Blackboard (Bb) Advice and Message Threads
Bob Jensen at Trinity University

 

Table of Contents

Bob Jensen's threads on the history of course management systems are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm

Blackboard Learning System --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackboard_Learning_System

What's Next in Blackboard's World?

Moving Into Blackboard in a Big Way:  The University of Texas

Channel to the Internet

Positive Threads

Negative Threads

Training, Testimonials, and Videos 

Blackboard and Datatel Partnering

Nuventive's iWebfolio 


 

 

Learning Management Systems --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_management_system

Blackboard Still Wants to Have a Monopoly on Learning Management Systems (LMS/CMS)
Where's the government antitrust system when it's needed?
As far as its promises to keep Moodle, Moodlerooms and NetSpot unchanged, I think that really means that they will truly remain unchanged as technology progresses such that Blackboard will become the only (expensive) source for LMS/CMS systems. Bah Humbug!!!!

"Blackboard Buys 2 Leading Supporters of Open-Source Competitor Moodle," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, March 26, 2012 ---
Click Here
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/blackboard-buys-2-leading-supporters-of-open-source-competitor-moodle/35837?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

For years, colleges looking for course-management software considered a choice between Blackboard’s dominant commercial product or an open-source alternative such as Moodle or Sakai. Now Blackboard essentially owns the open-source alternatives as well.

On Monday, Blackboard officials announced that the company has purchased two leading supporters of Moodle, Moodlerooms and NetSpot. Both deals are complete, though officials would not disclose the sale prices. The company also hired one of the founders of the Sakai project to lead its efforts to support colleges using that open-source software. The moves are part of the company’s newly announced Blackboard Education Open Source Services group.

In the past Blackboard has purchased competitors and then either disbanded them, as it did with Prometheus, or merged the competing product with its own, as it did with WebCT. This time Blackboard said it is leaving the companies alone, allowing them to run under their current brand names with their existing staffs. No layoffs are anticipated, said Ray Henderson, president of academic platforms at Blackboard.

In an unexpected move, Blackboard also announced that it will continue to sell and maintain the Angel course-management system, which it bought three years ago, indefinitely. It had previously announced that Angel would be discontinued in 2014.

Blackboard has purchased so many commercial competitors over the years that college officials have long joked that it would next buy open source, too. The funny part was that such a move would be impossible, because open-source projects are built under a license that prevents any one entity from owning the code. Of course, Blackboard hasn’t bought Moodle or Sakai, but it is doing the next best thing in purchasing leading companies that support those programs and bringing in people who helped build the alternatives.

That might not amuse college officials who chose Moodle or Sakai specifically to avoid Blackboard’s orbit, said Trace A. Urdan, an analyst at Signal Hill. “People looking to open source as an alternative to Blackboard are going to be put off by it,” he said. “This is going to turn some of the Moodlerooms customers off.”

Lou Pugliese, chief executive of Moodlerooms, said in an interview late Monday that he is not worried about defectors, and instead stressed that the move will help colleges that use other Blackboard products and want to link them to Moodle.

Bradley C. Wheeler, chief information officer at Indiana University at Bloomington who has been active in the development of Sakai, said it remains to be seen whether Blackboard’s news is good or bad for the open-source software movement in academe. “Does it cause software to mature faster” because of Blackboard’s deep pockets, he asked, “or at some point and time does a value conflict arise?”

Officials from Moodlerooms, NetSpot, and Blackboard recently traveled to Australia to tell the inventor of Moodle, Martin Dougiamas, of their plans, and in a way, to ask for his blessing. He is quoted in a press release by Blackboard as saying that he will continue to consider Moodlerooms and NetSpot official Moodle partners. “The decision of Moodlerooms and NetSpot to work under Blackboard may sound very strange at first to anyone in this industry,” said Mr. Dougiamas in a statement issued by Blackboard. “But it’s my understanding that these three companies have some good plans and synergies.”

Mr. Henderson of Blackboard wrote on his blog that the meeting was “a bit surreal for all present.”

Leaders of Blackboard, Moodlerooms, and NetSpot issued a public “statement of principles” swearing commitment to supporting open-source software development.

In an interview, Mr. Henderson highlighted Blackboard’s growing diversity of products and services beyond just providing course-management software. “We are definitely keen to grow our services businesses,” he said.

It is unclear what Blackboard’s announcements today mean to new upstart providers of learning-management systems, some of which have enjoyed support of venture capitalists excited about education-technology companies.

Josh Coates, chief executive of Instructure, argued that colleges will now see the choice as between software that began development nearly a decade ago and platforms built more recently. “Moodle’s a crappy product, so people don’t want to use it,” he said in an interview Monday. “Moodle and Blackboard came from the same decade, which was a long time ago.”

Continued in article

"Open-Source Leaders Who Backed Blackboard's Moodle Move Reassure Advocates," Inside Higher Ed, March 28, 2012 --- Click Here
http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2012/03/28/open-source-leaders-who-backed-blackboards-moodle-move-reassure-advocates 
Jensen Comment
Sorry Martin! I just don't trust Blackboard promises over the long-term future, epecially after you're long gone.

"3 Reasons Why Blackboard Will Change Its Name," by Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed, March 27, 2012 --- Click Here
http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/technology-and-learning/3-reasons-why-blackboard-will-change-its-name 

Bob Jensen's threads on the history of course authoring software and LMS/CMS systems ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm

Question
What was the first LMS/CMS system sold in a box of floppy disks?

Answer
The Plato project at the University of Illinois and various military and corporate training applications entailed software development alongside applications development.  A DOS outgrowth of Plato software became known at Tencore

However, the first CMS/LMS system sold in a box of floppy disks was called Owls Guide that evolved from U.S. Navy research funding.

Following the introduction of Owl's Guide, a raft of off-the-shelf options appeared in the 1980s.  There were two types of course authoring options that are discussed below.  The Course Management System (CMS) software had many features that were not available in what Jensen and Sandlin defined as Alternative Software.  In Chapter 3, they identified ten CMS packages for computerizing complete courses.   They started with hypertext utilities and then added hypermedia authoring features in the early 1990s.  Most of the established products below have survived to 1999 with sales for corporate training, but virtually none of them ever had profitable sales to colleges and universities.  The ten leading 1994  CMS packages identified and discussed on considerable detail in Chapter 3 of Jensen and Sandlin (1994) were as follows (most of the links below probably no longer are active):

Blast from the Past
Jensen and Sandlin Book entitled Electronic Teaching and Learning: Trends in Adapting to Hypertext, Hypermedia, and Networks in Higher Education
(both the 1994 and 1997 Updated Versions)
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/245cont.htm


Blackboard Learning System --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackboard_Learning_System

Instructure --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instructure

MOOCs from Blackboard and Instructure CMS Providers
"Course-Management Companies Challenge MOOC Providers," by Alisha Azevedo, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 1, 2012 ---
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/course-management-companies-challenge-mooc-providers/40734?cid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Two software companies that sell course-management systems, Blackboard and Instructure, have entered the race to provide free online courses for the masses.

