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Dear Ray
October 7, 2009 - 10:58pm

Dear Ray,

A quick note to say hello from your fans out in the higher ed. community. Hello.

As President of Blackboard's teaching and learning division, Blackboard Learn, you have strong support and a built in fan base among learning technologists. Bringing you onboard as President of Blackboard Learn was the best step that Blackboard could have taken to connect with your higher ed. learning community.

Your candor and directness in acknowledging shortcomings and complaints (see "A Gripe Session at Blackboard") are much appreciated. The blog post you did on "Grading Ourselves" was the very model of authentic and transparent communication.

Some areas that I believe you could use to build on the good will you have earned would be:

1) Blog More: Ray - we want to hear from you. Your last post to was on 9/1/09. We know that it is a challenge to find the time, but a daily note on the challenges you are facing, your thoughts on the e-learning industry, goals for supporting changes in teaching and learning, and any bits of news from the company would be greatly appreciated. Ideally your blog would turn into a two-way communication channel. Sure you may have to approve comments, and not respond to each one, but surely you would get enough insightful comments and questions to allow for productive discussion.

2) Encourage More Blackboard Bloggers: Blackboard initiated a great blogging platform. We know that the company is full of very smart and dedicated people who are personally invested in utilizing technology to transform learning and teaching. The best signal you could give to the higher ed. community would be to encourage Blackboard employees to engage in authentic conversations with the community. The more latitude you can give the Blackboard bloggers, and the more they are encouraged to become an active and public part of the discussions about the role of the CMS within learning technology, then the more useful the blog space will be. If Blackboard folks are blogging other places then please consolidate their blogs into one place so we can easily find them.

3) It's Not Just About Blogging: Buy a copy of Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies for everyone at the company. This book can be your roadmap. The authors make the point over-and-over again that social technologies can catalyze authentic conversations and strong relationships. The best people to communicate the Blackboard story and to explain where Blackboard is prioritizing its resources are the people who work for Blackboard. We want to hear from the developers, the product testers, support engineers, sales folks, business developers, and your interns. The culture of higher education values information sharing and transparency. The company lawyers and maybe the MBAs will be concerned about corporate communication. Ray - I hope you can serve as a counterbalance to these concerns, as the company will always come out ahead with more and more honest communication.

What are the 3 things that you would say to Ray?


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