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Community Corner

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Greetings everyone for another round table with our Blackboard experts. This week we review Blackboard World 2019 in Austin, Texas. The discussion covers various topics and conversations from the conference. Need a recap of the event or missed it? Get the inside scoop during this episode of Blackboard Chalk Talks. 

At Blackboard, we’ve been on a journey over the past few years to realign our business to be the best partner we can be for the education community.  As a company, we’ve learned how to take advantage of every change that comes our way as an opportunity to accelerate our progress toward achieving our goals and driving the next wave of innovation in EdTech. To that end, we’ve made some organizational changes resulting from some recent leadership departures.


Over the past several weeks, a few senior leaders at Blackboard have announced their decision to leave the company to pursue other opportunities.  The decision to leave was uniquely personal to each of these individuals and their timing is simply circumstantial. They’ve each made significant contributions to the organization, and we wish them well in their new endeavors.


The ability for our senior leaders to find opportunities outside of Blackboard to take the next step in their careers is a testament to the strong leadership culture that Blackboard cultivates within its ranks. We’re proud that some of our leaders spread their wings and move on to run companies and organizations within the tech community.


Within Blackboard, we’ve purposely fostered an environment that provides leadership development opportunities. And we’re proud that we have provided opportunities to many of our leaders to step in to positions of greater authority and responsibility.


In 2018, we made significant progress as a company and we’re confident of our continued momentum and trajectory as a company with strong leaders guiding our organization. Over the past year we’ve seen strong momentum on moving our Learn clients to SaaS and our next-generation Ultra LMS and exploding growth of our Ally accessibility tool and mobile app downloads. We are financially sound, hitting our financial target in 2018. And mid-way through 2019, we’re excited by the path we’re on. We’re looking forward to sharing details of our progress at BbWorld next week in Austin.


Organizational and Leadership Changes


With the announcement of these recent departures, we are seizing the opportunity to continue to refine our operations by making changes that we believe will enhance our teams and continue to drive our business forward.


I know many of you either through my role as Chief Client Officer (CCO) or through my previous roles leading Blackboard’s K-12 and International businesses. And I’m excited to now also be taking on the Global Markets organization. Combining my CCO responsibilities with the Global Markets organization makes perfect sense, bringing together teams and functions that are focused on keeping their finger on the pulse of our clients’ needs.


Most of my career I have been leading client-facing organizations, and I’m thrilled to get back to my roots by leading Blackboard’s Global Markets team.


Also as part of our organizational changes, Kathy Vieira – a nearly 16-year veteran of Blackboard who has served in a number of roles including VP of Portfolio Strategy and Management, VP of Partner Enablement and VP of Partnerships in the Consulting organization – will take on the added responsibility of Product Strategy and Business Development. Kathy’s new role will be Chief Strategy, Portfolio and Marketing Officer.


This change will bring together strategy, business development, product line management and marketing under the same umbrella organization. This provides an opportunity to create a truly integrated team that’s laser focused on demonstrating and delivering increased value to our clients, partners and industry, which is imperative to our success.


Finally, as we move closer toward a pure SaaS business model, we are aligning our Cloud Hosting and Support functions with the Product Development organization, to support the close collaboration required across these teams. These functions will now report to Chief Product Officer Tim Tomlinson, who is excited to work with these teams to continue our progress toward highly collaborative and fully integrated product delivery and client support operations in pursuit of our client satisfaction and retention objectives.


We fully expect a seamless transition to our new organizational and leadership structure under the helm of myself, Kathy and Tim.

We continue the focus on Blackboard World this month with an interview with Mr. DevCon, Scott Hurrey Scott has been with Blackboard for many years. In this episode, we learn about his history with the company, which made him focus on computers and coding and what to expect at this year's DevCon event. So get ready to get your geek on with this episode of Blackboard Chalk Talks. 

I am excited to announce the 2019 Blackboard Catalyst Award Winners. Each year, we take a moment to recognize and celebrate the innovative achievements of our clients. We do this through the Blackboard Catalyst Awards.