On Thursday both companies plan to announce partnerships with universities that will use their software to teach massive open online courses, or MOOC’s. The companies hope to pull in their own college clients to compete with online-education players like Udacity and Coursera.

Instructure has released a new platform called Canvas Network, which allows colleges and universities that already use the company’s learning-management system to offer free courses. A dozen institutions have already agreed to deliver courses on the platform, including Brown University and the University of Washington.

The courses, which will begin in January, are a “response to the MOOC phenomenon that’s been going on,” said Josh Coates, chief executive of Instructure. The courses—20 of them, for starters—will cover a wide range of topics, including one on college algebra and another on gender in comic books that will be co-taught by Stan Lee, who helped create Spider-Man and other characters.

“EdX and Coursera and some of the other MOOC platforms are quite exclusive,” Mr. Coates said. “They only allow Ivy League schools or research institutions to participate. We see this as a democratization of MOOC’s—we want to allow anybody to participate in online learning, and we also want them to do it their way.”

Some universities using Canvas have expressed interest in charging tuition for the online courses in the future or offering course credit for them, Mr. Coates said. The company may also expand the new Canvas Network into secondary education.

Though Blackboard’s CourseSites platform has been available for more than a year to individual instructors interested in putting their courses online free, the company planned to announce on Thursday that three universities had decided to designate Blackboard as their “default option” for MOOC’s.

Unlike Instructure, Blackboard allows any university to offer MOOC’s on its platform, even if the institutions are not Blackboard clients. Arizona State University, the State University of New York’s Buffalo State College, and the University of Illinois at Springfield chose Blackboard after considering other MOOC providers.

Instructors may be drawn toward teaching MOOC’s on those platforms rather than Udacity or Coursera because they are already familiar with the companies’ course-management software.

Because the Springfield campus has used Blackboard for years, instructors will be able to teach MOOC’s more comfortably, said Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning and director of the Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service. “There are plenty of challenges with MOOC’s, aside from just the technical challenges,” he said. “The different languages, the different cultures, serving thousands of students at a time—this platform allows us to focus our energies on those things instead.”

But some universities may decide instead to experiment to see which platform works best for them. The University of Washington and Brown University already offer MOOC’s through Coursera.

Continued in article


The Absolutely Best Education Technology News of 2010
At one point, Blackboard really wanted royalties from every distance education in the world
"Blackboard Drops Appeals on Software Patent," by Josh Keller, Chronicle of Higher Education,  November 30, 2010, 6:43 pm

Blackboard Inc.’s protracted legal fight to retain the software patent it used to successfully sue course-management rival Desire2Learn is over. It lost.

Patent No. 6,988,138 granted Blackboard the rights to course-management software in which a single user could have multiple roles in multiple courses. A federal jury in Texas ruled in 2008 that Desire2Learn had infringed the patent and ordered it to pay Blackboard $3.1-million.

But the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled later in 2008 that the patent should be invalidated because others had used similar technology to what Blackboard said it had invented. Blackboard officials vowed to have the ruling overturned on appeal.

Last week, a Blackboard representative said in an e-mail that the company had ended its appeals and that the patent had been officially terminated.

“Blackboard chose to abandon the ’138 patent in April and not pursue additional appeals,” said a spokesman, Matthew Maurer. “Upon its official termination by the USPTO earlier this month, we removed it from the Patent Pledge and stopped marking it on our products and Web site as required by law.”

This entry was posted in Legal Troubles, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Bob Jensen's threads on education technology ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/0000start.htm


"In Victory for Open-Education Movement, Blackboard Embraces Sharing," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 19, 2011 --- Click Here
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/in-victory-for-open-education-movement-blackboard-embraces-sharing/33776?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Professors who use Blackboard’s software have long been forced to lock their course materials in an area effectively marked, “For Registered Students Only,” while using the system. Today the company announced plans to add a “Share” button that will let professors make those learning materials free and open online.

The move may be the biggest sign yet that the idea of “open educational materials” is going mainstream, nearly 10 years after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology first began giving away lecture notes online. Blackboard made the change after college officials complained that the company’s software, which more than half the colleges in the country use for their online-course materials, was holding them back from trying open-education projects.

The president of Blackboard’s learning division, Ray Henderson, plans to send an e-mail to customers today that effectively modifies the company’s contract with colleges. In the old contract, colleges could have been charged extra for every additional person who viewed course materials placed on the Blackboard software platform (because license fees were set based on the number of potential users). Now that has been “liberalized” so that any outsiders who are invited to look in will not bring extra charges to a college, says Mr. Henderson. “If it’s non-revenue for you, we understand it’s going to be non-revenue for us,” he says.

Mr. Henderson said that in the past 18 to 24 months he has heard increasing requests from colleges officials to allow sharing. He said that he wanted to make the change sooner, but that it is easier for him to win the argument now that the company, which was publicly held, has been sold to a private-equity firm, Providence Equity Partners.

“This is something that is easier to do as a private company more easily than as a public company because the risk of being misunderstood by investors is less,” says Mr. Henderson. “The investor community was skeptical about that and worried” about an open policy, he says, adding that in the new ownership model, “we had to tell three people about that at Providence, who immediately got it.”

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Of course instructors will have to use caution when not owning some of their Bb file copyrights. For example, instructors cannot share textbook solutions openly with the world even though publishers allow sharing with students. The American Accounting Association allows free sharing of its journal articles for classroom purposes, but the AAA does not allow open sharing of its journals with the entire world.

Bob Jensen's threads on open sharing are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI


"Blackboard Gets Bought," Inside Higher Ed, July 5, 2011 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/07/05/blackboard_bought_by_providence_equity_partners

Blackboard, maker of the dominant online learning platform among nonprofit colleges, has been sold to Providence Equity Partners, the company announced on Friday. The announcement prompted hand-wringing from campus technology officials and reassurances from Blackboard that there are no significant changes in the offing.

“We have some concerns,” says Sam Segran, chief technology officer at Texas Tech University. “Any time somebody goes into private equity, one of the concerns we have is profit motivation and less motivation in terms of meeting educational needs.”

