On the Other Side: From the Classroom to Blackboard Inc. - From the Promethean Board to Blackboard Inc.

Blog Post created by jhilton on Apr 19, 2017

Post #3. Get ready for action!


I am not alone!! There are former teachers here with me.    SHAMELESS WORK ENVIRONMENT PLUG: It was refreshing to see that Blackboard saw the value in hiring educators to help steer their product development and communications. Also, everyone here is super positive (I mean for the most part, humans do work here after all). Best internship ever.

Anyways, back to the matter at hand. Working for an edtech company after having been in the classroom gave me the opportunity to talk to my former self from a product marketing perspective. What message would Jake the Teacher relate to? What kind of engagement would I have found most useful? This was really cool! I went into marketing not to create an industry (looking at you De Beers), but to connect quality products with consumers. #nosnakeoil


At Blackboard I was given the opportunity to do just that! I came in bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, nervous and excited. This was my first internship (student teaching hardly counts), and really my first experience in “business”; sadly, Flight of the Concord videos were little help. I was expecting a big project with an end deliverable. What I got was much more valuable. I was thrust into a team with Susan Patton, Francesca Monaco, and Vivek Ramgopal where I was expected to contribute as if I was a new hire, not an intern. I updated our user personas, involved myself in focus groups at BbWorld, and interviewed customers for testimonials. Oh, and in case you missed it the first time…I attended BbWorld16 in Vegas    (The fanciest trip I was on in NC was a shared motel room for a conference in Raleigh #lesigh).

I was also prompted to involve myself in the Community Site (yes, I’ve been lurking in the shadows for quite some time now). I found that the Community Site was a wonderfully organic way to drive deeper adoption through peer to peer interactions, and I applaud the groundswell effort tremendously.


When I left my school, we had begun a similar endeavor to drive deeper technological adoption in the classroom with the creation of a technology team named iInnovate (we were a mac based system, so yeah, that’s how cool we were). This small group was tasked with learning new technologies and putting them to work in our lessons. We would report back on successes and failures to the team, and then hold training workshops for the rest of the staff based on our recommendations. I have seen the BUGs in the Community Site operate in much the same way. Convincing teachers to change what they’ve been doing is HARD work and I can’t wait to elaborate on this point in my next post. I can only imagine how much more effective our team would have been if we had access to a larger network like a BUG site; kudos to Marissa Dimino for managing a great site.


I have spent a significant amount of my time at Blackboard getting to know a side of education I didn’t know was so robust. I’m touched at the level of thought that goes into supporting educators and am glad to have been part of it. Like I said in my first post, I won’t be here forever, so I’ll also take some time to give you all a proper send off in my next (last) post, which will focus on the role of technology in the classroom.