The 2018 Teaching and Learning Conference (ANZ) had high-quality presentations with attendees from a good range of universities, VET and K-12 institutions.  Amongst the crowd were colleagues from Griffith University, seeking to get a heads-up on the changes to our virtual learning environment as we head into a “once-in-a-generation transformation of student experience” (Prof Debra Henly, DVC Academic email, 17 August 2018).

Personally, I love attending the Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conferences to meet up with colleagues from other institutions in similar roles who support the use of technologies for learning and teaching.  Actually, I love to geek out about what is new and coming soon in the world of Blackboard (yes, it is an illness) – specifically Blackboard Ultra this year.

Let’s hear what my fellow geeks (oops, I mean colleagues) have to say…

Leigh Stevenson, Manager of Academic Enterprise System Services, Office of Digital Solutions:

A very timely conference with our impending Blackboard move to SaaS and Ultra, it was great to have access to people from other Unis who are doing or have done similar…and get inside their heads!

Leigh Stevenson discussing Blackboard SaaS and Ultra strategies.

Sheila McCarthy, Innovation Projects Manager, Learning Futures:

I’m excited to see and hear about new integrations and tools that will interact with our VLE and enhance our student learning experiences.

Sheila McCarthy sharing ideas with colleagues from other institutions.

Di Selzer, Manager, Griffith Online:

Well worth it – for clarification, new ideas, networks and looking ahead rather than behind.

Di Selzer, pictured with fellow Griffith Online staff during the keynote from Professor Kevin Bell.

Zerinah Robertson, Educational Designer, Griffith Online:

It was great to hear what other institutions have been doing. I also loved the opportunity to get answers to specific questions and share our ideas about improving Blackboard with the Bb Ultra product leadership team.

Zerinah Robertson brainstorming in a group activity.

Professor Michael Sankey, Deputy Director (Learning Transformation), Learning Futures:

It was a great opportunity for the Blackboard community in Australia and New Zealand to come together to share our common interest and desire to see this product used to its best advantage. At the end of the day, the real winners will be our students.

Professor Michael Sankey getting clarity in the Q&A session.

Dr Chris Campbell, Lecturer (Learning Innovations), Learning Futures:

I particularly liked the keynote speakers. Danny Munnerley from James Cook University unpacked how the university is implementing and using Ultra. Another keynote, Kurt Fearnley spoke on his journey to be a Paralympic Gold Medallist and his crawling of the Kokoda track. He was truly inspirational and talked about expectations, but I thought underlying his presentation was grit. Overall the attending the Blackboard conference was an ultra experience.

Kurt Fearnley during his inspirational keynote presentation.

Jenny James, Learning and Teaching Consultant (Design), Griffith Business School:

My key take away, especially from the workshops that focused on this, was to improve the academic adoption and use of learning technologies at Griffith, a clear message must be provided of how the technologies fit in with the school/institutional priorities, time and resources must be allocated to academic staff, and staff need to be recognised/rewarded for their effort.

Jenny James workshopping academic adoption strategies with colleagues from Griffith and other institutions.


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Photos are courtesy of Dylan Evans Photography, official photographer of the Blackboard TLC ANZ 2018.