Author: Scott Rupp

Blackboard Debuts First Release of Blackboard Data Platform

Blackboard Inc. has announced the availability of its Blackboard Data developer tier, giving eligible institutions direct access to information to help manage and differentiate their learning ecosystem. Blackboard worked with more than 130 client developers at more than 75 institutions through global engagement events to co-develop the first Blackboard Data platform release.

The announcement was made at BbWorld 2019, Blackboard’s annual users conference that brings together educators, administrators and thought leaders, taking place July 23 through 25 in Austin, Texas.

Blackboard Logo (PRNewsFoto/Blackboard Inc.)

The first release on the Blackboard Data platform, known as the Blackboard Reporting Stack Developer Tier, will provide clients with direct access to data sets through a Snowflake data warehouse integration. Clients will also have access to the Blackboard Data User Interface, which includes a comprehensive data dictionary and integrated privacy guidance.

The goal, the company said, is to help developers and researchers answer questions to support common educational business goals. Data and tools in the Reporting Stack are now available for eligible clients using the Software as a Service (SaaS) deployment of Blackboard Learn at no additional fee.

“We have placed Blackboard Data right in the heart of our platform both architecturally and operationally,” said Rachel Scherer, senior director of analytics at Blackboard. “This means that not only can we pull data together in one single place, but we can also push it back into the learning ecosystem to make it richer with reliable in-workflow insights. Altogether, the Blackboard Data approach lets us contextualize information and provide insights to the right stakeholders at the right time.”

Blackboard Data is architected to combine activity and usage data across Blackboard’s Teaching and Learning solutions within its SaaS EdTech platform including cloud deployments of Learn, Open LMS, Collaborate, Safe Assign, Ally and the Blackboard app, with more to follow. The data is optimized for reporting and stored in a cloud data warehouse. Customers benefit from an industry-leading interface and simple integration with common business intelligence tools.

This is the first release for the Blackboard Data platform and over time the company will roll out more solutions, it said in the state announcing the launch. Following a SaaS continuous delivery model, Blackboard will expand eligibility across the company’s suite of SaaS-based products and add capabilities for more personas.

To introduce clients to Blackboard Data, Blackboard is launching the 21 Days of Blackboard Data challenge and encouraging all clients to join. Participants will have access to a demo data set with the same user interface as the Developer Tier. Interested clients may learn more and register at https://21days.blackboard.com/.

PowerSchool Launches EDGE 2020, Its Second Annual Customer Event

PowerSchool, a provider of K-12 education technology solutions, announced that it will host its second annual customer event, PowerSchool EDGE, bringing together a community of educators, thought leaders and experts who are passionate about education and the technology that powers it. The 2020 event, scheduled for March 30 – April 1 in Orlando, is expected to be bigger than the 2019 inaugural event.  

PowerSchool’s flagship customer event brings together K-12 leaders to connect, learn and grow to improve education and student outcomes. It offers two full days of insights and training to lead students, teachers, schools, and districts to success, or four days for EDGE University, which features extended, in-depth, deep-dive product training.   

“PowerSchool’s inaugural EDGE hosted around 1,000 attendees from 48 states, seven countries, and more than half of Canada’s provinces, bringing major K-12 stakeholders together to discuss the most critical topics in education today,” said Anthony Miller, PowerSchool’s chief marketing officer. “Building on the success of our inaugural event, EDGE 2020 promises to be even better—with more in-depth sessions, more certification courses covering more products, and more value for every educator.” 

EDGE provides practical training, best practices and industry-leading thought leadership insights for all levels of K-12 roles including curriculum, instruction, technology, HR and finance, as well as administrators, principals and superintendents. PowerSchool EDGE general sessions are focused on company updates, inspirational speakers and education leadership panels. Breakout sessions are broken into four main categories, including thought leadership, best practices, classes and certified training in deep-dive product courses. 

Attendees can expect to hear from leaders in more than 40 engaging breakout sessions on today’s key K-12 topics. Gain experience and expertise with hands-on learning, best practices and networking opportunities to grow and develop careers, as well as a deeper understanding of the PowerSchool road map and vision for the future.  

