I have to admit that I’ve become a bit of a BlackBoard slacker lately, even though a very large number of our faculty use it extensively. The open world of blogs, wikis and the read/write web has been much more intriguing to me than the black hole of BlackBoard.

My slackerness will change pretty dramatically in the next few weeks as we lay the groundwork for a major upgrade from version 6.0 to 7.0. The feature set will be different enough to require a major communications effort with faculty, and I’ll have to learn enough about the new tools to be a part of that conversation.

According to the Kept-Up Librarian Blackboard has announced four initiatives that have a Web 2.0 cast to them.

Global Learning Objects Catalogue, in which any Blackboard user can publish to or search for learning resources to enhance their instructional experience.

Scholar.com will provide users with the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with other experts in and outside of their discipline and fields of interest.

Blackboard announces a unique “e-Portfolios-for-life” service that will allow Blackboard users to post their portfolios to a central site for long-term use.

Create Network Learning Environments: e-Learning 2.0 is about moving beyond the course towards a more holistic conception of a networked learning environment. One consequence of this shift is a hunger by educators to conduct research and benchmark various e-Learning strategies and programs using data from peer institutions. As part of the Initiative, Blackboard announces a collaborative data warehouse service which will allow clients to anonymously share relevant data and gain better insight into best practices.

We’ll see if these initiatives get beyond the press release stage.