This photo was taken by Phil O’Hara of Dalhousie University and posted in Facebook. Phil is part of Dalhousie’s Integrated Learning Online effort. He shot this photo of Blackboard’s Ray Henderson during a KeyNote in which Ray is discussing the promises he made a year ago when he stepped in from VP of Angel to President of Blackboard’s Learn group. Ray constructed a report card style report and gave us some responses from clients like us as to how he has come along on his goals of the last year. He also did a blog post “My Freshman Year at Blackboard Concludes“.
Cynically we watched and waited this last year. Cynically I listening to the keynote up to this point, and then something like optimisim crept in as this slide came up. I fantasized that clients would be sitting in this keynote voting on Ray’s report card. That any minute now a side screen would flash a number to text with our cellphones for each of the categories in turn and we the people would say “Satisfactory” or “Needs Improvement” or “Above Expectations” to how Blackboard under Ray’s leadership has progressed in this last year.
It didn’t happen exactly like that. BUT. The feedback Ray did have from clients like us was very very good.
So a couple days later… this photo is the room of the Blackboard listening session. Happens every year. Last year’s was sort of a free-for-all with a lot of clients coming up to the microphone and railing about their support problems or other expectations that hadn’t been met. This year when Blackboard clients took the microphone many of them said positive things. Some overwhelmingly so. Support is better. Timeliness is better. Attention to release cycles vis a vis the academic calendar is better.
This is me. I’m, embarassingly enough, sharing my ‘fantasy’ at that listening session about clients being polled live for Ray’s report card. Since I was sitting down front and took the microphone right in front of Ray Henderson, Michael Chasen, and the Blackboard cohort, I didn’t see what happened after I suggested maybe next year clients do get to vote LIVE in real-time on Blackboard’s progress.
What happened was a standing ovation. The whole crowd said with me: We want to vote, we want to provide direction, for how Blackboard is doing. We want you to be brave enough and confident enough in meeting customer expectation, that you, Blackboard, do that.
It could happen. Just this week I received an email from Ben Wang of Blackboard making certain they heard me right.
So we’ll see next year at Bbworld 2011 in Las Vegas.