16th Durham Blackboard Users Conference

Conference Datesfailures2blue

The 16th Durham Blackboard Users’ Conference commenced with an “optional” free half day of pre-conference workshops and user group sessions on Wednesday, 6th January, followed by the Conference itself on Thursday, 7th and Friday, 8th January 2016!

The conference was held in the Durham University Business School on Mill Hill Lane – the pre-conference afternoon and the two day conference held  there as well.  Our hospitality evening was held in Durham Castle Great Hall.




About the Conference

This is a conference organised by the user community, for the user community. Whilst we welcome the involvement and support of Blackboard and other commercial companies sponsoring the conference, they have no influence on the conference theme, the programme or the content. Delegates are free to offer constructive praise or criticism of any product as they see fit.

This long-standing e-Learning event, in its 16th year, regularly attracts over 140 delegates – and the audience is a mix of repeat attendees and first time visitors: learning technologists, librarians, academics, administrators and even the odd manager. It is a great networking opportunity at a low price.

Our thanks go out to Durham University and to Blackboard Inc for making this conference possible.


Durham University

Durham University

Blackboard Inc



Conference Theme – Learning From Failure

This year’s theme is “learning from failure” – this was the most popular suggestion amongst delegates at last year’s Durham conference. When planning this year’s event members of the Learning Technologies Team debated whether the title should be “learning from mistakes” or “learning from failure“. In the end we decided that they are both pretty much the same thing. If you disagree submit a paper about the difference!

As ever, we are looking for a broad range of interpretations of this theme. There is a nice tie in to the field of learning analytics – learning from the perspective of the student and/or the member of staff. It also fits well to any form of reflective practice – as Samuel Smiles said in 1862 “we learn wisdom from failure much more than from success.” I think it is very unlikely that anyone who has been a Sys Admin has managed to live a life free from encounters with failure – perhaps by sharing these and the work around you developed we can all benefit. The field of learning technology is also littered with failures – either of the product, or the way we expected people to use the tools. What can we learn from these?

We are running three strands throughout the Conference – (1) Our theme “Learning From Failure”, (2) any general ELearning paper not fitting the theme and finally (3) a Technical Strand.



Eric Stoller

Eric Stoller

Our opening Keynote, Eric Stoller is a higher education thought-leader, consultant, writer, and speaker. He frequently gives keynotes on how educators can use social media for engagement, learning, and communications.

With a background in student affairs, academic advising, wellness, technology, and communications, Eric focuses his energies on educating clients and captivating audiences. As the Student Affairs and Technology blogger for Inside Higher Ed (http://insidehighered.com/blogs/student-affairs-and-technology), he generates conversations, answers questions, and provides insight about a variety of “tech topics.”

Living in London and working globally, he knows too many acronyms, drinks a lot of coffee, enjoys running, and spends a lot of time writing, speaking, and thinking about social media, digital identity, education, and technology.


Alan Masson - Blackboard

Alan Masson

Our Blackboard Keynote is Alan Masson, Head of International Customer Success at Blackboard. Dr Masson leads a team of functional experts that support the realization of institutional strategic benefits through the adoption of Blackboard solutions. Previous to this role, he spent 10 years at the University of Ulster leading the development and delivery of e-learning and support services to enhance the teaching and learning experience.

While at the University of Ulster, Dr Masson led a number of large-scale, UK nationally funded education enhancement projects. These projects focused on a range of educational enhancement themes including curriculum innovation, assessment and feedback, digital literacy, learning design and the integration of library and VLE services. He has extensive experience of delivering curriculum innovation and assessment & feedback enhancement workshops at a number of UK Universities and has acted as a critical friend to the Quality Assurance Authority (QAA).


Pre-conference Workshops

On Wednesday, 6th January 2016 we offered Conference Delegates the option of attending a free half day pre-conference session with:

  • Blackboard Learn Analytics Workshop (Richard Burrows & Andy Ramsden – Blackboard & Sandra Stevenson-Revil & Ruth Grindey – Derby – Room 454
  • Blackboard Mobile User Group (Peter Rayment and Ashley Wright) – Room 405
  • LTI: Rating Integrations from Lovely To Incredible (Stephen Vickers & Simon Booth)   – Room 453


Conference Feedback






2016 Sponsors


pebblePad Logo


Turning Technologies




A special thanks to Talis who provided the conference attendees with your conference chocolate bars!


Additional Information

Our Social Media Twitter Hashtag is #durbbu

Please note that Durham University has signed up to eduroam which you can use at the conference. Delegates will also be given a temporary Conference ID when you arrive.  Link to Internet Connection page

Here is a link to a map of Durham University  (1) Durham Business School / (23) Durham Castle.

If you are presenting – please note that we are presenting in Widescreen.

Check out our FAQ pages. If they don’t provide an answer then contact us by emailing julie.mulvey@durham.ac.uk or calling

Julie Mulvey on 0191 334 2781 or on 0779 390 6987