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Becoming a Catalyst for Community: Blackboard's Community of Practice Initiative


"The rate of advancement in e-Learning is so rapid that educators need to be part of a dynamic community of practice to keep pace."

Dr. Shirley Waterhouse, (Bbionic Course SM Contest Judge and author of ‘The Power of e-Learning: The Essential Guide for Teaching in the Digital Age’

At Blackboard, we are focused on helping our users collaborate, innovate and share best practices. To that end, Blackboard has developed a Communities of Practice Initiative as a means of supporting the growth of the Networked Learning Environment™.

So just what are Communities of Practice anyway? We define them as groups of people who share common objectives and who interact as a means of achieving their goals. The Internet has extended the concept of communities beyond geographical limitations, creating an environment where feedback is immediate, engagements are ongoing, and faculty are fully aware of developments in real time. Because colleagues in education rely on each other so heavily, the concept of community is especially relevant in this setting.

Blackboard intends to make the fostering of communities of practice a priority. We are already proving that to existing client communities with CommunitySite SM ( This new forum is now online, serving as a central hub where members of the Blackboard community share e-learning strategies and practices, thereby deepening their knowledge and expertise in all things Blackboard.

Contacts, Courses and Contests

How else can we help you? To start, we aim to sponsor portions of user group meetings, promote those meetings, and help find subject matter experts and guest speakers. On a broader scale, Blackboard intends to serve as a catalyst for the user community by:

• Providing a matrixed forum that allows users to come together by region and/or by interest.

• Challenging teams from Blackboard institutions to submit technologically rich, pedagogically sound online courses to win one of five $5,000 awards through the Bbionic Course Contest.

• Promoting thought leadership and the adoption of e-learning technology through the Greenhouse Project SM where two $25,000 grants will be awarded.

I have been heading up this effort as Blackboard's new Manager of Blackboard Communities. My role was created specifically as a conduit between the user community and Blackboard. I will serve as both a communication mechanism and a specific point of contact in order to help institutions and individuals reap the benefits of Blackboard communities.

We encourage you to explore the new CommunitySite, and take part in Blackboard's Greenhouse Project or Bbionic Course Contest.

Author: Adrian Alleyne

19 January 2005

VLE: Blackboard



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