Monday, May 19, 2008

Presentation Blackboard 9 - The next generation

Today Emmanuel Clemot, a Solutions Engineer from Blackboard came to Utrecht University to show off their plans for the Blackboard 9 - Next Generation product. We even got a prototype to look at, a short video will be available on the Blackboard website soon.
A few things that struck me:

- First common APIs so both products can start using intermediate tools (community, content, portfolio and outcomes system).
- Then moving features into Blackboard 8 (is already out)
- And finally building a new shell to access either Vista, Learning system or one of the other tools mentioned above...
That really means as an institution you can choose to keep the old VLEs up and running and migrate gradually. I am not quite sure I would want to, but it is possible.

Look and Feel
Slightly more confusing than Blackboard, but not a lot. Teachers will be quite happy, they will recognise the system. The drag and drop looks good, the contextual menus are alright but they do hide options until teachers find them. Fortunately NO annoying Java Applets (they have learnt their lesson).
I had a big laugh about the WebCT view and the Blackboard classic view feature.

What I like (some of its already in Bb 8) is social bookmarking (Scholar) continued, the facebook connection (though for Holland it is only a start), wikis and blog in the code, add a number of mashups, social learning space in community system, personisable pages, course homepage with more than only announcements (should Sakai or some other VLE sue them? ;-).
They claim Content System allows for student collaboration with versioning and comments. We do not use it at present and it made me rather curious.

All in all a good presentation and an interesting option for Utrecht University, certainly because it allows teachers a careful transition.

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