What a future, powerful, global learning platform will look & act like [Christian]

Learning from the Living [Class] Room:
A vision for a global, powerful, next generation learning platform

By Daniel Christian

NOTE: Having recently lost my Senior Instructional Designer position due to a staff reduction program, I am looking to help build such a platform as this. So if you are working on such a platform or know of someone who is, please let me know: danielchristian55@gmail.com.

I want to help people reinvent themselves quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively — while providing more choice, more control to lifelong learners. This will become critically important as artificial intelligence, robotics, algorithms, and automation continue to impact the workplace.


The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV


Learning from the Living [Class] Room:
A global, powerful, next generation learning platform


What does the vision entail?

  • A new, global, collaborative learning platform that offers more choice, more control to learners of all ages – 24×7 – and could become the organization that futurist Thomas Frey discusses here with Business Insider:

“I’ve been predicting that by 2030 the largest company on the internet is going to be an education-based company that we haven’t heard of yet,” Frey, the senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute think tank, tells Business Insider.

  • A learner-centered platform that is enabled by – and reliant upon – human beings but is backed up by a powerful suite of technologies that work together in order to help people reinvent themselves quickly, conveniently, and extremely cost-effectively
  • An AI-backed system of analyzing employment trends and opportunities will highlight those courses and “streams of content” that will help someone obtain the most in-demand skills
  • A system that tracks learning and, via Blockchain-based technologies, feeds all completed learning modules/courses into learners’ web-based learner profiles
  • A learning platform that provides customized, personalized recommendation lists – based upon the learner’s goals
  • A platform that delivers customized, personalized learning within a self-directed course (meant for those content creators who want to deliver more sophisticated courses/modules while moving people through the relevant Zones of Proximal Development)
  • Notifications and/or inspirational quotes will be available upon request to help provide motivation, encouragement, and accountability – helping learners establish habits of continual, lifelong-based learning
  • (Potentially) An online-based marketplace, matching learners with teachers, professors, and other such Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
  • (Potentially) Direct access to popular job search sites
  • (Potentially) Direct access to resources that describe what other companies do/provide and descriptions of any particular company’s culture (as described by current and former employees and freelancers)

Further details:
While basic courses will be accessible via mobile devices, the optimal learning experience will leverage two or more displays/devices. So while smaller smartphones, laptops, and/or desktop workstations will be used to communicate synchronously or asynchronously with other learners, the larger displays will deliver an excellent learning environment for times when there is:

  • A Subject Matter Expert (SME) giving a talk or making a presentation on any given topic
  • A need to display multiple things going on at once, such as:
  • The SME(s)
  • An application or multiple applications that the SME(s) are using
  • Content/resources that learners are submitting in real-time (think Bluescape, T1V, Prysm, other)
  • The ability to annotate on top of the application(s) and point to things w/in the app(s)
  • Media being used to support the presentation such as pictures, graphics, graphs, videos, simulations, animations, audio, links to other resources, GPS coordinates for an app such as Google Earth, other
  • Other attendees (think Google Hangouts, Skype, Polycom, or other videoconferencing tools)
  • An (optional) representation of the Personal Assistant (such as today’s Alexa, Siri, M, Google Assistant, etc.) that’s being employed via the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

This new learning platform will also feature:

  • Voice-based commands to drive the system (via Natural Language Processing (NLP))
  • Language translation (using techs similar to what’s being used in Translate One2One, an earpiece powered by IBM Watson)
  • Speech-to-text capabilities for use w/ chatbots, messaging, inserting discussion board postings
  • Text-to-speech capabilities as an assistive technology and also for everyone to be able to be mobile while listening to what’s been typed
  • Chatbots
    • For learning how to use the system
    • For asking questions of – and addressing any issues with – the organization owning the system (credentials, payments, obtaining technical support, etc.)
    • For asking questions within a course
  • As many profiles as needed per household
  • (Optional) Machine-to-machine-based communications to automatically launch the correct profile when the system is initiated (from one’s smartphone, laptop, workstation, and/or tablet to a receiver for the system)
  • (Optional) Voice recognition to efficiently launch the desired profile
  • (Optional) Facial recognition to efficiently launch the desired profile
  • (Optional) Upon system launch, to immediately return to where the learner previously left off
  • The capability of the webcam to recognize objects and bring up relevant resources for that object
  • A built in RSS feed aggregator – or a similar technology – to enable learners to tap into the relevant “streams of content” that are constantly flowing by them
  • Social media dashboards/portals – providing quick access to multiple sources of content and whereby learners can contribute their own “streams of content”

In the future, new forms of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR) will be integrated into this new learning environment – providing entirely new means of collaborating with one another.

