Part 1: What has Bruce been up to?

The last year has been a total absolute blur. Between teaching at Clark Collge, working on projects at Elguji, volunteer work and more has consumed every available minute of my time. I have also been quiet on a few fronts on purpose. Let me first start with Elguji.

Elguji Software

Elguji has been very fortunate to have a loyal (and still growing) Notes and Domino customer base. While sales of our flagship IdeaJam for Domino have slowed down a bit, we are still serving dozens of customers around the globe. In fact, we are hard at work (and have been for some time) on IdeaJam 2.0. IdeaJam 2.0 is not simply an upgrade to IdeaJam 1.9.2 but, a complete re-write of the core application made to be “mobile first”. Yes, it will still be a great web application that will blow your mind and we are very excited at the progress we have made. For now just know that we have done our best to include the feedback we have received from our customers. Stay tuned for more on IdeaJam 2.0.

Where Elguji has really transformed and rolled with the times is with our “event-based” IdeaJam cloud platform. We are now providing customers around the globe with what we call “event-based” jams. These jams can be provisioned in 60 seconds or less. Jams run anywhere from 1 day to 3 months. It’s whatever the customer needs. Some of you may have seen that we are running jams for IBM Rational, IBM Websphere and IBM developerWorks. In fact, we just completed a project directed by IBM CEO Ginni Rometty. Our customer work also includes colleges and universities, branches of the US Government and many other global institutions. We couldn’t have done with without the professionals at The London Developer Co-Op.

You might ask “who is driving all of this business to Elguji?”. Let me tell you that there are two primary product evangelists for Elguji 1) IBM and 2) Existing customers. IBM is constantly referring customers to us, primarily for our event-based jams. One of the worlds largest financial institutions who will go unnamed has also sent us plenty of new customers. We are very fortunate to have such great relationships with IBM and our customers.

Elguji is also cooking up a brand new product that frankly, I’m super psyched about. It’s 1,000 times bigger than IdeaJam and I am lucky to be working with some of the brightest people in the world on it.

OpenNTF

In October I departed the world of OpenNTF and not longer after that the community which I was part of for over a dozen years gave me the most wonderful send-off I have ever seen. Dozens of blog posts, tweets and more – all with the #thanksbruce hash tag. I wanted to thank everybody sooner but as usual, life got in the way. Thank you to all my friends and colleagues for their heartfelt love on Wednesday, November  2, 2013. I owe much of my success in this world to many of you.

I am now wrapping up the development of a new website for OpenNTF with Niklas Heidloff, Per Henrik Lausten and Martin Rolph (Oval Systems). A new website was long overdue for OpenNTF and I felt compelled to see the project through it’s fruition. It will be a few more weeks before you see the new site. We are now in the user acceptance testing phase.

Once the website launches, I will remain an Honorary Board Member and continue to help support the efforts of the open source community. I do however wish that the IBM Connections team would embrace OpenNTF more than they have. It’s important for the overall IBM Collaboration Solutions app dev community more than ever. </getting off my soap box>

Part 2 coming on Monday.

What advice would you give students who are pursuing careers in web development?

Tomorrow I begin teaching the following 4 classes (80 students in total) at Clark College:

  • HTML Fundamentals (2 of these)
  • JavaScript
  • Introduction to Programming and Problem Solving (Python)

My question to you is what advice would you give these students regarding pursuing a career in web development and/or programming?

Thanks in advance for your comments.

Six months of teaching at Clark College

Back in December 2012 I wrote a post titled “A Change of Seasons” where I announced my new role as a Computer Technology instructor at Clark College. Six months later I am here to share with you some of my experiences of teaching Introduction to Programming and Problem Solving, PHP, Advanced PHP and HTML/CSS Fundamentals.

Public speaking != Classroom teaching

One of the biggest misconceptions that I had about teaching was that it would be a lot like speaking at a conference. Man was I wrong about this one. While I did employ many of the techniques that I learned as a public speaker, the classroom is and in particular “classroom management” is a totally different animal. In the classroom you are always “on” and are constantly engaging students while at the same time other students engage you. My typical classroom instructional time was 2 hours x 2 times a week for each one of the four classes I taught. For those of you math majors this works out to 15+ hours week in the classroom.

Classes extend beyond the classroom

When I went to college back in the 1980’s you attended lectures and labs. Once in a while I went to my instructors office during office hours for extra help. While I do offer office hours students rarely came in for assistance. From what I can tell this is primarily do to the fact that many of them work or have other obligations. What they did attend and which worked very well was on-line extra help using Google Hangouts and GotoMeeting. A few students preferred communicating using Skype.

Getting out of my comfort zone

This is the first time I wasn’t doing something that had the words “IBM” or “Lotus” in them. Rest assured that my students now do know a lot more about IBM and Lotus. What I was teaching them were skills and languages that were not tied to a particular vendors products. My goal was to make them “developers” rather than a (fill in the blank) developer. You can fill in the blank with any vendor name that you like.

Being named as a winner of the “Exceptional Faculty Award”

Last week at the 2013 Clark College Commencement ceremony I received along with 4 other faculty members the “Exceptional Faculty Award”. Here is what was written about me in the commencement program:

Bruce Elgort has only been teaching at Clark since winter quarter 2012, but already he has made a huge impression on his students, “I was worried when I started his class that I wouldn’t be able to learn the material or properly grasp the concepts, but after I was in Bruce’s class for an hour, I felt confident and comfortable and able to learn anything,” wrote one nominator.

While Elgort is relatively new to teaching in a college setting, he has a long career in computer technology. He has worked for major technology companies, including Sharp and Underwriters Laboratories, and launched his own successful software company. When he teaches courses about programming, HTML, and PHP coding, he brings real-life experience from the work world into his classroom – a classroom that extends into the virtual realm through help sessions conducted via social media. “In today’s hyper-connected, ‘always-on’ world, the ability to extend the physical classroom is something that has become an integral part of all my work at Clark,” Elgort says.

The Clark College Exceptional Faculty Awards are presented annually to full-time and part-time faculty members. Nominations can be submitted by Clark College students, faculty, classified employees, administrators, alumni, Board members, and Foundation directors. The awards are made possible through an endowed trust fund established by the Washington State Legislature and the Clark College Exceptional Faculty Endowment Fund, which was established in 1993. That fund provides recognition of exemplary work performance, positive impact on students, professional commitment, and other contributions to the college.

http://www.clark.edu/news_center/awards/ExceptionalFaculty2012-2013.php

This fall I will be returning to Clark to teach once again where I will be teaching JavaScript, Introduction to Programming and Problem Solving, an in-class HTML/CSS class as well as an on-line HTML/CSS class.