Blackboard’s transition from publicly traded company (its status since 2004) to private equity holding could indeed mean a greater emphasis on earnings, says Trace Urdan, a senior analyst at the investment firm Signal Hill. The new owners will not have to worry about feverishly acquiring other companies in order to make the company’s stock price go up, Urdan says. More likely, Providence will treat its new investment like a cash cow, focusing on the Blackboard products that reliably make money and possibly unloading the ones that do not.

Still, the sale of Blackboard might have a greater impact on Wall Street than on Campus Drive, experts say. The "losers" in this case may be confined to small software companies hoping to be bought out and short-sellers who bet against Blackboard.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on Blackboard ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Blackboard.htm


Edutools --- http://ocep.edutools.info/index.jsp?pj=1

WCET’s EduTools provides independent reviews, side-by-side comparisons, and consulting services to assist decision-making in the e-learning community

Course Management System – Compare reviews of the CMS products most commonly used in higher education and also used by many K-12 virtual schools
Online Course Evaluation Project – Compare reviews of online college, Advanced Placement®, and high school courses as conducted by the Monterey Institute of Technology and Education• WCALO Reviews of AP® Courses
View the results of research projects • Learning object repository software Student services products e-Learning Policies ePortfolios

Bob Jensen's threads on Tools and Tricks of the Trade ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on the history of course authoring and management software ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on education technology ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/0000start.htm


Instructure Launches To Root Blackboard Out Of Universities --- http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/31/instructure-blackboard-universities-coates/
Jensen Comment
Interestingly the above site uses a graphic on Napoleon's March Into Russia that I've featured for years at my multivariate visualization document.
Visualization of Multivariate Data (including faces) --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/352wpvisual/000datavisualization.htm 

"Upstart Course-Management Provider Goes Open Source," by Josh Keller, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 31, 2011 ---
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/upstart-course-management-provider-goes-open-source/29391?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Instructure, a course-management software company that recently won a large contract in Utah, announced on Tuesday that it would make most of its software platform available for free under an open-source license.

Instructure is one of a wave of new entrants into an increasingly competitive market for learning-management software in higher education. The company’s year-old Canvas platform allows instructors and students to manage course materials, grades, and discussions online.

In offering its basic software for free, the company could offer new competition for Moodle and Sakai, the two main existing open-source platforms. Like commercial arms of those platforms, Instructure intends to make money from colleges by supporting, hosting, and extending its software.

In December, the company won a bid to provide software to a collection of Utah colleges that serve roughly 110,000 students, provoking a lawsuit from a competitor that lost that bid, Desire2Learn. The suit was quickly withdrawn. Instructure says it has signed contracts with a total of 25 colleges.

Josh Coates, Instructure’s chief executive, promoted the platform’s ease of use and its integration with outside services like Facebook and Google Docs. “I don’t consider what we’ve done at Instructure like rocket science,” Mr. Coates said. “But it feels like it because we’re sort of working in the context of the Stone Age.”

Mr. Coates is a tech-industry veteran who started Mozy, an online file-backup start-up that sold for $76-million in 2007. He said he viewed Blackboard, long the dominant platform, as vulnerable because, he said, its software was hopelessly outdated and its patents had been rejected.

To drive home that point, Instructure released a Web video on Tuesday that spoofs Apple Computer’s famous “1984″ advertisement that introduced the Mac. In the new ad, Big Brother is represented by Blackboard in place of IBM.

Mr. Coates minced no words in describing other competitors, either. Desire2Learn is “Blackboard Jr.,” he said; Moodle is “kind of kludgy”; Sakai is “off in left field a little bit.”

Blackboard and Desire2Learn both declined to comment.

Instructure’s officials said they hope its move into open source will help the software gain visibility and convince potential clients that they will not sell to Blackboard. But the open-source platform risks cannibalizing Instructure’s paying customers, and it will require the company to  sustain an active development community around its software.

Kenneth C. Green, who directs the Campus Computing Project, said Instructure’s decision would further splinter the open-source choices available to colleges. He said Instructure was part of a “third generation” of learning-management companies that are trying to challenge Blackboard for dominance.

Continued in article

Blog Software Could Be a 'Blackboard Killer'
How to alleviate the overpricing and monopoly behavior of Blackboard course management software

"Colleges Consider Using Blogs Instead of Blackboard:  Professors at CUNY debate the pros and cons after enduring technical problems with the course-management system ," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 5, 2009 --- http://chronicle.com/free/v55/i38/38blogcms.htm?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en
Watch the video at http://chronicle.com/media/video/v55/i38/brightcove/?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

Bob Jensen's threads on education technology --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/0000start.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on the history of course management systems --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm


"Blackboard's 'Next Generation' Software Gets Mixed Reviews," by Sophia Li, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 4, 2010 ---
http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Blackboards-Next-Generation/24539/?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Bob Jensen's threads on the history of course management systems ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm


"Video: Face-Off—Moodle v. Blackboard," by Jeff Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 27, 2010 ---
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/video-face-off%e2%80%94moodle-v-blackboard/27865?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Moodle, the open-source software for managing courses, is gaining ground on Blackboard, the best-selling commercial system. Leaders from both software projects discuss coming features, including better interfaces for smartphones and integration with other education software.

Continued in article

Watch the Video

Blackboard likes the old John D. Rockefeller strategy of buying off or driving off the competition and then raising prices ---
See below


"Blackboard to Sell Online Courses Through New Partnership," by Jeff Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 13, 2010 ---
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/blackboard-to-sell-online-courses-through-new-partnership/27638?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Blackboard announced today that it is teaming up with a for-profit education provider, K12 Inc., to sell online courses to colleges that want to outsource their remedial offerings.

The companies say their plan will offer a new way for students who lack basic skills to get caught up. Blackboard would sell online courses that are designed and taught by employees of K12. The courses would be delivered on the Blackboard course-management system. It is the first time that the company has sold full courses, rather than just software to deliver them.

Exactly what courses will be offered and other details have not yet been decided, and officials say they are in the earliest stages of designing the actual product.

“We’re putting together a focus group of existing community college e-learning thinkers and deans and provosts who are very interested in solving this issue, and we’re going to work with them to figure out what this offering is,” said Matthew Small, Blackboard’s chief business officer, in an interview.

He said he hoped that the online courses would be available by next fall.

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Blackboard is not my favorite monopoly wanabes
 

Bob Jensen's threads on distance education and training alternatives ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Crossborder.htm

 


"First Reactions to Blackboard Buying Wimba and Elluminate," by Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed, July 8, 2010 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/technology_and_learning

Here I'm going on "Gut Feelings" and my "Blink" - an approach I wouldn't necessarily recommend.

