BB users conference


I really  enjoyed the first day of the Blackboard users conference in Durham. As I wrote in my last blog post, sale ed I did the presentation using Sliderocket, rx which seemed to work well. The presentation had a much richer set of images and video clips than I usually include. There were some good discussions afterwards around the themes I addressed.

The overarching theme of the talk was the notion of using the VLE as a Trojan horse. This is very relevant to us at Leicester at the moment as we are in the progress of upgrading to BB 9.1 We plan to use this time productively to take e-learning forward in the university in a number of respects. Firstly, we are currently undertaking an extensive audit of existing use of BB across the university. This includes an online survey and a series of interviews and focus groups with academics and students. Secondly, we want to get a rich picture of how BB is being used, what issues people are having and what kinds of support and additional functionality do they want. We are also asking about what other tools they are using beyond the VLE. Thirdly, the findings of this research will feed into our support and staff development for the upgrade, as well as incorporating conceptual design tools into the VLE to help guide design practice. Finally, we will also collate the results to produce a library of examples of good practice of the use of the VLE across the university. Put together, we hope that this is very much an example of a Trojan approach to increasing the uptake of e-learning across the university. Will report back in due course on how we get on! I would also be very much interested to hear how others are doing this and how successful their approaches are.

One of the areas I focused on in the talk was the relationship between institutional VLEs and free tools and resources. I argued that we should no longer be arguing about the merits of PLEs vs. VLEs, but instead should be focusing on the notion of the VLE+. I argued that Pandora’s box is well and truly open in terms of new technologies; there are now a plethora of tools to support different forms of communication, collaboration and aggregation of resources and you can be sure that our students are using these. Therefore instead of trying to lock them into only using the institutional VLE, we should be designing learning interventions, which make effective use of these cloud-based technologies, that complement the functionality and security that a VLE offers.


2 Responses to “BB users conference”

  1. Ben Samuels Says:

    One real world example of VLE+ that I encountered at the Blackboard Users Conference in Durham is something called Learning Tool Interoperability or LTI. This is a new standard that provides a way for developers to create learning applications, or tools, to connect to various VLE systems in the same way.

    The idea here is that if someone has a great idea for learning tool, a single version can be developed which will work with Blackboard, Moodle, or any other VLE that uses the standard. The goal is to create rich, seamless interaction. From the user perspective, it won’t even be apparent that they have left the VLE. Data can be passed back and forth such as user identify and credentials, enrollments, settings, grades, etc…

    One very interesting use is that students from different institutions using different VLEs can collaborate together, for example on a wiki or a peer assessment activity.

    The tools that were demonstrated at the workshop were:

    WebPA (peer assessment tool)
    Rogo (assignment and assessment tool)
    Elgg (social networking engine)

    For more information start at

  2. Gráinne Says:

    wow that sounds fantastic Ben thanks for the comment, will look into this!

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