Caitlin Oliver – Newcastle University

Durham Blackboard User’s Conference Blog

Arriving in Durham on a damp and blustery day, I made my way up to the castle to check in to my castle keep room. After climbing a seemingly never-ending staircase, I finally arrived in my top floor room and took a look out of the window. The extra cardio was worth it and the view from my room was spectacular! I left my room with a skip in my step and headed to Durham University for the 15th annual Blackboard User’s conference. On arrival, I was ‘checked in’ by some lovely staff and then made my way (with my free Durham University tote bag in hand!) to the first keynote presentation. More presentations followed and soon it was lunchtime (as they say ‘time flies when you’re having fun!’). Lunch was impressive with a huge buffet of a great selection of foods, and easily the best conference buffet I’ve ever been treated to! After lunch, I enjoyed more presentations on a wide range of topics, but one that stood out the most was delivered by a young man called Darren Kelly. He engaged the audience in a presentation about a project he had undertaken to design a ‘Campus app’ for students at The National University of Ireland, Galway. I particularly enjoyed his enthusiasm in presenting his project to us, and it was interesting to be able to compare the functionality of the app he designed to that used by Newcastle University students such as myself. Soon enough, 4pm arrived and it was my turn (along with two staff colleagues) to present. We gave our presentation and were very appreciative of the audience participation in discussion of our topic – ‘Facilitating a feedback loop through Grademark and Turning Point’. Breathing a sigh of relief after having managed to present successfully, I headed back to my lovely room in the castle and dressed for dinner. We ate a silver service dinner in the castle’s Great Hall, with candles lit and some of the best food I’ve ever had (the mango cheesecake was unbelievable!). Conversation and drinks flowing, I made it back to my room around 11pm and settled into my cosy bed for the night. I woke up early (on purpose!) the next day and managed to catch the sun rising over Durham – a photo of which got many ‘likes’ on Facebook!

Due to University commitments, I was unable to stay for the second day of the conference so I headed back to Newcastle having thoroughly enjoyed myself at the conference. So, thanks to the organisers and everyone who made it such a great experience!

P.S. my tote bag is being put to good use!