I'd definitely read Ray Henderson's blog post about the acquisition - and the letter to clients is also worth your time.

I'm sure my reactions contain thoughts that will piss off everyone …. just remember that I may be wrong.

Gut Reactions:

--This is Very Smart for Blackboard: The future of the LMS involves knitting together various functions. Synchronous meetings, presence awareness, and voice-authoring/collaboration are all essential pieces of the online/hybrid learning experience. The danger for Blackboard is that their core product becomes essentially middleware - performing commodity functions such as enrollment management, gradebook, etc. etc. Tying the higher value-add services directly into the Blackboard product (as will happen over time) makes it more difficult to replace Blackboard with another LMS.

--Elluminate Needs Development: I have utilized Elluminate for Webinars, and I have to say that I find the platform lacking as compared to Adobe Connect Pro. Others will disagree - but whatever your synchronous collaboration tool preference I think you will agree that all the platforms need significant investment. I wonder how much better Elluminate will be than Adobe Connect Pro, particularly when the Adobe product is integrated with Blackboard using the building block. Even though I've never been wild about Elluminate, I think that the tool offers a quantum leap of functionality over the atrocious native Blackboard synchronous tools - and if Blackboard is smart they will quickly fold this Elluminate into their core offering.

--Wimba Voice/Chat Features Are Great: I've never quite understood why it was necessary to buy key voice and chat (presence awareness) tools on top of the LMS - but I think Wimba has been fulfilling an important need. If I were Blackboard I'd also integrate the Wimba features into the core - and make the money with services, integration, etc. etc.

--Bad News for Non-Blackboard Wimba and Elluminate Clients: I can't see how I'd be happy with this news if I'm running Moodle and Wimba or Elluminate. Ray is someone I trust - so his assurances that investments will be made to support and grow the products for non-Blackboard clients do carry a great deal of weight. Still … if I were a Moodle person I'd be reviewing my options about now.

--If You Are Worried About Lock-In, You Should Be: And you should be worried about lock-in, as it will be even more difficult to leave Blackboard once the core tool is also providing synchronous meetings and rich collaboration / student authoring functions. Many campuses will like the pre-baked integration and robust features that the eventual fully integrated products will deliver. Others will (wisely) decide to piece together open-source and consumer tools, leaving themselves with agility and flexibility.

--Kaltura or ShareStream or Ensemble Are Next: The big piece that is missing from Blackboard now is a way to do curricular media management. The Kaltura and ShareStream already offer robust Blackboard integration - wouldn't it make more sense from Blackboard's perspective if they could offer a full vertical solution - one sales cycle, one support model, one source for integration and localization?

--Good News for Blackboard Campuses (I Think): Overall, my gut tells me that this is good news for Blackboard campuses - as synchronous learning and collaboration will improve (I think) with both integration and focused resources. Getting rid of the need to have separate sales teams and back-offices, and combining developer resources, will mean more dollars and time can be spent on improving functionality. I'm also worried about lock-in, but perhaps more excited about the robust and seamless experience.

I'd also say this is good news for our industry. If I were working at Blackboard this is exactly the deal that I would have tried to arrange. This deal puts Blackboard in a very strong position in terms of their long-term relevance in higher ed, and I think addresses much of the risk that open/community source alternatives like Moodle were beginning to pose. I also believe that within 3 years time Blackboard will be acquired by Microsoft or Oracle or maybe even Google - as the education market will only grow. This acquisition will be seen as a smart move along the road to that destination.

"First Reactions to Blackboard Buying Wimba and Elluminate," by Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed, July 8, 2010 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/technology_and_learning

Here I'm going on "Gut Feelings" and my "Blink" - an approach I wouldn't necessarily recommend.

I'd definitely read Ray Henderson's blog post about the acquisition - and the letter to clients is also worth your time.

I'm sure my reactions contain thoughts that will piss off everyone …. just remember that I may be wrong.

Gut Reactions:

--This is Very Smart for Blackboard: The future of the LMS involves knitting together various functions. Synchronous meetings, presence awareness, and voice-authoring/collaboration are all essential pieces of the online/hybrid learning experience. The danger for Blackboard is that their core product becomes essentially middleware - performing commodity functions such as enrollment management, gradebook, etc. etc. Tying the higher value-add services directly into the Blackboard product (as will happen over time) makes it more difficult to replace Blackboard with another LMS.

--Elluminate Needs Development: I have utilized Elluminate for Webinars, and I have to say that I find the platform lacking as compared to Adobe Connect Pro. Others will disagree - but whatever your synchronous collaboration tool preference I think you will agree that all the platforms need significant investment. I wonder how much better Elluminate will be than Adobe Connect Pro, particularly when the Adobe product is integrated with Blackboard using the building block. Even though I've never been wild about Elluminate, I think that the tool offers a quantum leap of functionality over the atrocious native Blackboard synchronous tools - and if Blackboard is smart they will quickly fold this Elluminate into their core offering.

--Wimba Voice/Chat Features Are Great: I've never quite understood why it was necessary to buy key voice and chat (presence awareness) tools on top of the LMS - but I think Wimba has been fulfilling an important need. If I were Blackboard I'd also integrate the Wimba features into the core - and make the money with services, integration, etc. etc.

--Bad News for Non-Blackboard Wimba and Elluminate Clients: I can't see how I'd be happy with this news if I'm running Moodle and Wimba or Elluminate. Ray is someone I trust - so his assurances that investments will be made to support and grow the products for non-Blackboard clients do carry a great deal of weight. Still … if I were a Moodle person I'd be reviewing my options about now.

--If You Are Worried About Lock-In, You Should Be: And you should be worried about lock-in, as it will be even more difficult to leave Blackboard once the core tool is also providing synchronous meetings and rich collaboration / student authoring functions. Many campuses will like the pre-baked integration and robust features that the eventual fully integrated products will deliver. Others will (wisely) decide to piece together open-source and consumer tools, leaving themselves with agility and flexibility.

--Kaltura or ShareStream or Ensemble Are Next: The big piece that is missing from Blackboard now is a way to do curricular media management. The Kaltura and ShareStream already offer robust Blackboard integration - wouldn't it make more sense from Blackboard's perspective if they could offer a full vertical solution - one sales cycle, one support model, one source for integration and localization?

--Good News for Blackboard Campuses (I Think): Overall, my gut tells me that this is good news for Blackboard campuses - as synchronous learning and collaboration will improve (I think) with both integration and focused resources. Getting rid of the need to have separate sales teams and back-offices, and combining developer resources, will mean more dollars and time can be spent on improving functionality. I'm also worried about lock-in, but perhaps more excited about the robust and seamless experience.