Registration is now open at www.powerschool.com/edge. Launch pricing and early-bird discounts are available, starting at $499 for EDGE and $1,900 for EDGE plus EDGE University. 

Ellucian Banner System Vulnerability Update

Image result for Ellucian logo

The U.S. Department of Education (Department) is working with Ellucian to clarify the previous alert from July 17, 2019. Some of the issues mentioned in the alert may be unrelated to the vulnerability (Vulnerability) for which Ellucian released a patch on May 14, 2019. The Department and Ellucian have no reason to suspect that a breach has occurred as a result of this vulnerability.

Ellucian has found that there are two separate and distinct issues that bear immediate attention:

  1. The Ellucian Banner vulnerability
  2. Fraudulent admissions applications

The Ellucian Banner Vulnerability

Who is Impacted: The vulnerability only occurs in Ellucian Banner Web Tailor versions 8.8.3, 8.8.4, and Banner Enterprise Identity Services versions 8.3, 8.3.1, 8.3.2, and 8.4. Although Banner Web Tailor 8.9 was previously listed as impacted, it is a roll-up software release that contains all patches and releases since 8.8 and is not affected. Customers not using these software versions are not impacted by this vulnerability.

Actions for Institutions Using Ellucian Banner System: Patches for this vulnerability were issued by Ellucian on May 14, 2019 and are included in all subsequent roll-up software releases. There is no indication that student or institutional data has been compromised. The patched vulnerability is extremely difficult to exploit and unlikely to occur outside of a laboratory setting. Institutions running Ellucian Banner Web Tailor versions 8.8.3, 8.8.4 or Banner Enterprise Identity Services versions 8.3, 8.3.1, 8.3.2, and 8.4 should immediately apply the previously release patches.

Fraudulent Admissions Applications:

Although it was reported that attackers can leverage the vulnerability discussed above to create accounts, Ellucian believes this is not correct. The issue described in the alert is not believed to be related to the previously patched Ellucian Banner System vulnerability and is not exclusive to institutions using Ellucian products. Attackers are utilizing bots to submit fraudulent admissions applications and obtain institution email addresses through admission application portals.

Ellucian recommends adding reCAPTCHA capabilities to the admission process to reduce the likelihood of experiencing fraudulent applications for admissions, even if institutions are not currently experiencing this issue.

For More Information:

Ellucian and the Department will continue to review this matter and update stakeholders as necessary. Additional information is available at Ellucian’s Customer Center and in Ellucian’s FAQ document.News TypeAnnouncements

Synergy SIS By Edupoint Wins “Student Information System of the Year” In 2019 EdTech Breakthrough Awards

Edupoint Educational Systems, creator of Synergy Education Platform for K-12 student information and learning management, has won the 2019 EdTech Breakthrough Awards “Student Information System Solution of the Year” for its Synergy Student Information System (SIS). EdTech Breakthrough is a leading market intelligence organization that recognizes the top companies and solutions in the global educational technology market.

“The student information system award category is hyper-competitive, and Synergy ‘breaks through’ with its deep focus on enriching the educational experience both in and out of the classroom with an incredibly robust feature set,” said James Johnson, managing director for EdTech Breakthrough. “With Synergy’s powerful student data management capabilities and full suite of mobile apps, we see the platform truly facilitating greater effectiveness, productivity, engagement, and learning. We are thrilled to recognize Edupoint as a 2019 EdTech Breakthrough Award winner.”

The EdTech Breakthrough Awards honor excellence and recognize innovation, hard work, and success in a range of educational technology categories, including Student Engagement, School Administration, Adaptive Learning, STEM Education, e-Learning, Career Preparation and many more. This year’s program attracted over 1,500 nominations from over 12 different countries worldwide.

Synergy SIS “breaks through” the field of K-12 student information systems by working as part of a comprehensive data management ecosystem, Synergy Education Platform, which is designed to work as a single, seamless solution. This major market innovation solves the data movement and integrity challenges districts face with systems assembled from disparate components.

Partner districts can easily add modules and extend functionality – including a robust gradebook and the management of online registration, curriculum, content, assessment, response to intervention, special education, and analytics – with data flowing throughout the system in real time. Synergy SIS also includes a unique suite of native, role-based mobile apps that liberate student data management from office, desk, and classroom.