Likely players:

  • Amazon – personal assistance via Alexa
  • Apple – personal assistance via Siri
  • Google – personal assistance via Google Assistant; language translation
  • Facebook — personal assistance via M
  • Microsoft – personal assistance via Cortana; language translation
  • IBM Watson – cognitive computing; language translation
  • Polycom – videoconferencing
  • Blackboard – videoconferencing, application sharing, chat, interactive whiteboard
  • T1V, Prsym, and/or Bluescape – submitting content to a digital canvas/workspace
  • Samsung, Sharp, LCD, and others – for large displays with integrated microphones, speakers, webcams, etc.
  • Feedly – RSS aggregator
  • _________ – for providing backchannels
  • _________ – for tools to create videocasts and interactive videos
  • _________ – for blogs, wikis, podcasts, journals
  • _________ – for quizzes/assessments
  • _________ – for discussion boards/forums
  • _________ – for creating AR, MR, and/or VR-based content



Blackboard Partners with IBM and Amazon Web Services (AWS) – North America Customer Announcement

Date Published: Jun 27,2016
Product: Collaborate, ANGEL, Learn, CE/Vista, Xythos, Moodlerooms, Analytics, Open Content
Article No.: 000042385

Announcement Details:
We are excited to share some news with you about Blackboard’s new partnership with IBM and Amazon Web Services (AWS) which will have far-reaching and lasting impacts for the education technology industry.  This communication will provide details on how this will benefit our customers and other business partners.

This partnership will enable us to accelerate our focus on developing innovative educational products and services that serve the needs of our customers. And it will open the door for us to develop novel solutions benefiting the education ecosystem.  There are two parts to this partnership that will benefit you:

Selection of AWS as our strategic cloud platform and partnership with IBM for operations and infrastructure management

We will partner with IBM in the operations and infrastructure management of Blackboard’s data centers.  We have also selected AWS as our cloud services provider and entered into an agreement with IBM to manage our cloud services environments. This partnership will enable Blackboard to focus on what we do best – developing innovative educational products and services – while relying on the world-class data hosting and operational capabilities of IBM and AWS.

This partnership does not affect our Transact customers.

This partnership offers customers many benefits. It will enable us to accelerate our focus on developing innovative educational products and services that serve the needs of our customers. Furthermore, we will leverage IBM’s experience, scale, and tools with the goal of  delivering the highest quality of service possible to our customers. This includes stringent service level agreements intended to ensure that Blackboard customers receive the most reliable and resilient hosting services available in the marketplace.  In addition, this partnership allows for enhanced technical, organizational and physical security measures to safeguard Blackboard customer data.  We will also leverage the power of the AWS ecosystem to accelerate product development and deployment; further improving customer experience in the future.

Our relationship with Amazon and IBM is integrated. There are no gaps in accountability for delivering reliable services to our clients.  And its backed by a comprehensive and robust set of service level commitments to deliver highly available and responsive services for you.

Exclusive partnership to co-develop cognitive education solutions utilizing Watson

Blackboard and IBM have entered into an exclusive agreement to develop cognitive educational solutions for the K-12 and higher education markets.  The partnership will combine Blackboard’s expertise in developing innovative education products in use by millions around the world, with the power of IBM Watson’s cognitive computing technology to create exclusive solutions to address some of the most pressing problems in education.

IBM Watson is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data. In short, it can help to ‘hyper personalize’ the educational experience.

To sum it up, we’re tremendously excited about partnering with IBM and Amazon to deliver extraordinary capability to our customers. And we’re excited by what’s on the horizon for Blackboard and our customers as we continue to focus on delivering innovative products that address some of the most pressing challenges in education.

To learn more about our partnership, check out our press release on Blackboard.com. We’ll also provide further details in the weeks ahead through webinars and at BbWorld.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1.  Why did Blackboard select IBM and AWS as their partners?
We spent considerable time selecting our partners, and we’re confident in what both IBM and Amazon will deliver for our customers. IBM is one of the world’s top infrastructure management organizations, and is uniquely positioned because of its experience and work in the education space. AWS is the clear leader in cloud services, with the largest global cloud infrastructure footprint, the most well-developed ecosystem, tremendous momentum and rate of innovation.Both companies share our values and dedication to maintaining the privacy of customer data, and both have invested heavily in world-class security programs to keep your data safe in accordance with global standards and regulations.

