Consolidated two forumsHomepageScreen Shot 2017-12-08 at 4.41.45 PM.pngEducators PageScreen Shot 2017-12-08 at 4.49.53 PM.pngInstructional Designer PageScreen Shot 2017-12-08 at 4.50.54 PM.png
  • We've combined Educators and Instructional Designers into a new forum called Teaching & Learning.
  • We brought together two forums who have a similar audience in order to consolidate information. This gives users the ability to access high-level information as well as specific content regarding Educators and Instructional Designers through the forums additional pages.
  • As it is a new place, you will have to follow it to stay up-to-date with its activity.
  • For those of you have both pages bookmarked, you will be automatically redirected to the new place URL.
New Content  LayoutsScreen+Shot+2017-12-05+at+2.30.12+PM.pngScreen+Shot+2017-12-05+at+2.26.39+PM.pngScreen+Shot+2017-12-05+at+2.27.36+PM.png
  • Content types now have a cleaner and more modern look that is also optimized for viewing on mobile devices.
  • Content has been redesigned to highlight the unique attributes of each type.
  • For example, you can now add header images to blog posts
  • The full width view provides an easier read experience
  • The list of Actions on the right can now be found in top-right hand corner.
  • The bread-crumbs can also be found in the top-left corner.
New Profile LayoutsScreen Shot 2017-12-12 at 1.48.15 PM.png
  • Profiles have received an upgrade and you will be able to see:
    • Instead of a photo carousel, you now see a configurable, optional banner at the top of the profile. You won't see the banner until you upload an image by clicking Add a banner.
    • Scroll down the page to find your other profile photos. They're in the Photos section under Skills. Click the thumbnails to open the full-screen photo carousel.
    • You'll see the following changes to the Profile editing tabs:
      • Your Profile is now Profile Details.
      • The Avatar & Photos tab is now an Avatar tab (which lets you select or create an avatar) and a Photos tab where you can manage additional profile photos.
    • The Follow button now appears directly to the right of the person's name instead of to the far right of the profile.
    • You can now see Rewards point totals on a clickable bar indicator to the right of the user's photo.
    • You can now write as much as you like in your profile details section because there is no limit
    • There is no Connections section and the Following, Followers and the Org Chart have their own sections.
    • A new Top Content section includes links to content authored by the profile owner, prioritized by recency, positive feedback, and number of interactions with the item. You only see this section if you published content within the last month.
    • A new Recent Activity section shows content you have interacted with most recently. You only see this section if you have been active in the community within the last month.
    • You can now find Most Liked content in the Overview section. You only see this section if you have published at least one piece of content that received at least one Like
  • As we mentioned in our first Community Enhancement blog series, we are very excited about sharing these new features and changes with you and welcome your feedback.
  • Enjoy the improvements and we hope you make the most of these modifications!

Today we start a two-part series of blogs titled Community Enhancements that describe the new changes and improvements you will see throughout the site. The first of several launches today and some of you may have seen it already.


  • New background color: We changed the sites background color for improved clarity.


  • Improved Networking Opportunities: We've made it easier to find user groups by regions and topics with the creation of the User Group Directory (launching Friday, December 8th) as well as introducing Blackboard MVP Program where the community can meet members of our MVP program and learn how it works.



Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 5.18.32 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-01 at 4.52.23 PM.png



Please let us know what you think of these improvements; we welcome your feedback and would like to thank all of those who have shared their thoughts. We have considered them and hope you will see that feedback reflected in your redesigned community.

I wish those that are celebrating a Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels. We are so grateful for your honest conversations, feedback and continued participation in the Blackboard Community!


I'm exciting to announce that starting November 27th through the end of December, we will be rolling out a variety of enhancements based on feedback community users have shared with us over the last year. Specifically, we are making improvements in:


  • Design: We have a new look and feel to match our updated Blackboard branding
  • Usability:
    • Improved global navigation: we've made it easier to find forums, user groups, product information, ideas, programs as well as information that you're accessing the most.
    • Improved layouts: we've redesigned the community home page and the forum home pages to better guide you to the content you're most interested in
    • Consolidated two forums: We're combining Educators and Instructional Designers into a new forum called Teaching & Learning
    • Updated content experience: We'll move to a cleaner, more concise format for our threaded discussions, blogs, videos and profiles
    • Search: We've added a custom search to various areas such as the home page and forums to make it easier to look up information in the areas you're interested in
  • Product News: We're launching a new area in the community called Product News. Follow it to stay informed.
  • Networking: We've made it easier to find user groups by regions and topics with the creation of a new landing page for sorting and searching.


We are thrilled to witness the evolution of our community and invite you to be part of its continued success.


Thank you for your support!



Finals; exams do not come worse than these. Finals approaching might have taken you into looking for ways to ace your exams, not just any ways, but the most practical ways. Students all over the world have had several beliefs about exams and how to tackle them. Essay geeks give an insight of these superstitions. However, here are the most practical tried and tested ways to prepare for your finals.

