All of the Discussions from the BYU API University Workshop in Utah

I went to Provo Utah a couple weeks ago and participated in the sixth annual Brigham Young University (BYU) University API Workshop. I was the keynote opener for the first edition of the conference, and I was the same for the sixth edition of the event bringing together many different universities together to talk about API usage across their campuses. When the event began it was primarily BYU staff, but it has expanded to include administrators and faculty from what I counted to be over twenty other universities from across the United States--making for a pretty interesting mix of conversation from higher education API practitioners looking to solve problems, and share their stories of how APIs have help make an impact at how universities serve students and the public.

The University API Workshop is an “unConference Focused on University & Personal APIs & Their Use in Improving Learning”. It brought together around one hundred folks to discuss a wide variety of API topics. Since it was an unconference, everyone pitched their own ideas, with some of them being about sharing API knowledge, while others was about soliciting knowledge from the other attendees. Resulting in a pretty compelling list of session spread across two days. You can browse through the sessions using the Google Docs that every session organizer published. Providing a pretty compelling look at how APIs are making an impact at the higher education level, shining a light on the concerns of API stakeholders across the campus.

Session One

Session Two

Session Three

Session Four

Session Five

Session Six

Session Seven

Session Eight

Session Nine

The titles don’t do all of the discussions justice, so make sure and peek inside each of the Google Docs. I participated in as many of the talks as I could and will be doing additional posts on my Postman talk, Reclaim the API, API governance, and the Raspberry Pi session. I think overall the gathering provides a pretty compelling look into the university API landscape and showcases the challenges they face, and the problems they are looking to solve. In my experience universities aren’t always the best at telling the stories of the interesting things they are working on across campus, so this type of event is critical for helping us better understand the university API landscape.

A small API event like this in Utah is easy for many API folks in the mainstream to dismiss, but I hold this event, and what the BYU team up at the same level as just about any other event I attend as part of my global work on APIs. BYU’s CIO Kelly Flanagan (and team) has carved out the space for API exploration across campus in a way I have not seen anywhere else. I’m not exaggerating. Sure, startups like Twilio and Stripe are rocking APIs, but there is no other institution, government agency, or enterprise organization I’ve seen that has issued an API mandate like Kelly Flanagan has. If you want to truly understand the successes and challenges of doing APIs at scale across a large organization I recommend talking with the BYU team, and participating in one of the University of API gatherings—I am still learning from them after a decade of API Evangelist, and six years of being exposed to what their teams are up to.

BYU is already planning the edition of the event so feel free to reach out to them and get involved. I’m determined to get more universities involved and learn from what is happening in Utah. If you are just beginning your API journey at your school, or are curious about what it takes to jumpstart the API conversation I recommend being present next year. The event is picking up momentum, and has something for everyone. You don’t have to be a technical person to get involved. While some of the discussions are more technical, there is plenty of discussion around how APIs impact the average administrator, faculty, or student. I am going to be reaching out to more schools to get more universities represented, so if you have any ideas of who I should be reaching out to please let me know. The University of API conversation is one of the most important API discussions we need to be having in the coming decade, and it is a conversation that will continue to make an exponential impact on how our world works by equipping future generations with the tools they need to be successful in this digital world we've unleashed.