2.  Will the partnership extend to infrastructure provision and management for Blackboard’s Transact customers?
No.  Transact will continue to operate as today with no changes.

3.  How can I learn more about this partnership between Blackboard and IBM and the benefits to me?
In order to provide you with an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about this partnership and how it will benefit you, we have planned for several sessions at BbWorld, and have scheduled a series of customer webinars.  BbWorld is scheduled for July 12-14 and the webinars will be scheduled  in July and August.

4.  Will this change in responsibility affect who I call if I have a question or issue?
No.  Your support will continue to be handled by the same Blackboard team that exists today.

5.  Will I see any changes as a result of the partnership?  Yes.  We expect that you will see operational improvements starting in the 3-6 month timeframe.  These include improved system availability and accelerated response time to issues.

6.  What does this mean for Security and Privacy?
IBM and AWS share our focus on providing highly secure environments and experiences. This partnership will provide an enhanced data security program and robust technical, organizational and physical security measures to protect customer data, including student data.  Further, our agreement with IBM and AWS contains detailed provisions intended to safeguard data in North American markets in specific consideration of applicable privacy laws and regulations.   These provisions include geographic restrictions on the location and transfer of customer data, and encryption standards, to comply with applicable law.

7.  Does this partnership mean that I will need to move out of my existing Learn hosted environment?
No.  While in time many customers are planning to transition their Learn deployment to our cloud environment, customers who are currently running Learn 9.1 in our managed hosting datacenters will not be required to move.

8.  What about other Blackboard applications besides Learn?
Many other Blackboard applications are already delivered in a software-as-a-service model using Blackboard-managed datacenters. Over the coming years, IBM and Blackboard will work together to move these applications from Blackboard datacenters to AWS. Any migration plan will be developed in full consideration of giving customers an uninterrupted service and user experience.

9.  What about the current SaaS deployment for Blackboard Learn?
There is no impact.  Learn SaaS already runs on AWS.

10.  What is IBM Watson?
IBM Watson is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data. In short, it can help to ‘hyper personalize’ the educational experience.

Watson gained a level of fame in 2011 when the team put their technology up against two of Jeopardy’s greatest champions in the history of the game. It was an exciting two-day match that resulted in Watson beating out the competition – not just from right answers, but also from using the right strategy for wagers to win the game.

See how Watson beat the Jeopardy leaders in this short video.

How does Watson work? Watch this educational video.

11.  Are there any definitive plans for the cognitive education solutions developed with Watson that I need to plan for at my institution?
We are in the early stages of this relationship. Blackboard and the Watson Education team are starting the process of scoping out the solutions that will bring the most value to K-12 and higher education.  We plan to communicate our progress and solicit your input as we move forward.

12.  What if I have more questions about this partnership?
There are three ways you can get answers to your questions:

  • Attend one of the multiple sessions planned for BbWorld.
  • Attend one of the online webinars will be schedule in the coming weeks.
  • Contact your Account Executive or Customer Success Advocate.


Addendum on 6/29/16:

  • Blackboard Inc. and IBM Enter Strategic Relationship to Develop Cognitive Solutions and Manage Infrastructure Operations
    IBM and Blackboard will work collaboratively to develop cognitive educational solutions utilizing the capabilities of both companies to advance learner success. The companies will combine Blackboard’s expertise in developing innovative education products used by millions of people around the world with the power of IBM Watson’s cognitive computing technology. The new solutions will offer greater support for teachers and students to address their collaborative needs in the classroom and help students complete and achieve their educational goals.



Campus Technology 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards



In this first-ever higher education “gear of the year” guide, Campus Technology has turned to hundreds of education professionals to tell us which products in 29 categories are truly the best. We cover the gamut of technology from 3D printers to wireless access points. In almost every category you’ll find the Platinum, Gold and Silver picks to help you short-list your shopping, fuel your decision-making or perhaps start a friendly debate on campus.

