Born of the fire that was our upgrade to BB version 9.0, the eLearning Unit has set up a Blackboard user group for North West HE institutions. We felt strongly that other institutions using Blackboard as their VLE would be experiencing (or about to experience) many of the same problems that we had at UoL and that together we could share and present a stronger, united voice as customers and users to Blackboard as to what issues we face and how we need Blackboard to develop their product.
Blackboard encourage these regional user groups (and there are several long-standing and active groups elsewhere in the UK) so with some organisational and financial support from the company, Nick set about recruiting learning technology teams from around the region to join us at 126 Mount Pleasant.
Blackboard also indicated that they are keen to send us guest speakers to speak about any issue we would like them to cover. This can range from specialist technical presentations to learning and teaching discussions.
Summary of the Day
The inaugral meeting was held at the Confucius Centre at U0L on the 21st September 2010. Attending were learning technologists from Liverpool JMU, University of Salford, University of Cumbria and ourselves. (Interest in joining this user group has also been expressed by the Universities of Sheffield, Manchester and Laureate.)
In discussion at this first, group-forming meeting, we each described our institutional e-learning contexts, from the kinds of systems we were running to the cultures and attitudes co-existing within our institutions.
We all agreed that a group such this would be an extremely useful and that there was a positive agenda we all shared. In its early stages we would be most interested in:
- knowledge exchange (best practice in areas such as staff training)
- demonstration of new/unfamiliar tools, systems and practice
- collective identification of major Blackboard issues
- presentation from Blackboard on the planned future for their product
The next North West user group will be held soon in 2011, most likely at another institution. Please do get in touch with the eLearning Unit if you would like to know any more about this or would like something particular discussed. More details of what the group will cover will be posted to this blog closer to the time.