WordPress integration in Blackboard Learn

When UBC transitioned from WebCT/Vista to Blackboard Learn in 2012-2013, many instructors noticed usability issues with the new platform including a non-intuitive interface and high click-rates to access features and settings. In addition, because of FIPPA restrictions, UBC had to self-host its on instance of Blackboard Learn. Performance issues and frequent crashes in the first few months of full deployment, along with the UI issues, led some instructors to consider other ways of creating and publishing course content online.

Hence the idea of integrating WordPress blogs with the LMS via a BasicLTI tool integration. UBC already had its own self-hosted WordPress instance for student and instructor blogs at blogs.ubc.ca. So all that was left was to create a means for the Tool Provider (Blogs.ubc.ca) to communicate with the Tool Consumer (UBC Connect LMS) and vice versa, via a customized BasicLTI tool. The result is that an instructor can have a private, subscriber only WordPress blog that only students from a particular course in UBC Connect can have access to (see diagram below).

wordpress-Blackboard-learn-lms-integration

In this way, an instructor is able to update all her content using the WordPress CMS which then seamlessly integrates with her Connect course which houses all the assignments, asessments and Grade center tools. Here is a breakdown of how each platform would manage the specific educational technology pieces:

WordPress CMS (Blogs.ubc.ca) Blackboard LMS (UBC Connect)
Announcements Assignment Submission areas
General course content (WP pages) Informal Assessments (Quizzes, Surveys, etc.)
Slides (.ppt, .pdf) Groups and group-related tools
Documents (.docx, .pdf) Formal assessments, including midterm and final exams
Commenting/Discussion  Grade Centre

Reflections on Mobile Learning Trends and Opportunities from mLearnCon 2013 pre-conference Google Hangout

mLearnCon

mLearnCon 2013 put on a pre-conference Google Hangout On-Air “Mobile Learning Trends and Opportunities” hosted by David Kelly from the eLearning Guild. Here are some summaries of what the participants talked about.

Brian Doegen, Senior Manager, Global Learning Technology at PwC talked about how mobile learning in the corporate context is now about Informal Experience and Performance Support. Issues and trends he mentioned were expectations of new joiners and expectations of millenials in terms of how mobile-ready the corporate learning context will be, or how corporations will deal with BYOD policies. New hires, especially millenials, want to use their own devices to learn just-in-time and on-the-job. Brian Doegen went on to ask, “Are we future proofing our capabilities”?

Clark Quinn, Executive Director at Quinnovation, who has written on Mobile Learning: Landscape and Trends, notes that mobile is a real opportunity, a platform that can support a bunch of things. It can augment formal courses but it’s not about delivering courses but rather it’s about performance support, it’s about being social. He notes that we’re still at the “shiny object stage” but there’s real opportunity to move forward.

Paul Clothier, Chief Learning Guru at TapLearn, talked about how mobile learning is an evolution of e-Learning, the next step, and how in many ways mLearning is a whole new world. Whereas eLearning is targeted at one domain, mLearning is much more ubiquitous, about performance support rather than courses on phones. From an Instructional Design point of view, we have to totally rethink how we support learning and display information. In terms of new trends, companies adopting BYODs must support them – that is opening up mLearning to a much wider audience, which brings along challenges. As well, mobile devices are an integral part of our lives – we walk around with them all the time. That brings with it a whole bunch of opportunities.

Sarah Gilbert, President of meLearning Solutions, talked about how ubiquitous smartphones help trainers be there whenever a person has a question. Now we have an opportunity to design things that answer a person’s question when they need it. That performance support can help them when they need it. Oftentimes we just need a simple text answer to our question. We shouldn’t be developing long eLearning courses, but make things available on their mobile devices. We should get rid of paper manuals, do more things with video instead of screenshots.

 Other resources on Mobile Learning from MLearnCon:

Check out the mLearnCon Hashcast

Also David Kelly’s Curated Resources