  1. Learning Management and E-learning
  2. E-Portfolios
  3. Other Instructional Tools
  4. Student Information Systems and Data Management
  5. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  6. Constituent Relationship Management (CRM)
  7. Student Success/Retention
  8. Student Response Systems and Classroom Clickers
  9. Lecture Capture
  10. Document Cameras
  11. Projectors
  12. Interactive Whiteboards
  13. Videoconferencing and Web Conferencing
  14. Virtual Classroom and Meeting
  15. Classroom Audio Distribution/Sound Enhancement
  16. Captioning
  17. Office/Productivity Suites
  18. Classroom Presentation
  19. Multimedia Authoring Suites and Creative Software
  20. E-Learning Authoring
  21. Media Tablets
  22. Chromebook
  23. Windows Tablet
  24. Convertible and 2-in-1 Notebooks
  25. Notebooks
  26. Virtual Desktops and Thin Clients
  27. Wireless Access Points and Hotspots
  28. 3D Printers
  29. Emergency Notifications




Exclusive: Education company Blackboard seeks $3 billion sale – sources — from reuters.com


Blackboard Inc, a U.S. software company that provides learning tools for high school and university classrooms, is exploring a sale that it hopes could value it at as much as $3 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

Blackboard’s majority owner, private equity firm Providence Equity Partners LLC, has hired Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) and Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) to run an auction for the company, the people said this week.


New from Educause:
Higher Ed IT Buyers Guide





Quickly search 50+ product and service categories, access thousands of IT solutions specific to the higher ed community, and send multiple RFPs—all in one place. This new Buyers Guide provides a central, go-to online resource for supporting your key purchasing decisions as they relate to your campus’s strategic IT initiatives.

Find the Right Vendors for Higher Education’s Top Strategic Technologies

Three of the Top 10 Strategic Technologies identified by the higher education community this year are mobile computing, business intelligence, and business performance analytics.* The new Buyers Guide connects you to many of the IT vendors your campus can partner with in the following categories related to these leading technologies, as well as many more.

View all 50+ product and service categories.


8 surprising facts about undergrads and ed-tech — from eCampusNews.com by Meris Stansbury


It’s not every day, after scouring headlines from dozens of news sources, that news—especially education technology news—can surprise a seasoned education writer; but in recent research provided by EDUCAUSE, as well as a spiffy new infographic, many details on how undergraduate students are using ed-tech are fascinating…in that they’re not always as ‘cutting-edge’ as some may think.



Undergraduate Students & Technology
Infographic from BachelorsDegreeOnline.com




You can find a robust set of BbWorld of videos, recorded sessions and other resources here. The resources include:

  • Blackboard corporate keynote
  • 100+ recorded program sessions
  • Learn product roadmap replay
  • Keynote video by Clay Shirky

Excerpt from Learning TRENDS by Elliott Masie – February 1, 2013 (emphasis DSC)

#760 – Updates on Learning, Business & Technology.
55,887 Readers – www.masie.com – twitter: emasie – The MASIE Center.
Host: Learning Directions Blended Seminars

2. Logitech Business Camera – Skype for the Classroom! I almost never endorse or highlight a product, as Learning TRENDS is vendor-neutral. But, we have been on a quest for a simple technology that finally arrived.

We wanted a camera, with High Definition capability, that could [offer remote Pan/Tilt/Zoom (PTZ) capabilities] – and also worked perfectly with both Skype, Gmail Video as well as a capture camera for content.  Why? In all of our classrooms, we have multiple large Plama/LCD Screens and wanted to add cameras for both video conferencing, class capture and knowledge clips.  While we could mount a nice single focus camera, the PTZ capability was missing.

Logitech BCC950 Conference Cam Video Conferencing Camera is perfect! We have tested in multiple settings and are delighted with the focus, quality and ease of use in a classroom or meeting room.  It has extensions that allow it to be mounted apart from the base and it would be ideal to add video capacity to a classroom – in our effort to evolve to the “connected classroom”.  The price is around $220 and we have purchased several for our Center.


Also see:


Conference Cam

50 interesting ways to use Skype in your classroom — from edudemic.com by Jeff Dunn


I’m a so-so fan of Skype. I’ve used it on an infrequent basis and have had more than a few dropped calls. Audio and video alike. However, it’s a cheap way to make long distance calls and seems to work better over wi-fi and the video quality is improving on a regular basis. So therefore it’s probably a great tool for the classroom. But how can you use Skype to do more than just make calls? Well, there’s a pantload of interesting ways! Check out these fun ideas:


From DSC:
And for “Skype on steroids”, consider using Blackboard Collaborate:



Blackboard Collaborate - Skype on Steroids



From DSC:
I created this graphic, so I ask for
mercy from you lawyers  at
Microsoft and/or at Blackboard! 🙂



Also see:


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