Saturday, July 14, 2007

I survived the developers' conference

I realise that I have been a little critical of the developers conference participants but you do have to see it to believe it. On the other hand, I would say that it has been much, much more useful to me than I expected it to be - it achieved my objectives and really did give me some things to think about. On the last day I decided to skip the keynote - Bob Alcorn on Bb System Architecture (I've seen a bit of this sort of thing before and it is one of those things where I have no clue what it is about but feel reassured that he can speak about it so confidently). Mary may post about this later, as she did go to it, but I liked her suggested subtitle for the session "How the Bb Community System ate WebCT".

Highlights for me of the sessions I attended were the UofSFlorida presentation on the building block they had used to transfer grades from the Bb gradebook into Banner (their student management system) The presenter, Glen Parker talked about systems/programming/dba stuff that I will pass straight over to Colin but what was really great were the insights he gave into how they developed their academic administrative processes to accommodate the necessary changes, dealing with exceptions, registrar engagement, business logic requirements and their emphasis on ensuring the tool was easy for academic staff to use. Interestingly in 06/07 when use of the tool by all 2,500 staff was required the levels of satisfaction were 77% satisfied or v satisified with 4% dissatisfied - which was pretty impressive. It reassured me (big time) that our proposed Bb-SI integration was definitely doable and that the benefits we anticipate are also confirmed the unavoidable truth that the technology won't be the problem but the processes on the other hand....they might be pretty challenging. Some interesting numbers, during a grading session (approx 2 wks) SF transfer approx 200,000 grades - broadly equivalent to us, possibly slightly higher in fact. They used a queuing system through a SSH tunnel directly into the Banner database (no I don't really know what that means either but thought it sounded very impressive) and Banner was able to receive approx 600 per second with no performance issues and the Bb system could send the grades a fast as Banner could get them....and probably faster still. It was really really good, more info at:

I went to a dreadful listening session about "Virtual Worlds and Bb" - "tell us what you would like to see Bb do with or in SL and other virtual worlds" - OK so I'm not at all convinced that is a valid question and puts me in mind of Andy Ramsden's idea of running walk-in Bb support for students within SL (as if students comfortable with SL would really need help with how to post to a Bb discussion board) or the completely farcical SLoodle, the mother of all technology-related portmanteaus and roughly translated as "just because you can, doesn't mean you should" but having heard some of the discussion at the session, I am absolutely certain these are not the people to ask about this....

And finally, to show that I really am down with the tech-team and have embraced this community as kindred spirits..I decided to round it all off with a session by Volker....I am fearless!!! I even have photographic evidence - I did get a bit scared when he started taking his clothes off...but that is a whole other story. Actually it was interesting, and pretty safe territory really - they were talking about how the KB Behind the Bb has been transferred into a wiki, why, how it will work, what next for development etc etc. We need to keep our eye on that cos it isn't just about and there is scope for it to do a lot more than it ever did in the past.

1 comment:

Mary said...

You can see this presentation converted to powerpoint here: