SPE Bios

A lot of the work we do from a software performance engineering perspective can come-off very empirical and scientific. Which is exactly the reason for me writing this blog. SPE, in my opinion, is one of the most exciting and interesting practices as part of software development. It’s rarely seen as having a creative aspect. I would like to put a spin on it that makes it a little more interesting and in some regards a little more life-like.

About a year ago, Nakisa and I sat down to start giving NG life. Out of her work came the biographies of about 25 characters who were a part of R9. Each of these characters represent an actor who uses Blackboard in some capacity as part of his/her daily life. Each is used to tell a story or narrative about those interactions (performance scenarios) with the product.

As we move into 9.1, we are going to be rolling out this aspect of SPE to more then just Nakisa. Each member of the North American team will be working on one or more teams and will be responsible for their contributions to our biographies. I wanted to capture a few notes about this going into 9.1.

Operational Logistics

I would like for each of the team members to introduce their cast of characters at the beginning of each sprint. Each Performance Engineer will be responsible for preparing their biographies for actors that will be utilized in their performance scenarios and narratives. We will have a team meeting in which each PE will prepare a presentation announcing and introducing their actors. In 9.1 we are looking to have 2 to possibly 3 Spring meetings. We will have 1 meeting per sprint. Characters can be reused across sprints (that’s an expectation) and can even be shared by PEs. Each PE will have to explain how each character will be a part of their work.

Giving Life

Each character will have an avatar. There are many sites out there that will create free avatars based on your input. I’ve put 4 examples below and encourage you to send other examples in if you have them. The reason for having an avatar is to give a visual presence for each character. In my mind seeing is believing.

Next, each character will have a name. We must be able to provide the character with one or more roles for their engagement in the system. Remember, the system is called Blackboard Performance University. It can be changed to a k-12 system if need be, as well as k-20. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a traditional higher education model if the features call for k-12. We will need to understand a few other things about the character:

  • How they interact with Blackboard…specifically how/why do they use Blackboard.
  • What other actors they interact with (primarily with their associations with Blackboard).
  • Their naming convention within clp-datagen

Why this is Important

There are two main reasons for building these characters. The number one and most important reason is that our actors make up gen-hierarchy. Each actor needs to be called-out and then built into clp-datagen. We can expand our existing actors and even go back and fix them in previous reasons. The main consumer of this information from a clp-datagen perspective is Cerbibo so that when they are building datagen components, they can easily understand user roles and context.

The second reason is that each character will be used for our performance scenarios (defined in our narratives) so that we can demonstrate a better understanding of how our actors interact with the system.

Sample Bio

Name Sydney Murphy
Role Teaching Assistant, Organization Administration, Outcomes Administrator and Graduate Student in the College of Arts and Sciences (Sociology)
Background Sydney started at Blackboard Performance University in the Spring of 2003 in the middle of her sophomore year. She transferred from NYU where she originally declared as a Psychology undergraduate. An illness to a family member brought Sydney back home to enroll as commuter student. By her senior year and a new major (Sociology), her family member recovered and Sydney decided to become a Resident Assistant in order to move out of her house and get free room and board. She enjoyed engaging with younger students as a mentor so much that she decided to apply for an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant position upon acceptance into the Master’s program in Sociology. That brings us to the present day, which for Sydney is the start of her 3rd out of 4th semester (2-year program).
Interactions with Blackboard Sydney is a power user of Blackboard. She has many reasons to use Blackboard as her primary web application on campus. Sydney has special access to perform tasks as both a teacher, a pseudo faculty member in outcomes and teaching assistant responsibilities in the Learning System. She has also been granted Organization owner for the Cognitive Learning Club as part of the Community System. From a traditional student sense, Sydney interacts with Bb Learn across Community, Content and Learn. Most recently she has started to use the Outcomes System for managing contributions to her thesis via Portfolio. Sydney happens to TA for the Sociology chair who teaches both undergraduate and graduate degree courses. The program contains teachers for both BA and MA. As of recent events, she has been asked to post information in the Sociology Program area on behalf of the Program Chair’s behalf. Just this morning she authored a survey to be sent out to all alumni of the Master’s Degree program that graduated within the last 5 years. Sydney has TA responsibilities for the undergraduate class that uses the Learning System quite comprehensively. She provides feedback via Discussion Boards, participates in CS Workflows, grades/reviews assignments and grades/review assessments. Often you will see her post announcements on behalf of the teacher. She tends to deal with all issues students encounter while interacting with the course. Although she is a TA, she’s been given Course Administrator responsibilities. This is something she doesn’t abuse. Sydney also uses the Community System to manage a club that she is the chair for called the Cognitive Learning Club. She uses the organization structure to manage all web communications with the members of the group. She acts as the primary content author and also keeps close tabs on all interactive communication with the club members. Most recently, her brother Kyle wrote a building block on her behalf that is a fund-raising tool. Sydney worked with BPE system administrators to test the B2, as well as deploy it. The B2 allows students to contribute their dues via Pay Pal. The B2 also keeps track of all of the accounting associated with the Club’s budget.
Patience Persona She’s moderately patient (Raccoon) given that she understands all aspects of using the system. Because she’s so savvy, she does have high expectations for response times.
Key Interactions Sydney has multiple interactions with different actors in the institution:
  • Teachers: Curriculum review (workflow), occasional content authoring and traditional student interactions with teacher (when this person is in the role of a student.
  • Students: Student feedback and student grading.
  • Observers: Review and progress of work.
  • Program Chair: Portfolio review and thesis review for her Master’s Degree.

Datagen Naming Conventionta000000001


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