When I first joined Blackboard five years ago, I noticed everyone was talking about "BUGs". Being in software for many years, I thought that a bug was your run-of-the-mill software glitch. Then I heard about different types of BUGs – like miBUG, CSBUG or ARBug. I even heard that we were actually sending Blackboarders to these BUGs! So I realized pretty quickly that this was definitely not your typical "software bug" and I better get to the bottom of this. Lo and behold, I found out that Blackboard facilitates a plethora of BUGs – which stands for Blackboard User Groups.
AHA! The light bulb went off on top of my head. A user group – yeah, I think I've heard of those things. What do they do at them? To be honest, I didn't really have a good idea until I got to an actual User Group meeting myself a couple years later. My first one was the Pittsburgh Blackboard User Group Conference (better known as PghBUG). It was hosted by Duquesne University and WOW! I was so impressed. Here were 200 some odd people who were coming together on a campus to solely to talk about Blackboard, how they use it, what they like about it, what they don't like about it, what students get excited about, what integrations were challenging and a slew of other topics. Granted, this was a full-on conference (almost like a mini-BbWorld for a specific region). But it was so impressive! People had such great energy, they knew all their peers at institutions across town and better yet, folks were actually excited to speak with the Blackboarders who came. To me – coming from a B2B software background where you so rarely get to chat with the users – I was in heaven. And to this day, I'm still convinced that the education industry is the place to be at because of the passionate folks who comprise it.
So this year at BbWorld, you have that same opportunity. There are 23 user group meetings that are taking place during the conference. Granted, these meetings are going to be during session times and at 45 minutes a piece – so certainly it isn't the conference I went to so long ago. But how cool would it be to meet the folks who run those conferences? To meet your peers who go through the same challenges and better yet, have figured out the solutions to the questions you have? This is your chance. Grab a spoon and pick one of the 23 flavors of user group meetings taking place. What is great is these groups are organized by topic or by region – take your pick. User groups vary in size and meeting frequency. There are those that meet online in webinar format once a month (like the K-12 ANGEL User Group) or there are those who focus on one big conference a year (like T-BUG in Texas or SLATE in Illinois). There are some organized by topic like METBug (who focuses on Military Educational Training) or how Blackboard works with other technologies like the Bb-Sungard SIG (Special Interest Group). There are those that even do conferences virtually - like SWBug or CANBUG.
Now maybe you aren't going to BbWorld. You saying to yourself, this stinks -
I can't participate and meet these folks that Sahar is talking about. Not a
problem, my friend. Go to Blackboard's Connections site and
take a look. You can join a group today by signing into the site and clicking
the Join Group button. To
sign in, use your Behind the Blackboard user name and password. If you
don't have one, click on the "Sign up" link
for a Blackboard Passport account and you will be all set!
So I hope I've demystified what a "BUG" is for you. If you want a grand view of these BUGs, then go to our BbWorld Program online and use that second filter called "Search by Session Type". Pick "BbW – User Group Meetings" and you should be all set. They are all taking place during session times (except for the Keynotes) in rooms Emerald 6 & 8. And I hope to see you at one of the User Group meetings! Til then, I'm bugging out (ha ha, sorry I couldn't resist).