I'd also say this is good news for our industry. If I were working at Blackboard this is exactly the deal that I would have tried to arrange. This deal puts Blackboard in a very strong position in terms of their long-term relevance in higher ed, and I think addresses much of the risk that open/community source alternatives like Moodle were beginning to pose. I also believe that within 3 years time Blackboard will be acquired by Microsoft or Oracle or maybe even Google - as the education market will only grow. This acquisition will be seen as a smart move along the road to that destination.

June 8, 2010 reply from Peters, James M [jpeters@NMHU.EDU]

Well, I come from a much different experience. I have taught with Elluminte for three years now and have been quite satisfied with the technology. We also have used Blackboard for the same period and I consider it a major disaster and I would love to drive a stake through it heart, if it has one. So, let's see how badly Blackboard can screw up Elluminate.

For example, currently, Blackboard is the only LMS that we have researched that still uses Java. This has caused a nightmare for our faculty and students because Blackboard never works with the latest Java implementations. So many faculty and students have automatic updates set up and if they do, Blackboard stops working as soon as they update their Java. One of our faculty accidently hit the Java update icon one day before class and it took our tech people 30 minutes to get him back up and running.

I do use the Elluminate link in Blackboard, but it takes a five-page handout that involves things like clearing cookies and other things in your browers as well and tinkering with security settings in your browser to work. This is a mess because we have students scattered all over Northern New Mexico that do not have the experience to start resetting their browser security settings.

Finally, in New Mexico, our implementation of Blackboard has been highly unreliable and is down nearly every week. For example, Blackboard is currently doing an "upgrade" to try to make their platform more reliable. They estimated a day downtime. They have been down for three days, have lost three weeks of data in the process, and still can't get our classes to list right. All while we are trying to teach summer classes.

From my experience, Blackboard is a disaster and needs to die. I have had very few problems with Elluminate, but I my teaching approach is pretty simple and I don't use many of the features. However, if Blackboard gets a hold of it, I am sure they will mess it up.

I need to retire fast. We already have lost one accounting faculty member who tossed in the towel over Blackboard and quite teaching. The rest of our Business Faculty would love to corner a Blackboard representative and give them an earfull. In fact, I had a Blackboard VP in my office a couple of months ago (I actually am known by name at their headquarters), along with another accounting faculty member. I commented that if I stuck my head out my door and shouted that there was a Blackboard representative present, I could not guarantee that she would make it out of the building alive. Our experience with Blackboard has been horrible with massive downtime and lost class time. Some students have left because of it and most think we are a joke as a University because of it.

Sorry to rant, but this scares the hell out of me. I do agree it is a smart move for Blackboard. They are using their size and market power to drive everyone else out of the market so they can continue to turn out and sell inferior software. The Microsoft of learning platforms.

Jim Peters

Bob Jensen's threads on Blackboard are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Blackboard.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on social networking are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListservRoles.htm

 


I think I'll have a dry martini tonight just to celebrate the Evil Empire's loss
"Blackboard Loses on Appeal," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, July 28, 2009 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/07/28/blackboard

A federal appeals court on Monday invalidated Blackboard Inc.'s 1999 patent for its learning management software, overturning a lower court's decision last year finding that the Blackboard competitor Desire2Learn had infringed the giant's intellectual property.

Blackboard officials expressed disappointment but played down the significance of the ruling by the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, saying that new patents gained by the company -- which Blackboard has again accused Desire2Learn of infringing

"The Federal Circuit’s decision does not affect Blackboard’s other patents or other efforts currently open in our effort to resolve the intellectual property disagreement we have with Desire2Learn," Matt Small, Blackboard's chief business officer, said in a prepared statement. "In fact, the issues raised by the Federal Circuit are not present in our other patents. Disputes like these have many steps and take a significant amount of time to resolve."

Desire2Learn, not surprisingly, had a very different take on the matter. "Given what we've been through in this lawsuit, to have it completely 180 degree reversed is a really big deal," said John McLeod, director of marketing for Desire2Learn. "To say the mood in the office is elated would be an understatement."

Monday's ruling by the appeals court is the latest development in a several-year court battle initiated by Blackboard in July 2006. The behemoth accused Desire2Learn of infringing dozens of Blackboard patents for online course management and e-learning technologies, and sought $17 million in damages and an injunction barring the Canadian company from continuing to infringe the patent.

After a two-week trial in Lufkin, Tex., a jury in a district court seen as friendly to patent holders ruled that Desire2Learn's learning platform used technologies for which Blackboard received U.S. patents, known collectively as the " '138 patent," in January 2006. But its verdict gave the company far less than it was asking for, awarding Blackboard $2.5 million for lost profits and $630,000 in royalties. The district court invalidated 35 of the 38 claims that Blackboard made against Desire2Learn, but backed three other claims related to what constitutes a "user" of a learning management system.

Both companies appealed the parts of the case they'd lost to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has nationwide jurisdiction over U.S. patent claims. Its highly technical decision upheld the lower court's conclusion that Blackboard's claims 1-35 were invalid. But the three-judge panel rejected the lower court's finding that Blackboard's patented learning system had originated the approach of giving a single user with a single log-in multiple roles, such as being a teacher in one course and a student in another.

The appeals panel embraced Desire2Learn's argument that such technology existed in "prior art," in this case previously existing course management systems such as Serf and CourseInfo 1.5. The appeals court essentially ruled that the lower court judge had framed Blackboard's claim incorrectly for the jury, said Bruce T. Wieder, a lawyer for the Washington firm of Dow Lohnes who was not involved in the case. Having done so, the Federal Circuit court "could have said, 'This is how you should have interpreted it, you go look at it again,' " Wieder said. "But instead, the court said, 'Since we've seen what was argued, we now can say that the district court wouldn't have come to any conclusion,' and declared those claims invalid."

Blackboard officials said they were weighing their options, which could include asking the entire Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to hear the case (known as seeking a hearing "en banc)," or requesting a hearing before the Supreme Court. But Wieder described both of those paths as unlikely to succeed, since the federal circuit "rejects 99 percent of cases" for en banc hearings, and the Supreme Court takes even fewer cases.

But Blackboard has already initiated another lawsuit against Desire2Learn, accusing the Canadian firm in April of infringing new U.S. patents that the company received on its software. So while company officials continue to reassure higher education technology officials and others that Blackboard has no intention of asserting its patent rights against "open source or home-grown course management systems that are not bundled with proprietary software," they show no signs of retreating in the wake of Monday's stinging defeat.

