RIM brings development to universities

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) kicked off its second annual BlackBerry Developer Conference with a bang this morning, announcing its new BlackBerry Academic Program, which brings BlackBerry application development and administration courses to colleges and universities throughout North America, as well as a new alliance with Adobe Systems.

The BlackBerry Academic Program now offers course content related to BlackBerry smartphone software development; BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) administration; and BlackBerry device support. RIM says it created the course curriculums along with a number of academic professionals, and the courses themselves have been in “pilot” or test-stages for longer than a year, with more than 500 students taking associated courses as part of the pilot.

BlackBerry development courses will include training on BlackBerry smartphone features and functionality, user interface design, multimedia application development, mobile web app and Java app development, according to RIM.

BES administration and support courses will cover all of the basics IT professionals need to know to effectively manage enterprise BlackBerry servers, RIM says.

And the new support courses will prepare students for work in technical call centres or IT support environments where they’ll support BlackBerry deployments and users.

The announcement is particularly relevant to CIOs and their IT teams, because it could drastically increase competition in the BES admin and developer spaces, since more college and university students will now be able to learn “official” BlackBerry support, admin and development skills in college, so they’re prepared to hit the ground running immediately upon graduation.

The new courses aren’t the first BlackBerry-related classes taught at North American universities, but the BlackBerry Academic Program was created and is officially endorsed by RIM.

The success of the BlackBerry Academic Program will, of course, ultimately depend on how many U.S. and Canadian universities decide to offer the courses to their students. No details on which universities and/or colleges participated in the pilot are available at this point, and it’s unclear which schools have expressed interest, if any.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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