  1. When studying, switch environments rather than sticking to one place, it goes a long way in helping you recall what you study.
  2. Test yourself as regularly as possible. This helps you to master your anxiety, plan out your time and familiarize with the paper.
  3. Organize your work station, it goes a long way in helping you recall what you study.
  4. Take a break regularly. Putting in continuous hours without a break can be detrimental to your memory, so take a break from time to time and you will be good to go.

  These tips should set you on the path to passing your finals.


Who is Blackboard?

Posted by tjatkin Nov 15, 2017

In recognition of Blackboard’s 20th anniversary this year, we launched the #IamBlackboard campaign, featuring stories and insights from Blackboard clients and employees around the globe. So, I thought I’d share my story.


I joined Blackboard in June 2016. I’m a Coast Guard veteran, a former faculty member, a former political appointee, have over 16 years experience leading the full range of IT services and responding to client needs, and #IamBlackboard.


As Blackboard’s Chief Client Officer, I’m motivated every day by 3 driving forces:


  • The power and importance of education in defining individuals and their future. I was the youngest of 5 children. My dad was a Navy pilot and we moved every 3 years. With each move, my parents picked where we would live based on what schools we would be attending. Education was the top priority (sometimes leaving dad with terrible commutes to work!). I learned from my parents, and have witnessed first hand, how the power of education can transform and shape lives.
  • The passion and commitment of Blackboard’s clients. Every faculty member, instructional designer, system administrator, CIO, provost and student or learner who I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk with since joining Blackboard has demonstrated inspiring commitment to student success. Two weeks ago at the 15th Annual SLATE conference, I was energized by the sharing of experiences, lessons learned, and innovative ideas to leverage technology to drive better outcomes.
  • The Passion and commitment of the Blackboard team. My colleagues and our partners simply rock! I’m so proud to be part of such a hard-working team that cares so deeply about making a positive difference in education, for everyone involved. This fall we completed a thorough assessment and self-reflection of how we can improve the client experience. We have work to do to achieve the world class experience that our clients deserve, and we know it.  And we’re excited about the improvements we will make. I’ll share more in the coming weeks and months as we strive for continuous improvements.


In a nutshell, I’m lucky to have a job that enables me to be part of a community that’s improving lives, and the world we live in. #IamBlackboard.  Check out other #IamBlackboard stories here.


Providing Quality Feedback

Posted by aauthier Nov 9, 2017

Another month - another episode of What's Your Problem? In this episode, we focus on best practices for providing quality feedback to online students.


Research has clearly shown us that, in order for feedback to be truly effective, it should be timely, specific, and personal – but it often seems impossible to do all three. This month, What’s Your Problem? looks into some effective ways to provide quality feedback that is timely, specific, AND personal to students in distance learning courses. Is it even possible to do all three? (Spoiler alert: it is).



Check out past episodes at our YouTube Channel. Subscribe to be notified when new episodes come out.




Adam Authier, Kaylynn Mortensen, Jason Kane

It's time for another installment of What's Your Problem? from the instructional designers at Schoolcraft College. Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne in 1989’s Batman said it best, “You want to get nuts? Let’s get nuts!” What’s Your Problem? gets a little nuts this month with a thematic episode based on the hit Discovery Channel program, Mythbusters! For our Mythbusters! episode, Adam, Jason, and Kaylynn tackle some of the common myths circling around the Distance Learning modalities and attempt to “bust” them. You know how sometimes education requires you to leave your comfort zone to accomplish something worthwhile? Well this time, we left it, like waaaaaay left it! We tried something new this time, and since we are clearly not scientists, this episode is a little out there, but we think you'll enjoy it. Just in case, though, you can always enjoy our previous nine episodes by subscribing to our YouTube Channel.




Adam Authier, Jason Kane, Kaylynn Mortensen


From 35,000 feet....

Posted by tjatkin Sep 27, 2017

As I’m writing this, I’m on a plane on my way from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles. 


I’m going to LA for a (belated) summer vacation.  Even though I’m not going for work, I’ll get to visit with my friend and fellow Blackboarder Karen Yoshino.  She’s a rock star and I’m excited to get to see her and catch up!


Because I’ve flown this airline before, I know I’ll be receiving an email with an online survey asking me about my experience.  I’ve completed their surveys in the past, and yet I’ve never seen or heard any feedback.  Did what I say matter? Did what I say influence anything about the ticketing process, notifications, boarding, the flight experience itself, how fast I get my luggage after I land?


Have you found yourself asking these questions after you’ve taken an online survey?  I, like many of you, take these surveys with faith that they’ll make a difference.


I mentioned in my blog post last week that I’d share the results of Blackboard’s annual Client Satisfaction survey.  In April 2017, over 2,000 clients participated in Blackboard’s annual Client Satisfaction survey.  Thank you for having faith. I want you to know your participation matters. These survey results help me – and everyone at Blackboard – to reflect, prioritize and plan . . . and to improve how we partner with you.


In conjunction with our research firm, we perform sophisticated statistical analyses to determine strategic areas of focus where we have room for improvement and areas that are most important to your overall satisfaction. We identified the following key areas of focus:

  • Product ease-of-use
  • Ease of integrating with other systems and tools
  • Ease of doing business with Blackboard
  • Proactive communications


We are paying close attention to your inputs, and we are laser focused on improvements in these areas.