This year we are recognizing 32 clients across 7 categories. We had some incredible submissions that ranged from enabling emergency online courses after a hurricane to implementing a single LMS across 11 campuses.


We already recognized 8 winners at the TLC19 in Newcastle, England back in May. The rest of the winners we will be recognizing at BbWorld in Austin,Texas on July 25, 2019.


Please click here to view this year’s winners and a short description of their submission.


Congratulations to all of our winners. Looking forward to celebrating with you at BbWorld.


After a break during the US Independence Day week, we are back. This month we focus on the upcoming Blackboard World event in Austin, Texas. This episode welcomes Marissa Carrillo and Vivek Ramgopal who help plan the event. We learn about how they joined Blackboard, their knowledge of previous BbWorlds and what's planned for this year. Grab your magic wand as we talk with the wizards of Blackboard World this week on Blackboard Chalk Talks. 

After a bit of a delay, we have brought you an episode fit for all in the Blackboard Community. Five Blackboard MVPs take on the Ultra and Original experiences. The good, the bad, and the honest come out of our round table members. The Ultra Experience, The Original Experience, and the Blackboard Experience all get the MVP Experience. It's an episode you will want to experience too, so check out this week's Hot Topics edition of Blackboard Chalk Talks. 

Our two part series with the two Wades of Blackboard wraps up this week. Wade Weichel with Product Management talks about his background and role in helping shape Blackboard. We learn how studying Journalism helps his current position and his work with IMS Global. Sit back for an engaging conversation on this edition of Blackboard Chalk Talks.


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We've been on a roll the past few weeks talking about what we hope to cover in our podcast episodes this year. You've heard our thoughts and now we want to hear yours. Please comment on this post with what ideas, topics, and interviews you want to hear us discuss. If you don't want to post the idea in a comment feel free to use our website, or email Thank you for your help!

This week Casey Eubank turns the interview tables on our third Blackboard Chalk Talk host, Terry Patterson. Learn about what he's been up to in at Austin Community College, where to go during BbWorld 2019 in Austin, what he's interested in interviewing others about, why he's considering writing again, and why tacos are a great breakfast food. Intriguing conversation is the plan with this week's edition of Blackboard Chalk Talks!




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This is the first of two interviews with Blackboard's Wades of Spades, Wade Fields and Wade Weichel. Both are Product Managers for two different experiences of Blackboard Learn. This week, we talk with Wade Fields who works on the Blackboard Learn Ultra experience. Check out his insights and background on this week's edition of Blackboard Chalk Talks. 

Clients often tell me how an employee has gone above and beyond expectations to help them.

We strive to recognize our employees who excel in their work.  This year, we have created a new award to recognize a Blackboard employee or team who has over the past year exemplified our values and advanced our mission to be the best Partner in Change for the global education community through:


  • Innovation, and/or
  • Providing (or improving) an exceptional client experience, and/or
  • Empowering the Blackboard Community


We would like to formally honor and recognize these contributions and would greatly appreciate your nominations. Please write up a few sentences on why a certain employee or team should be recognized and submit the nomination here.  The deadline to submit a nomination is Friday, June 21, 2019.  A panel of leaders will review the nominations and select a winner(s), which we plan to recognize at BbWorld in July.


Thank you for helping us recognize those Blackboard team members who are making a difference for you, our valued clients!

This is the inaugural edition of our Hot Topics round table discussions. These include a group of members from the Blackboard Community talking about one or two topical events or issues within our community. This edition focuses on Box and the planned replacement of New Box View by Blackboard. We have a great group of folks who bring their experiences, thoughts and (happily) their opinions to this extended edition of Bb Chalk Talks.



This edition's guests include:



Corrie Bergeron - Instructional Designer at Lakeland Community College
Casey Eubank - Learning Management Systems Administrator at WSU Tech
Ricki Hodges Neri - Blackboard Administrator at Sam Houston State University
Helen Keier - Associate Director for Learning Management Systems, John Jay Online 
John Lane - Director, Technology Learning Services at University of Houston-Downtown
Carolyn Ponce - Coordinator of Distance Education, Arkansas State University
Mark Reynolds - Senior Application Specialist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Listen at: 


Reflections on TLC Europe

Posted by lblakemore May 24, 2019

As my first blog as your Chief Client Officer, I thought I would take a moment and introduce myself.


