A couple of weeks ago, I attended the 2012 Blackboard World Conference in New Orleans, LA. Blackboard World is always a huge conference with a lot of information. Like years past, there were a lot of useful sessions and time well spent collaborating and meeting new folks from other schools learning about their experiences and key take aways. There were several things I thought they could have done better, but the big negatives were the food and location. Considering we were in a city known for their great food, what they provided at the conference was a disappointment. And, although I love New Orleans, having to shuttle back and forth to the convention center from my hotel was a pain and the few times I had to walk the 2 miles to get to the other end of the convention center wasn’t pleasant, although admittedly the exercise was good for me Overall, though I’m glad I was able to attend.
On the first day of the conference, along with my colleagues Sheri Rawls and Cindy Handley, we presented with ConnectYard. We have been using ConnectYard for about a year to enhance the communication within our online courses. ConnectYard provides the ability to set up alternate communication channels within Blackboard so students and faculty can self-select how they would like to receive discussion postings and announcements from their courses. They can select channels such as Facebook, Twitter, cell phone text messaging, or e-mail. Feedback from our students and faculty has been overwhelmingly positive. They like the customization of the service and that it allows them to access their messages from anywhere on their mobile devices. We are currently pursuing other use cases for ConnectYard, such as for marketing and recruitment for our online programs and university wide communications among departments and online students. To view our presentation, see below.