"To support learning and technology in education through communication, collaboration, and innovation
while developing and sustaining a community of practice".
SLATE was originally created as the Midwest Blackboard Users Group, (see the article: SLATE: In the Beginning...) from the concept that all institutions that are deploying and/or currently using Web-based components to enhance their teaching and learning activities, have the same questions, the same challenges, and the need for the same solutions. By drawing together the expertise of the people involved in the entire academic experience and those designing, supporting, and using these applications; faculty support staff, systems administrators, instructional designers, librarians, and students - a broader and more accessible and dynamic support system could be established. Our current membership comes from K-12, Higher Education, and the Corporate sector.
The first group meeting was held at the University of Chicago in May of 2002. The original core of eight institutions included; The University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Moraine Valley Community College, Joliet Junior College, Purdue University Calumet, DePaul University, Northern Illinois University, and Northeastern Illinois University. That number has grown to over 80 participating institutions across the country and has gained international recognition. Regardless of the changes and expansion the group has gone through, the SLATE mission, shown above, has remained the same throughout the years.
Recognizing that any community needs to adapt and change in order to grow and continue to meet the needs of its participants, SLATE has evolved into a general LMS and teaching technologies support group. One example of that is starting to form SIG's (special interest groups) to address issues related to other widely-used LMS products (the first is a Moodle SIG) and specific audiences; faculty, media technologies, technical, and accessibility, to name a few. "It is better to keep the community united with the core values and issues that had originally brought it together - and still apply today - then to lose expertise and engagement just because the community has become diverse".
If you would be interested in participating in a SIG or have a suggestion for forming one, please contact Ken Sadowski, Executive Director, to discuss it further.
Celebrating Ten Years
Ten years ago (2002) this past spring, Ken Sadowski approached me with the idea of formalizing a growing relationship he had with colleges and universities across the Midwest. Both of us were at the University of Chicago at that time and he suggested to me that the timing seemed to be right to start a Blackboard Users’ Group. His request of me was simple, could he commit a slice of his time toward this endeavor? With little hesitation, I said “yes.”
From its monthly meetings, retreats, events and conferences, SLATE has grown into a wonderful organization of practitioners, technologists, and thought leaders dedicated to advancing learning and teaching through the appropriate integration of enterprise learning technology – and yes, a bit of buzzwordiness is appropriate.
SLATE has always looked at the big picture of learning and teaching with technology. What coalesced within its membership over the last decade is thinking around supporting all students, all educators, and all learning. SLATE has steadily focused on the success of learning supported through technology, not if or when technology for learning will succeed. This optimism is a hallmark of the organization and one that it, its members, and participating institutions and organizations can be proud of.
I was a keynote speaker at the first SLATE conference and having had the chance to see SLATE grow and evolve over the last decade I can honestly say that SLATE is time well spent. Congratulations on 10 years, SLATE. May you continue to grow and transform learning and teaching through technology to the benefit of everyone.
Solutions Director, Blackboard Consulting
Former Senior Director - Academic Technologies, The University of Chicago
Congratulations to SLATE on this, your 10th year as an organization committed to supporting learning and technology in education!
Communication and collaboration is at the heart of any effort to support learning and technology and education and SLATE has been an exemplar as a community of practice in these areas. In growing from the eight institutions to now over 80 participating institutions over the last ten years, SLATE is living its mission. Your organization has been able to build partnerships amongst specialists in our profession that not only add value to us in our daily support roles, but also enables us to see what we can be like in the future.
Thank you to everyone involved and who supports SLATE for your commitment, contributions, and continued vision to our profession.
Director, Academic Technology Services, Loyola University Chicago
General Comments on past SLATE Conference's
One of the many goals of this conference is to provide a forum where all participants are able to connect, gather new ideas, and find opportunities for future collaboration. Some of the things people have shared and commented on over the years are shown below:
• "Thanks for the opportunity to speak at SLATE. I enjoyed the time, and had some very informative discussions with some of the folks I met there. It's a very good group. Thanks for doing everything you do to sustain it."
• "Wow. SLATE gets better and better each year."
• "SLATE has always looked at the big picture of learning and teaching with technology. What coalesced within its membership over the last decade is thinking around supporting all students, all educators, and all learning.
• SLATE has steadily focused on the success of learning supported through technology, not if or when technology for learning will succeed. This optimism is a hallmark of the organization and one that it, its members, and participating institutions and organizations can be proud of.
• Congratulations on 10 years, SLATE. May you continue to grow and transform learning and teaching through technology to the benefit of everyone."
• "SLATE is living its mission of being an exemplar as a community of practice. Your organization has been able to build partnerships amongst specialists in our profession that not only add value to us in our daily support roles, but also enables us to see what we can be like in the future. Thank you to everyone involved and who supports SLATE for your commitment, contributions, and continued vision to our profession."
• “I have been to a ton of conferences – we return to SLATE each year because it has had the greatest impact on changing teacher strategies towards more engaged learning experiences for students.”
• "This was the best SLATE Conference yet. Thank you, everyone, for your hard work setting this up. The location in Naperville was an improvement with more room(s), better food and break snacks ... and I appreciate having windows in the session room walls!"
• "Thank you SLATE for going the extra mile to provide a solid return on our investment with you."
• "I thought that the SLATE Conference was just great! I especially got a lot of useful information from the Bb 9.1 sessions on Thursday. Thank you very much for all of your hard work."
• "I had a very good two days at SLATE and reminded myself to make sure I carve out time for the event and monthly meetings. It was very useful and I enjoyed it all very much."
• "Thank you very much for great conference. I really gained new knowledge and met wonderful people. I am in my office, Lawrence, KS, remembering those two days. I am grateful of all your meticulous arrangement. See you next year."
• "I haven¹t been able to attend too many of these events due to my responsibilities, but this conference was excellent. Thanks for hosting these sort of things and keeping us all informed and up-to-date."
• "You put together a great conference. Congratulations. Do you know when the presentations will be available online?"
• "I walked into my first meeting with SLATE - I believe it was the second one you held - and I immediately felt like this was a group worth spending some time with. I still feel that way."