Rob Wilson

“We are thrilled and honored to accept this award from EdTech Breakthrough for our Synergy Student Information System,” said Rob Wilson, president and chief innovation officer at Edupoint. “We believe that a truly robust and supportive student information system must empower educators to interact with the highest quality, real-time data when and where they need it. Everything we do at Edupoint is directed at providing innovative solutions that create real value for partner districts, and we look forward to introducing ongoing innovations within Synergy SIS to meet their evolving needs.

Organization for Educational Technology and Curriculum (OETC) Selects PowerSchool SIS To Power Member School Districts

PowerSchool, a leading provider of K-12 education technology solutions, announces that its award-winning student information system, PowerSchool SIS, has been selected by the Organization for Educational Technology and Curriculum (OETC) to power their member school districts in California, Washington, and Alaska with secure, flexible, and easy-to-use technology that plays a central role in K-12 education.

Following a rigorous competitive bid process, OETC chose PowerSchool SIS as a recommended option for members, which they can begin implementing now.

OETC Consortium is made up of more than 1,100 educational institutions across three western states. They expertly negotiate contracts on behalf of their members and make purchasing technology convenient, legal, accessible, and affordable for educational institutions. OETC’s selection makes it easier for their members to adopt PowerSchool’s reliable technology without the need to establish a competitive bid process.

“We’re delighted to be able to offer a competitively-bid PowerSchool contract to our more than 1,100 member districts, who can now experience award-winning unified solutions with a leading provider of K-12 education technology,” said Thomas Richards, executive director of OETC. “Although an SIS has been an important part of the educational marketplace for years now, more and more schools are discovering how to use that data to help students. By gaining real-time insight and pinpointing areas of weakness, schools can see enormous gains in attendance and performance.”

With PowerSchool’s industry-leading SIS at the heart of the educational ecosystem, administrators have access to all the tools they need to make sure their district or board runs smoothly. Educators experience simple scheduling, attendance, state reporting, data management, faculty management, enrollment, and more. And they can ensure their data is secure with Microsoft Azure-backed cloud hosting and adherence to the highest security standards. PowerSchool also offers the largest and most active customer community of hundreds and thousands of users for networking, learning, and best practices.

Hardeep Gulati

“PowerSchool SIS supports tens of millions of students globally and is the solution OETC members can trust to provide a fully flexible, configurable, and scalable student information system that will serve as the backbone of their education technology, and our team is committed to working with districts through every step to ensure their success at every level,” said PowerSchool CEO Hardeep Gulati. “We’re proud to work with OETC and look forward to powering their member districts with modern, integrated technology that helps educators and students realize their potential, in their way.”

Blackboard Announces Winners of 2019 Catalyst Awards

Blackboard Inc., a leading education technology company for teaching, learning and student engagement, announces the winners of the 2019 Blackboard Catalyst Awards.

Blackboard Logo (PRNewsFoto/Blackboard Inc.)

Founded in 2005, the annual Catalyst Awards recognize and honor innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice, where millions of educators and learners work every day to redefine what is possible when leveraging technology. Winners are selected by a cross-functional team of Blackboard experts. The honorees from across the globe will be recognized during Blackboard’s annual user conference BbWorld, to be held July 23-25, 2019 in Austin, TX.

“We’re thrilled to honor this year’s Blackboard Catalyst Award winners for their commitment to improving the educational experience for all learners through EdTech and sharing these insights with the broader community,” said Lee Blakemore, chief client officer and president, global markets at Blackboard. “Clients like these inspire us to accelerate innovation that drives student success and we’re proud to be a part of their story.”

Below are the winners, listed by category:

Leading Change: This award recognizes institutions that have developed practices and/or technologies that have had a measurable effect on learning outcomes, student performance, or academic progression. The winners are:

Community Engagement: This award recognizes clients who are improving student achievement by fostering a connection between school districts, institutions, educators, students, and their communities. The winners are:

Teaching & Learning: This award recognizes those who have adopted flexible, distance and online delivery, including using mobile technologies to positively impact the educational experience. The winners are:

Inclusive Education: This award honors those institutions whose methods have ensured their pedagogy, content, technology, and educational services are fully inclusive and supportive of all learners with disabilities. The winners are:

Optimizing Student Experience: This award honors those institutions whose educational and administrative innovations have markedly improved the total learner experience. The winners are:

Training & Professional Development: This award recognizes those who use Blackboard programs to support and enhance professional development within or outside of their organization. The winners are:

Student Success: This award recognizes individuals and/or institutions whose creative program application has led to increased retention, increased completion, and/or improved outcomes. The winners are:

For more information on the Blackboard Catalyst Awards and this year’s winners, visit https://community.blackboard.com/groups/catalystawards.

