WebCT Reunion–West Coast Version

For those of you who may have missed it in the Comments, Mr. Morrison posted the following about the upcoming WebCT Vancouver Reunion:

” To all those from Lynnfield/Boston who only visited Vancouver and did work… and yes I know who you are… you might want to visit Vancouver in mid August. Sat Aug 18 there will be a WebCT Vancouver reunion. Vancouver is at its best in August, so well worth a visit. And of course you’ll get to see the folks still living in Vancouver. Chloe is organizing, but I can pass your email address onto her if you don’t have hers.Of course as you know her first and last name and her account is on gmail, you can figure it out…”

WebCT Reunion Party!

Seventy-five people attended the big WebCT Reunion Party last night in Boston.  It was wonderful to see everyone from around the country and the world–current Blackboarders, people working for alliance partners and people from the Boston area who have moved on to other things.  Everyone from WebCT seems to have landed on their feet and then some.  It was especially great to see former Vancouverites John Morrison and Jonathan Abourbih and current Vancouverites Phil Chatterton, Jason Hollins and Scott Stanley.  I wish there had been a way to teleport even more Vancouver people here!

Lisa had a mild panic attack in the morning that the party was going to be a dud, but whenever you get a few ex-WebCTers together, yackety, yackety, yackety yack.  I never moved out of a corner of the room all night.  There were people I saw across the room I wanted to say hi to and missed–we were all so busy talking.

The big news of the evening was that former WebCT Lynnfield employee and party animal Somen Saha is on his way to becoming a Bollywood star.

 This one is my favorite

But they are all well worth watching–here, here, here and here.

Sheila has also already uploaded her pictures here.  Ignore the funny hats Carol, John and I are wearing, since apparently wearing funny costumes is still required of us in July.

Thanks to Blackboard for having BbWorld in Boston so we had this chance to get together, and thanks especially to Lisa Philpott, Sheila Mehta-Green, Sarah Burke and Isabella Hinds for organizing.  I’m sure it was a lot of hard work, but so worth it!

BTW==I got lots of requests for more blog posting.  I will definitely give it a try, but blogging is something I do when I’m procrastinating, so I try not to do it too much.  What is harder to explain is what procrastinating means in the context of my stated goal of “doing nothing.”

Ed Yeung

My thoughts were in Vancouver yesterday with the family and friends of Ed Yeung who were attending his memorial service.

Ed was so much a part of WebCT.  His job might have driven other people crazy. He often had developers, support and even sometimes marketing going around and around on an issue while customers clamored for answers.  Ed patiently and cheerfully wrote draft after draft, always coming out with something that was both clear and accurate.

It was a tribute to Ed that he was not just well thought of in Vancouver.  He was also liked and admired by his colleagues in Boston.  It was amazing how Ed worked so collaboratively and productively with people he never met face to face.

Like many of Ed’s work colleagues, the last news I received from him was an update from the website LinkedIn saying Ed had taken a job as a Learning Specialist.  I remember pausing during a busy day and thinking, “That will be perfect for Ed.  He will be good at that.”

When I left WebCT, Ed wrote me a note saying the thing he most remembered was me quoting Dorothy Parker, “What fresh hell is this?”  Indeed.  A world without Ed is hard to imagine and a much diminished place.   He closed his note by saying, “I will miss you.  In fact, I miss you already.”  Now I am the one left missing him.

Saying Good-bye to WebCT

Dear Colleagues–

The time has come to say good-bye.  I can honestly say I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be, even though, in its way, it’s been coming for a long time.

A huge part of what I am has been determined by what I have learned from all of you—about customers, about sales, about service, about support, about technology, about finance, about how to take the fuzziest of notions and turn it into a product and explain it to a market, about how to run a company, and most of all, about how to be in the world. More than anything else, I want to thank you for that.

Many of you have been kind enough to drop me notes about what working at WebCT has meant to you.

Some of you have talked about the company.  Kathy Vieira taught me that the heart and soul of any services organization, the magic confidence that enables consultants to go out and do their jobs, comes from knowing that someone has always got your back.  That’s the way I felt at WebCT.  I knew I lived in a strong and supportive network of people I could count on, who put the customers’ interests before their own, pulled together as a team, and always, always watched each other’s backs.

Others of you have talked about the opportunity we have had to change the world.  It’s hard to travel back 10 years and imagine a time when the most exciting content accessible on a university’s network was the menu for the dining hall–or back to a time when many people told Carol and I this notion would never stick or grow because college professors would never, ever touch technology. 

I find it overwhelming to think about the change we’ve seen in global terms.  I find it easier to think in terms of a story Lisa Philpott and Sarah Burke included in the IMPACT 2005 keynote about a middle-aged man who displayed such talent and compassion at the hospice while caring for his dying wife that the workers there urged him to change careers and become a healthcare practitioner.  He made the change while working and caring for his daughter, and never set foot on campus until the day he graduated as valedictorian of his class.  When Sarah interviewed him, he said that what made him proudest was that working at home in the evening on his computer, he was able to model for his daughter the skills, eagerness to learn and work ethic he believed she would need in her own life.  When he returned from graduation, she had created a Powerpoint presentation to offer her congratulations.

That is the sea change we have been a part of.  All of us.  And I hope each of you takes pride in your own contribution.

I want to wish every one of you the very best wherever life takes you from here. Please do not hesitate to reach out if I can ever be of any help.