Bob Jensen's threads on the Evil Empire's quest to get paid for virtually all online courses ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Blackboard.htm


Various alternatives to Blackboard and WebCT --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm#Moodle

Blog Software Could Be a 'Blackboard Killer'
How to alleviate the overpricing and monopoly behavior of Blackboard course management software

"Colleges Consider Using Blogs Instead of Blackboard:  Professors at CUNY debate the pros and cons after enduring technical problems with the course-management system ," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 5, 2009 --- http://chronicle.com/free/v55/i38/38blogcms.htm?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en
Watch the video at http://chronicle.com/media/video/v55/i38/brightcove/?utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

Jim Groom sounded like a preacher at a religious revival when he spoke to professors and administrators at the City University of New York last month. "For the love of God, open up, CUNY," he said, raising his voice and his arms. "It's time!" But his topic was technology, not theology.

Mr. Groom is an instructional technologist at the University of Mary Washington, and he was the keynote speaker at an event here on how to better run CUNY's online classrooms. The meeting's focus was an idea that is catching on at a handful of colleges and universities around the country: Instead of using a course-management system to distribute materials and run class discussions, why not use free blogging software — the same kind that popular gadflies use for entertainment sites?

The approach can save colleges money, for one thing. And true believers like Mr. Groom argue that by using blogs, professors can open their students' work to the public, not just to those in the class who have a login and password to a campus course-management system. Open-source blog software, supporters say, also gives professors more ability to customize their online classrooms than most commercial course-management software does.

Organizers originally expected around 20 people to show up to the daylong meeting, which included technology demonstrations and discussions. But they ended up having to book an overflow room to accommodate the more than 120 attendees.

Blackboard Inc., whose course-management system is used throughout CUNY's campuses, has become particularly unpopular there this semester after a series of technical problems. In March the Blackboard software was offline for three days, making it impossible for students or professors to access material for many courses.

"When Blackboard is down, it's like the door to the college is nailed shut," said Joseph Ugoretz, director of technology and learning at CUNY's Macaulay Honors College, explaining that some professors use the software to administer quizzes and teach online.

Those problems have caused many here to consider alternatives. At one point during the CUNY meeting, Mr. Ugoretz said the blog software the university is experimenting with, called WordPress, could be a "Blackboard killer."

But despite a slew of jokes about Blackboard throughout the day, many attendees admitted that when the course-management system works, it offers easy-to-use features that students and professors have come to rely on. Even those speakers who encouraged professors to use blogs instead of Blackboard said that universities should probably support both.

Doing Something 'For Real'

To demonstrate how a blog might be used in a course, Zoë Sheehan-Saldaña, an assistant professor of art at CUNY's Baruch College, showed off the blog for her course "Designing With Computer Animation." Students posted their assignments on the blog so that other students — and people outside the class — could see them. Students were encouraged to post comments on one another's work as well.

Although new versions of Blackboard include a bloglike feature, Ms. Sheehan-Saldaña said there are benefits in teaching students to create blogs using systems they might encounter in future jobs.

"It looks like a real Web site," she said, noting that the course blog has a look and feel similar to those of other blogs. "For students to have a sense that they're doing something 'for real' is very powerful."

Mr. Groom, in his talk, described a project he runs at Mary Washington in which professors create blogs for dozens of courses using WordPress. Attendees expressed interest in the approach but wondered how widely it would catch on.

Setting up a course blog would be more work for professors, said Stephen Powers, an assistant professor of education at Bronx Community College. "Blackboard has a fairly short learning curve," he said.

Mr. Powers uses Blackboard for his courses and generally likes it. "I'm not against it," he said. "I just want it to work."

Albert Robinson, instructional-technology coordinator at Bronx Community College, said blog software could eventually replace the need for Blackboard there, but he didn't see that happening anytime soon.

William Bernhardt, an associate professor of English who teaches online courses at the College of Staten Island, said the university system needed to offer something easy to use, like Blackboard, to most professors, who don't have time to devote to technology. CUNY should also help professors who do want to try blog tools for their courses, he said: "I think people who are here today are ones who want to go further."

Some professors asked whether it was possible to run a blog that only students could see, noting that they had concerns about making course activities public.

In an interview, Mr. Groom said some people at Mary Washington had worried at first about opening up their online classrooms. Some feared that students might post crude comments on course blogs.

"A lot of people said it is going to maybe detract from the institution's public profile because people are going to say things, and there's going to be some sort of scandal," he said. "But it has done nothing but reinforce what we're doing as important — and get us press from people like The Chronicle."

Looking at Alternatives

Manfred Kuechler, a sociology professor at CUNY's Hunter College who serves on a technology committee for the university system, said he was optimistic that the technical difficulties with Blackboard had been resolved.

The problems arose this academic year, he said, when the university moved to a centralized Blackboard system for all of its campuses rather than continue to let each campus operate its own. Consequently the software had to serve some 200,000 students, with 6.5 million files.

"Blackboard was supposed to run a stress test last summer and last fall to find out how a system could work of that magnitude," said Mr. Kuechler. "They never delivered on that stress test, and that forced us, in a way, to go to that system and keep our fingers crossed."

He said that CUNY had since changed the way it manages the servers, and that Blackboard officials were now doing more to help out.

Blackboard's growing size, however, is prompting campus technology officials to look at alternatives.

The company recently purchased a rival, Angel Learning, and now sells software to the vast majority of colleges who use course-management systems. The U.S. Department of Justice started an antitrust investigation last month into the impact of the deal on competition.

Mr. Groom argues that the need for course-management systems. or CMS's, may soon diminish, once professors switch to using blogs and other tools.

"I think the model for the CMS is outdated given the new Web, and I think that's one of the problems," he said. "It can serve certain functions well, but it's hard for proprietary CMS's, whatever they are, to keep up with the how the Web is changing."

Blackboard is trying to keep up.

Michael L. Chasen, the company's chief executive, has told The Chronicle that the latest version of the software integrates some Web 2.0 tools and still offers plenty of features that blogging packages can't match, like online gradebooks.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's thread on blogging are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ListservRoles.htm

Many colleges have saved a lot of money by shifting from Blackboard and WebCT to open sharing (free) course management systems, especially Moodle --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moodle

Bob Jensen's threads on the history of course management systems are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm

June 3, 2009 reply from Roger Debreceny [roger@DEBRECENY.COM]

The University of Hawai moved recently to Sakai (http://sakaiproject.org/portal) an open source competitor to WebCT and BlackBoard. Having been extensive users of both of those products over the last decade, I found the transition to Sakai (or Laulima, as it is known at UH) extremely easy. Sakai has all the tools of the commercial products and much more.