Tools4ever Announces New Technology Partnership With Blackboard

Tools4ever, the leading provider of identity and access management solutions in education, announces a new partnership with Blackboard Inc. The partnership brings together two market-driving education solution providers, offering mutual customers an integration of Blackboard’s flagship Learning Management Solution (LMS) Blackboard Learn Tools4ever’s two flagship solutions namely, their Identity and Access Management product (IAM) and their IDaaS product HelloID. The integration facilitates user lifecycle management across the LMS, SIS, and applications, from a single point of entry.

“We are thrilled to partner with Blackboard to offer our many mutual customers seamless integration between our products,” said Dean Wiech, managing director of Tools4ever. “For more than 20 years, we have built a stronghold in the education industry so it is critical that we partner with other market leaders, such as Blackboard, who offer an exceptional education experience for students and staff.”

Blackboard Learn and IAM

Blackboard Learn is a powerful virtual teaching and learning environment.  Its capabilities extend beyond those of a traditional learning management system (LMS) by expanding online learning, increasing employee engagement and optimizing learning outcomes. IAM connects the Student Information System (SIS) and the user accounts in the network with other systems to automate user provisioning, self-service access management, helpdesk delegation and access governance processes.

The integration will allow mutual customers to extract information from any Student Information System (SIS) and synchronize it with Blackboard Learn. For example, when a student record is created, updated, or deleted in the SIS, IAM detects the change and shares this information with Blackboard Learn. This connection prevents duplicate records, ensures information in Blackboard Learn is always up-to-date, reduces risk of error, and increases efficiency by saving the IT team valuable time.

Blackboard Learn and HelloID

The integration with Blackboard Learn also extends to Tools4ever’s cloud-based Single Sign-On (SSO) product, HelloID. Both Blackboard Learn and HelloID are deployed on the cloud, offering customers a streamlined user experience.

HelloID is a customizable and user-friendly dashboard where students and staff can access all approved teaching and learning applications, including Blackboard Learn. HelloID’s dashboard can be securely accessed from anywhere, on any device, at any time. If a student does not have access to Blackboard Learn, they can request access via the dashboard with HelloID’s Service Automation functionality. The data owner can approve this request which automatically registers in the IT infrastructure, granting the student immediate access.

Skyward’s SIS Helping Schools Create Safe and Secure Learning Environment

Are K–12 schools fully prepared for today’s digital and physical emergencies? According to a recent federal report, schools are becoming safer, partially through the proactive use of technology. Skyward, an administrative software provider committed to a better experience for every user, is helping lead improvements by encouraging school leaders to leverage an existing tool, their student information systems, to amp up security and ensure protection of their sensitive data.

Although statistics suggest schools are becoming safer, a recent poll indicates parents feel schools are less safe today than they were 20 years ago. Skyward’s SIS aims to alleviate those concerns by giving parents the ability to provide student information such as protection orders against unwanted visitors and reunification instructions to ensure students are paired with the correct guardian in the event of an emergency. Parents can also enter vital health information regarding student allergies and medications, which school staff can view and act on during medical emergencies.

“Skyward continues to help us keep students safe with speed and accuracy—the two most important factors during an emergency,” said Jacque Deckard, data management coordinator at Mooresville School Corporation in Indiana.

Skyward’s SIS also provides a real-time notification system, which can send important messages to students, parents, and staff during an emergency. Additionally, school leaders can set up an anonymous tip line within the notification system, offering individuals the opportunity to report incidents such as bullying, self-harm, and possible threats to the school.

“It’s important for our students, parents, and faculty to be heard and feel comfortable. Thanks to Skyward, this is possible because they can remain anonymous and still voice safety concerns,” said Lora Lovelace, data management coordinator at Center Grove Community Schools in Indiana.

