Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Preparing for BbWorld14

Earlier this year I presented, with two student co-presenters, a session at the Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference (BBTLC), which took place in UCD in Dublin. The presentation was based on a project that I've been involved in, along with the students, to develop a campus mobile app for students, based on the Blackboard Mosaic platform. The interesting thing about the project was that the project was entirely initiated, driven and implemented by the students.

My co-presenters, Fionn Delahunty and Darren Kelly, are both first year undergraduate students at NUI Galway. Fionn intends to major in Psychology, while Darren is a student of Biomedical Science. Neither would describe themselves as particularly technical. But they are now at the point of launching the first official mobile app for NUI Galway students.

The film crew at BBTLC
The students were excited to be going to BBTLC, which fell at an awkward time during their first year exams. Blackboard, the company, had shown some interest in the presentation, and we were able to spend some time with chatting with Alex Ackerman-Greenberg, the product manager for Mosaic. For the presentation we had a packed room, and a full film crew at the back. For two first year undergraduate students, they did amazingly well and delivered a very engaging and natural presentation. I collated the tweets from the session using storify, which give some sense of how it was received. You can find the presentation on prezi.

After the event, we got a lot of positive and useful feedback. We were very excited when we featured in a short video, embedded below, including an interview with us. From about 54 seconds in, you can see Alex Ackerman-Greenberg talking about the project.

A recording of the whole presentation then appeared on YouTube, which I still haven't managed to watch through (I hate watching myself). I am also aware that a Blackboard Whitepaper is in preparation.

But, our excitement escalated to a whole new level when we found out that our presentation received the popular vote for best session at the conference, and we were invited to take up a presentation slot at Blackboard World, to take place in Las Vegas next week. We spent some time trying to figure out if it was possible, financially, for the three of us to go. We even featured on the NUI Galway news page! But I'm really delighted to let you know that Fionn and Darren will be presenting with me next Wednesday morning at the very early hour of 8:15am in Murano 3205. If any of this blog's readers happen to be in Las Vegas, we'd love to see you there.

So, what do I hope to get out of BbWorld14? I'll only be there for a short time, and will probably be jetlagged and disorientated. From my limited knowledge, Las Vegas is a million miles from Galway (I don't mean distance, though there is a lot of travelling involved). This will be the biggest event that I have ever attended. But I do intend to make the most of every waking moment. I'm building my schedule, using the BbWorld14 app. I'm very interested to try out the new User Interface. But mostly I am looking forward to meeting a whole new set of people, including some that may already be twitter buddies.

I will certainly be tweeting lots, and also blogging about the experience - using proper English spelling, of course. Las Vegas, here we come!

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