Product ease-of-use
The design language we call Ultra has dramatically improved ease of use within Blackboard Collaborate and our newest mobile apps, and we are working diligently to drive faster continued adoption of Ultra design across all our products. We know there is always room to improve and we will continue to add features to our newest products, always while preserving the simplicity of the Ultra design.


Ease of integrating with other systems and tools
We’re addressing this priority in two important ways.  First, we’re working diligently to better integrate the end-user experience across Blackboard products. For example, the Blackboard app for mobile devices provides a seamless user experience across Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Collaborate. Additionally, we continue to work to improve both the ease and depth of integration of our products within your larger technology ecosystem. Examples of this work include our continuing expansion of REST APIs available through the Blackboard Developer Portal and our ongoing support for standards-based integration through our participation and leadership in the IMS Global community.  We pledge to continue to improve the ease and variety of integrations supported in Learn and our other platforms.


Ease of doing business with Blackboard
When it comes to "doing business with Blackboard," we are pursuing improvements across all facets of the Client Experience. We will soon be concluding a large internal system consolidation and upgrade that will allow us to streamline the quoting, contracting, and invoicing processes. We’ve expanded accessibility of resources in places like, the Community Site, and Behind the Blackboard. Between these and other improvements, such as the improved reach of our Client Success team, we will strive to be the best partner to you that we can be.


Proactive communication
At BbWorld this summer, we worked hard to create open forums for transparent and honest conversations about every aspect of our work. For those who were able to participate, we appreciate your candid insights.  The launch of the CCO blog is another step in our effort to support a two-way dialogue, to ensure we can understand your perspective and proactively share information.  We’re continuing to identify additional areas where we can improve our communications with you.


Beyond those key areas identified for improvement, the survey recognized improvements between 2016 and 2017 in a number of areas. We are pleased that clients are experiencing greater satisfaction overall, and seeing sharp improvements in:

  • Satisfaction in adoption of Blackboard products at your institution
  • The value of Blackboard events and networking opportunities with other Blackboard clients
  • Blackboard’s thought leadership within the education sector
  • Satisfaction with Blackboard Student Services
  • Scalability of Blackboard solutions
  • Depth of functionality of Blackboard solutions


At Blackboard, we are extremely proud of our nearly 3,000 professionals around the world, and we believe these improvements in the survey results reflect the hard work of our employees and teams over the past year. A few examples of our employees' work include the continuous delivery of improvements to Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Learn SaaS, and a renewed focus on client programs such as User Groups, Catalyst Awards, Exemplary Course Program, Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series, Tech Previews, Cohorts, and this Community site.


We know the results are more than numbers. They represent the very real daily, weekly, and monthly impact we have on people around the world – the impact we have on you.  We want to continue to hear from you in our annual survey, and as importantly, throughout the year. I encourage you to continue the conversation here on the Community Site and via other forums.


In future blog posts, I will continue to share information about work we’re doing to improve our work in areas identified through the annual survey.


How do we listen to you?

Posted by tjatkin Sep 20, 2017

Several weeks ago, I sat in Blackboard's Curie conference room (named for Marie Curie, the famed researcher, double Nobel prize winner, and first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris) and listened to the results of our Client Satisfaction survey, an annual survey we conduct to better understand how we’re meeting our clients’ needs.  As I listened to the different data points – the highs, the lows, the trends, and the areas of focus - I thought of:


  • the Online Campus leader who emailed Bill Ballhaus and me with ideas of how we can improve our efforts to support his university;
  • the Associate Provost who sat next to me in a listening session at BbWorld, and shared her team’s concerns;
  • the Instructional Designer and the System Administrator (from different universities) who I talked with for 3 hours at the House of Blues party in New Orleans after BbWorld; I got to know them as caring, engaged and fun education professionals – and we never even “talked shop;”
  • the Professor Emeritus who reached out to me via email as she didn't know where to turn for help;
  • my neighbor who is a kindergarten assistant at a Blackboard client county system; and
  • my nephew who uses Blackboard in school.


I realized the survey results represent not just these individuals, but their teams, their colleagues, their peers, and their classmates. The survey results are more than numbers. They represent the very real daily, weekly, and monthly impact we have on people around the world – the impact we have on you.


The survey results help me, and everyone at Blackboard, to understand the individual stories, challenges, needs, and desires in a more holistic way. The survey results help us reflect, prioritize, and plan.


Previously, Blackboard had sporadically obtained client feedback via survey tools.  In 2015, we committed to an annual survey cycle across all of our clients to better inform our work.  Next week, I will share a summary of our annual Client Satisfaction survey taken in April, 2017.


When you read the survey summary, you'll likely see elements that reflect your experience with Blackboard. You'll also see that other people and institutions may have competing needs and desires. Keeping with our conviction about the importance of transparency as a cornerstone of partnership, we will be sharing these results because we believe it will strengthen our dialogue.


Stay tuned. And thank you for taking the time to read my first blog post in my role as Blackboard's Chief Client Officer. I look forward to our conversation.