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10th Durham Blackboard Users’ Conference

January 14, 2010

This conference is organised each year by the University of Durham’s Learning Technologies Team. It’s very much an event organised by and for Blackboard Users, rather than by Blackboard Inc. I attended the 8th conference (December 2007) and the 9th (January 2009) ; both were stimulating, informative and very enjoyable events, held in a beautiful but rather icy city. I was unable to attend this year, so I missed  seeing Durham carpeted in snow (actually we had plenty of our own down South) and although it’s not the same as being there, I have started catching up with some of the presentations from, and feedback on, the conference.

The main conference website is on the Durham LTT blog – Tenth Annual Durham Blackboard User’s Conference – with links to individual presentations available from the Programme page.

The first of this year’s presentations I came across was Much ado about twitter: why students really don’t get microblogging by Tony McNeill, Kingston University, in which it is suggested that one of the main obstacles to using Twitter as a means of communication on academic modules is resistance from students – so much for the Google Generation!

A similar point is raised by John Thompson, Durham University. In Anti-social learning: is there a mismatch between web 2.0 tools and web 1.0 students? he comments that “Students keep telling me that they understand Web 2.0, yet there’s precious little evidence of this in terms of their (formal) learning practices”.

However Twitter is just one of a number of Web 2.0 tools used (successfully) by Jo Badge, University of Leicester – see
This reports on an information literacy module which encouraged students to develop their own Personal Learning Environment (PLE), with the University’s Blackboard VLE at its heart, but making use of whichever free online tools seemed most useful to the individual student.

Jo’s blog also provides a rather pessimistic report on a panel discussion led by staff from five UK universities who had upgraded to Blackboard 9.0 last summer –

Elsewhere on the web you can find a number of reports on the conference. Here are some I’ve found useful:

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