Monday, July 18, 2011

BBWorld 2011

It has been a long time since I have written an entry for CanvasGuy. This is because my primary roll at Westminster has changed. I am no longer working with our project based programs, instead I am working with the campus as a whole which means I’ve spent more time working with ANGEL (Blackboard).

Don’t get me wrong, I am still a huge fan of Canvas, but I am not in a position to use it regularly so I don’t have much to offer as far as new experiences and news. That is, until last week.

Last week was BBworld 2011 (Blackboard annual users conferences). At the last minute I was given permission to attend so that we can learn more about our transition from ANGEL. While we were there Instructure made an un-sponsored appearance. They rented out a bar and caused quite the stir. They had Darth Vader and Chewbacha with lightsabers, so of course they attracted a big crowd (the free drinks probably helped as well).

I enjoyed mingling with many of my friends at Instructure (shout out to: Brian, Sunny, Heather, and Matt). The atmosphere was fun and lively. There was a lot of excitement in the air. I was very impressed with the bold move to do what they did. My colleague from Westminster, Nichole, was with me and ended up winning the drawing for one of the lightsabers.

The best part of the evening came when we went back to the Blackboard party with lightsaber and free tee-shirts (that say “OMG, I cheated on Blackboard in Vegas”). Nichole was instantly inundated with people asking where she got the lightsaber. Another lightsaber showed up from the other  winner at the Instructure party and she is actually an employee of Blackboard.

During the fake sword fights and picture taking one of the Blackboard VP’s came up to us and talked to us about Instructure. He asked something to the effect of “do you think that this is a classless thing to do? If we showed up at competitor’s conference and did what they did we would be vilified.” My response to that was “The big boys can’t get away with it, but a small upstart can”. Perhaps that isn’t fair, but some companies become so big that they can’t use tactics like that. Big companies like Blackboard, Microsoft or Google become part of the “evil empire” just because they are perceived to be too big. Who wouldn’t cheer for the small band of rebels who fight the big empire? Everybody that I talked to had an opinion about Canvas and was very interested to see how they evolve over the next year and wished them a lot of success.

I tip my hat to Instructure for being gutsy enough to do what they did. Only time will tell if it was worth it. Till then, I’ll chalk this one up as a small victory for the rebellion.

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