Moving to Sakai saved UH many, many thousands of dollars.

None of these products, however, will actually force  students to pay attention to class announcements, readings, assignments etc.!

Roger


Blackboard Learns of Many Serious Customer Gripes
At an open "listening session" with top executives of Blackboard here Wednesday at the company's annual conference, college officials expressed frustration with many of the system's fundamental characteristics. At times, the meeting seemed to turn into a communal gripe session, with complaints ranging from the system's discussion forum application, to the improved -- but still lacking -- user support, to the training materials for faculty members. Participants' concerns were often greeted with nods of agreement and outright applause from their peers as they spoke of their frustrations with the system.
Ben Eisen, "A Gripe Session at Blackboard," Inside Higher Ed, July 16, 2009 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/07/16/blackboard

Jensen Comment
Blackboard should've never been allowed by anti-trust officials to buy out WebCT. Nor should it have been granted the vague patent that worries the whole distance education world.

 


If you hate unregulated monopoly power, you will hate the latest Blackboard acquisition deal

"Blackboard Plans to Buy Another Rival, Angel Learning," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 6, 2009 --- http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=3755&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Blackboard Inc. announced this afternoon that it plans to buy Angel Learning, a rival course-management software company, for $80-million in cash and $15-million in stock, adding to the company's many acquisitions over the last several years.

Both companies have approved the deal, and Blackboard expects the arrangement to become final by the end of May.

Michael L. Chasen, president and chief executive of Blackboard, said in an interview with The Chronicle, that in the short run the combined company plans to continue to sell Angel Learning's software as a separate product, so the 400 colleges and elementary and secondary schools that use it can continue to do so for now. Down the road, the best features of Angel will be folded into Blackboard software, Mr. Chasen said. "There are a number of great features and functionalities from Angel that we would like to incorporate into our long-term product strategy," he said. He added that Angel is popular with community colleges, a market segment that Blackboard is excited to do more business with.

In 2005, Blackboard bought an even bigger competitor, WebCT, for $180-million. And in 2002 Blackboard bought another competing course-management system, called Prometheus, from George Washington University. Last year Blackboard diversified its product line by acquiring the NTI Group, which sells emergency-notification software.

In an interview just a few months ago, Mr. Chasen told The Chronicle that he felt the company had only just recovered from the difficult process of bringing together features from the WebCT and Blackboard products into a common framework. Some customers had complained that the merger was a sometimes rocky road, bringing spotty customer support and confusion over the different product lines.

Mr. Chasen said this week that Blackboard learned many lessons from its purchase of WebCT, and that it expects this latest acquisition to be much smoother as a result.

Ray Henderson, chief products officer for Angel Learning, said in an interview that his company's biggest concern in its early talks with Blackboard officials was whether Blackboard was committed to offering high levels of customer support for Angel's software. "We have been offered reassurances there," Mr. Henderson said.

The deal will mean a windfall for Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, where the Angel software was first developed. In July 2000, the university spun off a company called CyberLearning Labs to sell the software to other institutions. Later the company changed its name to Angel Learning, but the university remains the largest shareholder.

Blackboard wants monopoly power over all distance education --- this is absurd and unjust!

"Blackboard Files Complaint With U.S. International Trade Commission Seeking to Block Sales of a Competitor's Products," by Jeffrey Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 23, 2009 --- http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=3730&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

 Blackboard Inc. opened a new front in its battle against rival Desire2Learn this week, filing a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission seeking to block the import of the Canadian company’s products because of alleged patent infringement.

In Blackboard’s filing with the commission, which it submitted on Monday, the company called for an investigation and asked that the body ultimately “halt the importation, marketing, advertising, demonstration, servicing, sale, and use” of Desire2Learn’s course-management system in the United States. Blackboard claims in the filing that Desire2Learn is violating the company’s patent and selling the infringing product in America, in violation of the Tariff Act of 1930.

Within 30 days after such a request is filed, the commission will decide whether to proceed with an investigation, which would be done by one of the body’s six judges, said Peg O’Laughlin, a spokesperson for the commission.

Blackboard’s general counsel, Matthew Small, said that the company also plans to file a patent-infringement lawsuit against Desire2Learn in a Canadian court today or tomorrow.

Blackboard already has two other lawsuits going against Desire2Learn alleging patent infringement. It won one of those cases in a U.S. federal court last year, and the case is under consideration by a federal appeals court. The company filed another complaint last month, alleging infringement of a newer patent.

Diane M. Lank, Desire2Learn’s in-house lawyer, called the moves “frivolous.” “As Blackboard continues these tactics, we’re more and more prepared to deal with them,” she said.

Mr. Small said that Blackboard took its latest actions because Desire2Learn continues to sell versions of its software that Blackboard feels violate its patent.

Last week the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is reviewing the validity of one of Blackboard’s patents, issued a preliminary ruling that the patent was issued improperly because the invention existed elsewhere before the company filed its claim. The patent remains valid, however, at least until the review is completed and all legal appeals of the decision are heard.

Boycott Blackboard and think Moodle (Moodle is free) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moodle


July 1, 2009 message from Carolyn Kotlas [kotlas@email.unc.edu]

CRITIQUE OF E-LEARNING IN BLACKBOARD

 "Just as utopic visions of the Internet predicted an egalitarian online world where information flowed freely and power became irrelevant, so did many proponents of online education, who viewed online classrooms as a way to free students and instructors from traditional power relationships . . ."

 In "A Critical Examination of Blackboard's E–Learning Environment"

(FIRST MONDAY, vol. 14, no. 6, June 1, 2009), Stephanie J. Coopman, professor at San Jose State University, identifies the ways that the Blackboard 8.0 and Blackboard CE6 platforms "both constrain and facilitate instructor–student and student–student interaction." She argues that while the systems have improved the instructor's ability to track and measure student activity, this "creates a dangerously decontextualized, essentialized image of a class in which levels of 'participation' stand in for evidence of learning having taken place.

Students are treated not as learners, as partners in an educational enterprise, but as users."

The paper is available at

http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewArticle/2434/2202

First Monday [ISSN 1396-0466] is an online, peer-reviewed journal whose aim is to publish original articles about the Internet and the global information infrastructure. It is published in cooperation with the University Library, University of Illinois at Chicago. For more information, contact: First Monday, c/o Edward Valauskas, Chief Editor, PO Box 87636, Chicago IL 60680-0636 USA; email: ejv@uic.edu; Web:

http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/

 


"Blackboard 9.0," by Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher Ed, January 27, 2009 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/01/27/blackboard

Blackboard Inc., the giant among course management system (CMS) providers, today unveils Release 9.0 of Blackboard Learn. Blackboard bills the newest iteration as more open and flexible — allowing colleges to use the platform “as an open foundation for whatever complementary technologies they need to support their approach to teaching and learning.”