I am originally from St.Louis, Missouri but for the past 18 years I have lived in South Bend, Indiana with my wife Corinne and our 2 now teenage daughters (insert appropriate level of anxiety here). 


I have been at Blackboard for 4 years and have held a few different roles.  When I first joined, I was responsible for the K12 business in North America.  That was my first experience in EdTech and I really enjoyed the K12 clients and team.  In the fall of 2016, I took on the role of President of Blackboard International, taking responsibility for the Blackboard business outside of North America.  This was my first introduction to Higher Ed and was a fantastic learning experience.  My family and I moved to London, and from there I visited clients and partners in over 20 countries, forming some fantastic relationships.  This led me to my third and current role at Blackboard as the President, Global Client Operations and Success – a role I have held since January 2018.  The scope of this role includes Client Support, Global Consulting, SaaS Migration, managing our Data Centers as well as our SaaS platform at AWS.  Assuming the additional role of Chief Client Officer is a natural fit as a large part of my scope affects the experience our clients and partners have with our solutions.


Prior to Blackboard, I spent about 25 years in enterprise technology with large companies including IBM and some smaller, lesser known firms.   


I am really looking forward to this expanded role and continuing the dialogue on how Blackboard can be the best possible partner for our clients.


Reflections on TLC Europe


Wearing my new CCO hat, last week I had the opportunity to travel to Newcastle, England for Blackboard’s tenth TLC Europe conference. Not only did I have a great time catching up with many of you at Northumbria University’s beautiful campus, I left feeling energized and excited by what’s ahead in education.


One of the things I love the most about attending a TLC conference – and I’ve attended at least 6 that I can think of in various countries – is the sense of community that those gatherings foster.  Because of our deep and long-term relationships with our clients across every region of the globe, we’re able to leverage these conferences to share best practices and facilitate conversations. In short, they provide a wonderful opportunity to learn from one another. I was excited to see that as a result of that conference, we have a number of new members to our Community Site.  Welcome! Our next community gathering is at BbWorld July 23-25 in Austin, Texas. We hope you’ll join us!


For Blackboard, these conferences also provide an invaluable opportunity for us to hear from you.  For instance, we’ve been bringing the new Hackboard:Data event on a world tour to let developers get behind-the-scenes with the way we are thinking about data management, organization, orchestration, and privacy. We’ve had great results from these events including the one at TLC Europe last week. We’ve seen our developer community really dive in to the dataset and come up with some cool opportunities to explore.  We plan to continue that conversation coming up at BbWorld and we’ll bring Hackboard:Data to our TLC ANZ Conference in August.


The community has also provided us with invaluable input in shaping our conferences. For instance, the program for TLC Europe this year was co-developed with 12 clients who served as part of our program committee. Our TLC ANZ conference last year pioneered this approach. In both cases, the result was our best program ever.


 In short, these gatherings and also our Community Site provide an excellent forum for us to engage with one another. I encourage you to stay active. In my newly expanded role, I’m eager to hear what’s on your mind. And I intend to regularly share my thoughts and reflections here.


I hope to catch up with you at BbWorld!


This episode puts another podcast host in the interviewee seat as Casey Eubank talks about his interests and challenges as a Blackboard administrator at Wichita State University - Tech and learn one of his favorite hobbies. So get ready as we bring up the curtain on this edition of Blackboard Chalk Talks.


Listen at: 

This week we visit with the newest member of the Blackboard Chalk Talks host family, Letitia Davis. We learn about what brought her into educational technology, her ideas for podcast episodes, and what she enjoys about Blackboard World. So put on your virtual ten-gallon hat for a Texas-sized chat on Blackboard Chalk Talks. Find more about Letitia on our conversations page.


Link to the episode: