Meet the Blackboard Chatbot Powered By Ivy.AI
The Student Services team is launching the service, expected to help with administrative tasks. Recruitment, enrollment and technical support are some examples. The Value Proposition of the chatbot involves the secure use of the student’s personal information to provide answer customized to the individual. As we come to expect from NLP engines, the chatbot’s performance and responsiveness is expected to improve over time.
According to the PR, the chatbot will be able to process the student’s natural language and quickly give answers to common questions and request, including scheduling and financials. This puts the technology between stage one and two in the 3-stage Bot Maturity Model proposed by Capgemini.
Blackboard Chatbot can be plugged into other technologies and systems. While not mentioned explicitly, the examples point at features commonly provided by an SIS: Admissions, financial aid, supporting and IT services.
Given Blackboard’s private company status, it is unclear whether the public will learn about eventual use and impact of the chatbot. In the past Blackboard has promoted transparency and access, especially to research based on data; it also has ceased open source initiatives, often without notice.
Award-winning Accessibility ‘Ally’ crosses 2-million download mark
Between April, 2017, when it was first launched; and last October, Blackboard Ally has reportedly been used to download 2 million “alternative formats” by LMS users. The indicator seems to signal the number of times a user has used Ally to generate an accessible version of a course content item, be it mobile-friendly HTML, audio, ePub, electronic Braille or translation. The company did not include a format breakdown for the downloads.
The PR also reports that more than 660 Higher Ed institutions are active Ally users, meaning a 30% growth in the past 12 months. 26 million courses and 825 million content items processed by Ally are also reported. Blackboard Product Management team attributes the presumed surge to the launch of Ally’s “accessiblity report,” which gives instructors and instructional designers a score for how accessible their course is, along with an item-by-item breakdown with issues to fix.
- Blackboard Ally
- Accessibility Pulse
- Find Ally as a plugin for Moodle-based LMS:
Win some (Universidad Central), lose some (Florida A&M, Indiana State)
Critically low adoption is the frequent reason why Florida A&M University explains their decision to switch from Blackboard to Instructure Canvas. The university does not require teachers to use the LMS despite the student benefits acknowledged by school officials. It is expected that faculty, many in their 70s and 80s, finds in Canvas LMS a solution to the “age gap” and increases “student-professor communication.”
Earlier, Indiana State University announced their decision to also switch away form Blackboard. No replacement has been officially proclaimed yet.
Colombia’s Universidad Central became one of the latest major Higher Ed institutions customers of Ultra, the SaaS version of Blackboard Learn. The 3-year deal includes provision of the cloud-based platform, integration with the SIS, technical support, real-time video classroom solutions through Blackboard Collaborate and plagiarism functionality via Blackboard SafeAssign. The PR follows the company’s earlier announcement to set up its Latin America headquarters in Bogotá, the country’s capital.
Blackboard sets up Latin America headquarters in Bogotá
Ready access to talent, high-growth track and sustained potential are the main reasons for this decision. In addition to the just-in Universidad Central, high-profile customers include Universidad de los Andes, Colombia’s top private university. The PR claims Blackboard’s local workforce doubled in the past year.
After the end of Moodlerooms and the Blackboard-Moodle partnership, key markets in the LMS space were left up for grabs, Latin America being the most notable. Through a series of acquisitions including Colombian Partner Nivel Siete in 2015, Blackboard became the largest Moodle Partner globally and in the region, often the only one in the country. A year after the split, it is unclear if BOLMS customers remained with Blackboard or changed Moodle services provider.
New Alexa Skill, again
Students who own the voice-activated device can shout “Alexa, what homework is due for this week?” and so on. Upcoming “skills” the device will be able to perform involve course announcement, messages and grade, the PR claims. It is currently available for
Similar functionality had been announced before. In BbWorld 2017 the company showcased 2 Alexa skills. They are not mentioned in the current release.