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The writing's on the wall: Blackboard win WOW Award

last modified Sep 18, 2017 11:50 AM
Ally recognised for impact on student success

Since 2004, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) has presented the WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) award to colleges, universities, and organisations who implement exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to contemporary challenges in higher education. Blackboard Ally has been recognised for its impact on student success, along with Healthcare Learning Innovations, Oregon State University: 3-D Virtual Microscope, and University of Central Florida:  Universal Design Online content Inspection Tool.

“Each and every year, the WOW Awards committee has a challenging task to review outstanding proposals from across the country to select our final award recipients,” said Kara Monroe, Vice President for Academic Innovation and Support at Ivy Tech Community College, and chair of the WOW Awards committee. “This year’s four award recipients represent the entire 2017 class of proposals as an outstanding reflection of the innovation, quality, leadership and vision needed to help students, faculty, and institutions succeed in higher education today.”

Blackboard Ally is a new technology that integrates closely with the Learning Management System (LMS) and focuses on making digital course content more accessible. Blackboard Ally automatically scans course content in the LMS for accessibility issues. Within the context of the LMS, it then provides feedback to instructors about the accessibility of their content, as well as detailed guidance on how to improve the accessibility and quality of their content. Ally will also automatically generate alternative accessible versions (Semantic HTML, ePub, audio, electronic braille, etc.) for course content and will make these available to the student through the LMS. Lastly, Blackboard Ally will generate an institution-wide course content accessibility report. This enables the institution to understand how they are performing with regards to the accessibility of their course content and how they can further improve. Ultimately, Ally helps foster Universal Design thinking and can help provide access to higher quality and more usable course materials that can benefit all students.

By providing institutions and faculty with an easy to use, integrated solution, Ally can help provide the guidance and feedback necessary to improve course content and give all students access to a wider variety of course materials that may be best formatted for their unique educational style and needs. This is a type of personalisation unlike any other seen on a wide scale and has the potential to alter who can access and succeed in higher education.

The creators of the Ally product work from ideaSpace City, their former company Fronteer was acquired by Blackboard in October last year.

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