While physical threats are at the forefront of security concerns, Skyward is continuing to protect districts against data breaches as well. In 2019, dozens of cybersecurity incidents have affected K-12 schools, and 122 similar breaches occurred at schools in 2018. By partnering with ISCorp, a hosting solution, Skyward offers districts the opportunity to host their sensitive information on a secure cloud service, which provides 24/7 monitoring and fail-safe backups.

“When students and faculty walk through school doors, they deserve to feel safe and confident their information is protected,” said Scott Glinski, CEO of Skyward. “As a system that many districts use, we recognize our role as part of the solution, which is why we will continue evolving our software to defend against all threats, both digital and physical.”

Blackboard To Welcome Education Leaders and Experts at BbWorld 2019

Educators, technology experts and industry leaders from around the world will gather in Austin, Texas, on July 22 though 25 for BbWorld and DevCon 2019. With more than 150 sessions, the four-day event will provide an unparalleled opportunity for attendees to share knowledge, promote best practices and network with peers.

Blackboard Logo (PRNewsFoto/Blackboard Inc.)

During BbWorld, K-12, higher education, business and government clients will hear the latest on Blackboard’s unique EdTech platform approach and learn how the company is driving the next wave of innovation in EdTech. In addition to the main sessions, the conference will feature DevCon, a day-and-a-half meeting aimed at developers and system administrators.

BbWorld will also feature the Executive Leadership Summit, an invitation-only event specifically designed for university leaders. Driven by leaders in education and technology, the summit will give participants unique insights and perspectives on how to prepare their institutions to be more responsive in a constantly changing world.

Key highlights include:

“I am thrilled about this year’s BbWorld as we will showcase how we are accelerating innovation and laying the foundation for the next wave of innovation in education technology,” said Bill Ballhaus, Chairman, CEO, and President at Blackboard. “BbWorld is also a unique opportunity for our client community from around the world to come together, share knowledge and discuss opportunities.”

Avaap Acquires Navigator Management Partners

Avaap, an advisory services and IT management consulting firm, announced its acquisition of Navigator Management Partners, a management and technology consulting firm specializing in ERP systems, business intelligence (BI) and change management.

The acquisition expands Avaap’s capabilities from an Infor-only consulting organization to a best-in-class cross-platform technology advisory and management consulting firm for organizations in healthcare, retail, higher education, nonprofit, government, manufacturing and other commercial industries.

Navigator is based in Columbus, OH.  Since its founding nearly two decades ago Navigator has realized success in client realization of return on investment and business benefit when implementing large IT projects, process improvements, or organizational change management support.

Avaap has more than 200 customers in 35 countries. Among the major market drivers, including ongoing pressure to improve efficiency and cut costs, increased merger and acquisition activity, and lack of skilled IT professionals, especially with BI and change management capabilities, Avaap is able to provide highly specialized industry expertise across the major enterprise applications to help customers optimize IT ecosystems, cut costs, and improve workflows.

Avaap’s mission of building deep industry expertise is further strengthened with this acquisition, the firm said.

“The acquisition of Navigator is a landmark step in Avaap’s strategic development,” said Dhiraj Shah, president and CEO, Avaap. “Digital transformation, migration to the cloud, and other industry disruptors are increasing the need for customers to seek an experienced partner that understands their business, not just the technology. Our focus is to have the leading market share in the industries we serve by providing superior end-to-end capabilities.

“This acquisition, along with the continued support from our capital partner NMS Capital, and the new partnerships we inherit, allow us to support our growth goals and extend that commitment to our largest assets; our customers and employee citizens.”

Navigator CEO David Schoettmer added, “We are two growing and profitable companies, both passionate about our shared vision and values. Joining together puts us in a stronger position to build for the future faster and better than before, combining a massive breadth of experienced resources across multiple ERP platforms, as well as BI and change management expertise.

The acquisition will allow our existing and new customers to have access to some of the best people and technologies available to address their critical missions and our employees will benefit from greatly expanded growth opportunities as part of the new company. We see strong opportunities for growth and the combined organization will enable us to have the team and resources to do so.”