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)
.

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