In an earlier blog, we told you all about the sessions available at this year’s DevCon to learn about and prepare for the future direction of Blackboard Learn. That is an important and necessary part of this year’s conference. That said, Blackboard Learn Release 9.1 is the present; the platform that you support and extend every day when you get to work. In order to help you in this quest, DevCon will provide plenty of opportunities to hear from your peers and Blackboard subject matter experts talk about how to develop for and administer our flagship project.


The staple of Blackboard Developers over the past decade is the Building Block. Roughly 90% of Blackboard Learn installations have at least one client-built, partner, or open source Building Block installed therein. They have been, and will continue to be, an important part of the Blackboard Learn ecosystem. In addition, Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) is also playing a huge role in the education integration space.

Developers will have an opportunity to hear about using modern frameworks, best practices, Security tools, automated testing, and continuous integration to improve Building Block development efficiency and add skills that extend beyond the B2. We will also hear about the role faculty can play in the Building Block integration process and how others are using Blackboard provided and custom template variables to dynamically populate data at run-time.

Attendees will also have an opportunity to learn how to leverage LTI 1.1 to launch into a third-party application and return the user and grade back into Learn, as well as how to use LTI 2.0 patterned REST web services to create compelling integrations.


Administration of Blackboard Learn 9.1 plays a huge role in the work lives of the majority of DevCon attendees. As we reviewed the client proposals submitted during the call for papers, two themes quickly jumped out at us: SIS integrations, and data analytics. There is plenty of coverage for these topics, as well as other topics that affect administrators.

SIS Integrations have been a hot topic over the last several years, with multiple vendors to choose from and multiple methods of integration. Attendees to this year’s conference will have the chance to hear how others handle SIS grade exchange, how to use the SIS framework to mass-load course content and improve course cross-listing, and even the conversion process from command-line snapshot to the SIS framework without blowing up the budget.

Data analytics has a number of uses in education, and Blackboard recognizes it. Not only is analytics the basis of one of our keynotes, it is also a major theme at DevCon 2015. One of our favorite speakers on the topic, John Fritz, will pull back the curtain on the analytics strategy in use at UMBC. You will also have the opportunity to learn how to customize Blackboard Analytics for Learn with the re-architecture of the A4L Building Block and Data Warehouse in the latest release. Attendees will also hear how peers got started with data analysis and how they collect and use data with web analytics to make informed decisions.

Other topics of interest include how to create a successful clone (no sheep involved), how – and why – to use database indexes, usage analysis and system monitoring, and interpreting and visualizing Blackboard Learn access logs.


As you can see, DevCon 2015 has a lot to offer the Blackboard Learn 9.1 Administrator and Developer. You will hear a lot of talk about the future direction of Learn, and the cohesive design and integration of products, but make no mistake about it, Blackboard Learn 9.1 is just as important to Blackboard, and will continue to be.

Learn more about DevCon or register now. Then stay tuned over the next few weeks for more information about the sessions, events, and networking opportunities you can look forward to at DevCon. We’ll see you in DC!

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