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Blackbaud Hosts Landmark Virtual K–12 Tech Conference

Blackbaud K–12 UC boasts record number of registrants, marquee keynote speakers and sessions focused on navigating school reopening and hybrid learning 

Charleston, S.C. (July 17, 2020) — Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB), the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good, recently wrapped up its annual tech conference for K–12 private school leaders, Blackbaud K–12 UC, which took place in a completely remote environment this year. This year’s conference was free for all to attend and welcomed more than 5,000 registrants, who had the opportunity to collaborate and learn best practices from their peers, thought leaders and marquee speakers, including author and New York Times columnist Jessica Lahey, education gurus Homa Tavangar and Will Richardson, data scientist and professor Talithia Williams and leading epidemiologist and COVID-19 expert Michael Osterholm.       

“At Blackbaud, we’ve been on the frontline of supporting private K–12 schools throughout the pandemic – from quickly moving day-to-day activities online to planning for the future of the classroom,” said Travis Warren, president and GM, Blackbaud K–12 Solutions. “As COVID-19 continues to shape the landscape of education, we wanted to make this UC not only safe in a virtual environment, but also accessible to all by making it free to attend and highly valuable. The result was two action-packed days of radical collaboration and best practices all with a focus on navigating the road ahead.” 

Key themes and takeaways from the two-day event include: 

Planning for distance learning and hybrid education models for the fall

As schools look to the fall and navigating reopening, many conversations throughout the two days focused on the approach to distance learning and hybrid education models that allow for social distancing and a safe return to the classroom. 

During the Ignite Session on distance learning, Thomas de Quesada, principal at Fairfield College Preparatory School in Fairfield, Connecticut, focused on pivoting to a virtual model of teaching, learning and community. He said, “We’re not doing our job if we’re educating [students] in the way that we used to prior to this pivot to virtual learning…We need to think about what the future of education is going to look like in the now. When we come back in the fall, the fact is that the novelty and all the newness of the online instruction will have gone away…We need to think big and not be afraid to fail. In the end, the bigger we think, the more successful we’ll be. There isn’t one model that’s going to work. There’s going to need to be flexibility in the models that we deploy.”

Those sentiments were echoed throughout the two days – the need to embrace hybrid education models as a path forward and leveraging the best technology to create a seamless experience across in person and online learning.

The future of learning innovation 

This spring, Blackbaud released new competency-based education features in Blackbaud Learning Management System™ to allow teachers to assess a student’s mastery of skills on daily work through assignments. These features enable schools to break from the conventional model of stack ranking students by the points they earn, providing actionable guidance on areas of strength and opportunities for growth. This new technology proved especially timely as schools are looking to competency learning and grading as the future of learning innovation. 

The timeliness of Blackbaud’s competency-based education release was on display during the conference as sessions focused on Blackbaud Learning Management System and competency-based education best practices garnered the highest attendance. 

“Today more than ever, schools must develop flexible and creative problem solvers,” said Mike Peller, assistant head of school for teaching and learning at The White Mountain School in his presentation. “What we teach and what we assess must match the core competencies students require to become the thinkers, leaders and community members the world so desperately needs.”

During data scientist and professor Talithia Williams’ opening keynote for Day 2 of the tech conference, she pointed out another benefit of the digital classroom and competency-based education: data. As private K–12 schools embrace methodologies, such as competency-based education, school leaders will be able to use data to investigate trends in instructional gaps and even grading disparity. She presented a vision for a personalized educational recommendation system, allowing students and educators to use data to adapt the learning path to needs and demonstrated mastery of students.  

Adjusting marketing and admissions strategies for the new world

As schools have reimagined the entire school experience – from distance learning to marketing and admissions – many conversations focused on cultivating meaningful relationships with prospective and current families. With traditional methods such as campus tours on hold, school leaders and industry experts offered advice on search and social media, engaging parents in meaningful conversations, reimagining the school newsletter and strategic communications. 

During the Ignite Session focused on parent experience, Maria Bereket, digital strategist at Digital Bear Marketing, shared insights into creating intentional experiences for parents in the new COVID-19 normal. One way to do that is by reinventing the digital school newsletter powered by Blackbaud to go beyond reporting school news to focus on educational activities that parents can do at home. This shift from a marketing newsletter to one led by teacher expertise will enable parents to see the school in a new light. 

For more information about Blackbaud K–12 UC and to watch sessions on demand, visit


About Blackbaud

Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB) is the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good. Serving the entire social good community—nonprofits, higher education institutions, K–12 schools, healthcare organizations, faith communities, arts and cultural organizations, foundations, companies and individual change agents—Blackbaud connects and empowers organizations to increase their impact through cloud software, services, expertise and data intelligence. The Blackbaud portfolio is tailored to the unique needs of vertical markets, with solutions for fundraising and CRM, marketing, advocacy, peer-to-peer fundraising, corporate social responsibility, school management, ticketing, grantmaking, financial management, payment processing and analytics. Serving the industry for more than three decades, Blackbaud is headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, and has operations in the United States, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.


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