I have previously shared our focus at Blackboard on driving – and living – a culture of continuous improvement, across all aspects of our business and with a view towards how we can improve the client experience. We have a lot of critical work underway, and much more to do, and I want to share some examples of the results from the work our teams are doing specifically for Blackboard Learn in SaaS.
Focus on Quality
We have been working to improve the quality of our releases and our product development team identified ways to improve our internal quality assurance and testing efforts.
- We added a new step to our deployment process to ensure smooth Blackboard Learn SaaS software releases. During a release, we do enhanced testing on two internal instances in every region in both test and production builds. This additional round of testing enables us to discover and fix issues, or validate there are no issues, before rolling the release out to client sites.
Enabling Better Testing and Change Management
Learn SaaS Clients using Continuous Delivery told us they would like to have more time for User Acceptance Testing (UAT) to ensure quality in their environment and manage the change (they were getting 7 to 8 business days - and one weekend, depending on time zone). Our product management and development teams identified process improvements allowing for more time for client UAT.
- Our process improvements enable us to modify the Continuous Delivery Learn SaaS release schedule to give clients more time to conduct user acceptance testing and to manage change; we now provide 12-13 business days (and two weekends, depending on time zone).
Features and Capabilities
We have also been working diligently on the Learn Ultra user experience. In recent months we have focused on accelerating the delivery of new features and capabilities; we have also spent time working directly with clients and getting their inputs to refine key workflows and interfaces of Learn Ultra to improve usability. Many institutions rely heavily on group assessments.
- Leveraging input from clients, we’ve done significant work to deliver group communications enhancements This user experience refinement brings more visibility and improvements to workflow usability for group assessments including: adding an activity indicator to alert group members when classmates have made contributions to group workspaces; better placement of group capabilities; and, improved default views of group workspaces.
We have a lot of additional work underway in this area and on other subjects but I wanted to share some of our work. We’ll continue to share and provide more information across multiple forums and channels. I’m looking forward to attending Blackboard’s Teaching and Learning Conference in Manchester, England in a few weeks to meet directly with clients and discuss our work further in these areas, and others.