10th Durham BB Users Conference


The Tenth Annual Durham Blackboard Users’ Conference was held on Tuesday the 5th and Wednesday the 6th of January 2010, during heavy snow.


We invited presentations at this conference which explored the opportunities and challenges that social networking tools offer to the more traditional (some might say ‘monolithic’) institutional online learning environments. The following examples are meant to be illustrative rather than definitive:

  • Now that social networking tools are legion, do we still need institutional VLEs? Should we all follow the lead of Michael Wesch, abandon Blackboard and run our classes using free web-based tools such as netvibes?
  • Do students want staff to get involved in their use of tools such as facebook, or is this the quickest way to kill it off? Are there educational applications for facebook?
  • If students want to learn using their mobile phone rather than their laptop, where does that leave Blackboard?
  • What can you teach someone in 140 characters? Is Twitter just for ‘Twits’ ? – That was the word David Cameron used, wasn’t it? :^)
  • If we embrace connectivism, should we be assessing who students know rather than just what they know? I’m not suggesting you grade people by the number of friends they have in facebook, but could/should we go further than the open book exam? How could we measure this?
  • Does it matter if student learning is occurring online in places we can’t access, audit or learn from ourselves?
  • Amid all the excitement, are we forgetting to ask who is excluded from the Web 2.0 world?


Like last year, we held the sessions in the new Calman Learning Centre on the Science Campus in Durham and our hospitality dinner was held in Durham Castle.


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, they have no influence on the conference theme, the programme or the content. This long-standing e-Learning event regularly attracts over 100 delegates – last year we had to move to bigger premises because we had exceeded the old venue’s capacity! 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.


Lindsay Jordan – University Of The Arts, London 

Lindsay JordanLindsay is based at the Centre for Learning & Teaching in Art & Design at the University of the Arts London. She works with educators across the University’s colleges, including Chelsea College of Art & Design, the London College of Fashion and the London College of Communication, on collaborative educational development projects and day-to-day support in the use of institutional and external technologies for teaching and learning. Current projects Lindsay is involved with include the use of Twitter as a student research tool, Google Wave for collaboration and peer feedback, the development of online alumni networks and the use of blogs to record the creative process. A key part of her role is to review the use of Blackboard across the University and to investigate how the e-learning needs of the University can be met in the future. 

Previously Lindsay was an e-learning developer at the University of Bath, where she led the transformation of distance learning MSc programmes in the Faculty of Engineering & Design from traditional paper-based courses into interactive, collaborative learning experiences. 

Lindsay’s own studies on an MA in Education fuelled her interest in personal learning environments, and the role of social media in bridging informal and formal learning. She is indebted to her own informal online learning network, and aims to give back as much as she gains from their ideas, feedback and support – an unlikely goal, but a worthy mission.

Phil Marston – University Of Aberdeen Phil Marston

A learning technologist for the past 9 years with the Centre for Learning & Teaching at the University of Aberdeen, Phil has been involved in implementing, supporting and developing technologies to help improve learning. He has a long standing interest in game-based learning, simulations, and mobile devices – not necessarily all at the same time. He is currently seconded to the School of Education and is working on a number of projects in these areas while embarking on his PhD. 

“We have developed and supported a 72 hour flood disaster simulation, delivered using SMS, for some Applied Geomorphology students at University of Aberdeen. 

This talk will look at what was involved in the design and implementation, including some lessons learned; some of our discoveries; what the literature has to say about this and where we hope to go next. 

During the session it is hoped that there will be an opportunity to experience some of what will be talked about.”


Click link here – Conference Booklet


We offer our grateful thanks to the following institutions / companies and kindly sponsors this year’s conference:


Durham University

Durham University

Blackboard Inc


Learning Objects

Learning Objects





edutxt (txttools)


The Durham Blackboard Users’ Conference would not exist without the generosity of its sponsors. Whilst this remains an independent users’ conference, sponsorship is used to keep the registration costs for our delegates as low as possible and our thanks go out to those organisations who have agreed to provide sponsorship for our upcoming conference.


twitterWe will be tweeting about this event, as well as using it during the conference itself (more on that later). If you are tweeting, we’d like you to use the tag #durbbu10

We have also set up a twub for the event using the same tag: #durbbu10. A record of the tweets can be found at http://twapperkeeper.com/durbbu10 thanks to Jo Badge at Leicester.