Blackboard (Bb) states that the developers conference (A.K.A. DevCon) "is the best place for technical individuals to gain insight into how Blackboard’s platform can be customized to meet specific institutional needs or integrate with existing campus systems. Get technical and tactical at DevCon while listening to lessons learned from other technical experts, including Blackboard’s own, who have successfully integrated Blackboard® software with other administrative systems and developed new pedagogical or discipline-specific educational tools. You will find the advice you need to get started with your customizations, information about extending your Blackboard® platform in new ways, advanced system administration and database tips, and exposure to new industry concepts, standards and trends."(1)
Last year was my first year attending the Blackboard developers conference and I very surprised as to how much I learned and how normal people were. I am not sure if I was expecting for people to be running around with pocket protectors and talking in strange, non-understandable language, after all this are Bb's technical aces. I am happy to report the the Bb "Experts" were on hand to talk and so were the Free Building Block developers and I could understand most of them. The presentations were excellent and the presenters were willing to answer all hundred questions I had for them. I was able to come back and put almost everything to use at Shenandoah University and the administration will tell you we now have a more robust and stable system.
While not the main reason to go to the developers conference but a good one, the exciting client party. I am not sure if Bb always does such a great client party for the "technical people" or if I was just lucky in 2011. I have never attended another conference client appreciation party and been told enjoy the rides and if you want "go jump off the building". Yes, you read it right the DevCon client party was at the Stratosphere and yes a couple of us did jump from the building while Bb was invading Vegas. Ok, so it was not a true jump (coming from a sky diver) since they had a harness on me .. but fun still the same. Lets not forget the rides Insanity, Xscream, and the Big Shot . I was lucky enough to sit on the Xscream with on of my favorite FREE building block developers Szymon Machajewski. Talk about Bb providing stress release and networking opportunities! I have been trying to guess what they could do in New Orleans..maybe a voodoo lessons, a haunted tour , an evening on Avery Island (Tabasco company), a river boat ride, alligator wrestling or maybe just give us a t-shirt.
I went to DevCon 2011 because I wanted to learn more technical items then what I found at BbWorld 2010 and to learn how to start coding my own building blocks. While I am still looking for simple instructions for a beginner building block coder, I now have developer contacts and I am sure I will get that information this year in New Orleans (#DevCon12). If your support role of Bb is more technical like a developer, server admin, system admin, networking engineer, or a database administrator; I suggest just you check out the 35 session overviews and attend the DevCon conference July 9-10 this year. Actually, since you are already there, why not just stay for #BbW12 and enjoy the networking with other Bb users and vendors.