Durham Blackboard Users' Conference

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Today I attended the Blackboard Users’ conference at Durham University. Although it is aimed at FE & HE staff that use Blackboard, it’s not intended to be entirely about Blackboard. It’s also worth mentioning that this was the second day of the 2-day conference (the first of which I did not attend).

Having braved the weather to get there I felt very well looked after by a multitude of people, although I was highly amused at being rebranded alternately as ‘Mike Clarkson’ on my name badge and as ‘Mark Clarke’ in the delegates list. Added to previous mistakes at conferences I can now legitimately claim to be Mike Clarke, Assistant Head 😀

The first session of the day was a 90 minute Blackboard sales pitch presentation. This was largely irrelevant to me, but I am looking at one trick they have used for bugtracking that could be a way to add student voice to our VLE. And I planned out 2 programming SoW :p

After that we split into three groups and chose which presentation to go to. I chose my own which was worryingly in the cavernous main lecture theatre – but as only about 15 people turned up to watch that wasn’t too much of a problem. In fairness, my limited audience were very nice, asked some good questions and almost all came to see me personally later on to tell me how much they enjoyed it and appreciated my approach.

After that, @anthonymcneill took us through his trials and tribulations trying to get 18 final year English Literature students to use Twitter as a learning tool. It was really interesting, and even though the Q&A session afterwards ran 15 minutes into lunch, everyone in the room was still paying rapt attention.

The afternoon featured a presentation about using mobile phones and branched trees to run a real-time simulation of a flooding disaster, with students making decisions that will save (or doom) the local population. Although the topic was really interesting, the presentation swayed a bit too much towards the academic and ‘paradigmy’, and less on the practical – but then that’s just me all over. I’ve certainly got a page full of notes to work through and some ideas for how to make use of the project myself.

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable day out, some brilliant ideas to think through and a number of faces put to names and new people to follow.

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