And the new release will feature expanded Web 2.0 and “social learning” tools, such as blogs and journals, enhanced notification capabilities (i.e., “Your paper is due in four hours” – or four days), and a redesigned, customizable user interface.

“It would definitely be an immediate, apparent change when you log into the system,” said Jessica Finnefrock, Blackboard’s senior vice president for product development.

Among the changes that will be most immediately noticeable to students and professors, aside from the redesigned, Web 2.0 interface, are the new notifications. “Probably one of the No. 1 things I heard from students is, ‘We need to more clearly manage the things that are due,’ ” said Finnefrock. She explained that the notifications for pending assignments will be visible as “dashboards” on the Blackboard site, and students can also elect to receive reminders via e-mail and, yes, Facebook (Blackboard launched a Facebook application last May). “In these focus groups, sometimes students will say, ‘I’ll log onto Blackboard and when I log in I realize my assignment was due that day. Can’t Blackboard send me something?’ ”

Students can choose when (how far in advance) and for what they’d like to receive alerts. Finnefrock said the company plans to continue expanding its notification capabilities in the future to include things like text messages and iPhone applications.

The newest version also features the SafeAssign plagiarism detection software bundled in, as opposed to it being available as an add-on. And it includes integrations to allow open-source course management systems — such as Sakai and Moodle, to which colleges have increasingly been gravitating — to be accessed within Blackboard.

While Blackboard prices change from year to year, a spokesman said that the new release has no bearing on the price structure. Colleges holding Blackboard licenses can upgrade to the 9.0 version at no extra cost; Finnefrock said she expects many institutions will pilot the new version this spring and summer and fully launch it come fall.

Blackboard declined to release the full list of universities that have been doing Beta testing for confidentiality reasons, but recommended three institutions that are now in the piloting or co-production phase. Two could be reached; both officials described only minor problems, and general satisfaction with the updated software.

Donna Wicks, senior system administrator for Blackboard at Kettering University, in Michigan, said that, in addition to the notification systems, she’s particularly impressed by the new look and ability to customize the site. “Not that the old Blackboard is terrible, but it looks out of date. This new version, it’s just, it’s a cleaner look.… I’ve been able to do more with our log-in page. I’ve really customized it. I don’t feel like I’m at a Blackboard site when I go to the page. I feel like it’s a Kettering page that’s been built.”

Lonnie Harvel, vice president of educational technology at Georgia Gwinnett College, said he was particularly pleased by the “mashup” quality of the new release — in other words, the ability to import other systems into Blackboard (and export, too). “The interface is more of a robust, portaling environment that is allowing us to bring more services from outside the Blackboard toolset into that environment,” he said. For instance, “with the new environment, I can simply connect it to my campus announcement system.... It’s all a matter of being able to weave the different information sources together in one place.”

Moving forward, Harvel said Blackboard has the daunting task of keeping two very different constituencies happy — long-time Blackboard users and clients of its old competitor WebCT, which Blackboard bought in 2005. Individuals could be religious in their original preferences, said Harvel (who described himself as an agnostic in that debate). “I think that will probably be one of the biggest challenges that Blackboard has to struggle with, bringing these two platforms together.... They’re going to be dealing with two different sets of expectations.”

Continued in article

 


 

If you absolutely despise Blackboard's attempts to get royalties from every distance education course in the world, even if it does not use Blackboard, you've gotta love this one if Blackboard loses in court

"Blackboard Sues U.S. Patent Office," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, December 2, 2008 ---
http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=3494&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Just when you thought the patent fight over course-management software couldn’t get any more confusing, Blackboard Inc. went to federal court to sue the United States Patent and Trademark Office, seeking to overturn a recent decision concerning Blackboard’s controversial patent on course-management software.

The issue at stake is who decides whether or not Blackboard’s patent is valid. Right now the patent is being challenged on two fronts:

Blackboard clearly wants the final decision to rest with the courts, where it has received the most favorable verdicts. Its new lawsuit, filed late last month against the patent office and Jon W. Dudas, the office’s director, seeks to overturn the patent office’s recent decision to continue its review of the patent’s validity while the court challenge goes on. Blackboard argues that once a court ruling about a patent is issued, the patent office should end any reexamination of that patent. The patent office has ruled that its reexamination will only end once a final verdict in court is issued, meaning only after all possible appeals are pursued.

Michael Feldstein, a blogger who has been tracking the Blackboard patent battle, argues that Blackboard’s latest action muddies the company’s efforts to display a greater willingness to make its software work with that of competitors. For instance, Blackboard has announced that future releases of its course-management software will allow colleges to synchronize with Sakai and with Moodle, two open-source alternatives.

“Regardless of the legal merits, the fact that Blackboard continues to assert the patent heavily undermines their new marketing message of openness,” wrote Mr. Feldstein. “I don’t understand why they still think this strategy is a winner.”

But Bruce Wieder, a partner with the Washington law firm Dow Lohnes who is watching the case, said that Blackboard’s latest move was not that unusual. “It’s not typical, but it’s not outrageous,” he said.

Blackboard issued a statement today saying that its latest action is “not an effort to stop the overall re-examination,” and that the company “remains confident in the re-examination process.” Company officials could not be reached for further comment.

Diane M. Lank, Desire2Learn’s in-house lawyer, said in an interview Tuesday that “it is rather clear that Blackboard doesn’t like the patent office since the reexamination started.”

 


Reconsidering Blackboard
The dominant — and domineering — provider of course-management software has become the company that many campus-technology officials love to hate, especially when it raises prices. Now more colleges are looking at free, open-source alternatives. But Blackboard promises that its new Next Generation software will keep the company ahead of competitors.

"Blackboard Customers Consider Alternatives: Open-source software for course management poses market challenge," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 12, 2008 --- http://chronicle.com/weekly/v55/i03/03a00103.htm?utm_source=wb&utm_medium=en

Matthew Henry, programming-services manager at LeTourneau University, sat near the front of a ballroom with his arms crossed, ready to watch a multimedia preview of Blackboard Inc.'s next course-management system.

He arrived here in July for the company's annual user conference with more than a few complaints about the company. Its service is poor, he said, its behavior toward competitors is overly aggressive, and its fast growth in recent years has distracted it from supporting the product that helped make it a giant in the usually quiet world of college software.

Blackboard has become the Microsoft of higher-education technology, say many campus-technology officials, and they don't mean the comparison as a compliment. To them the company is not only big but also pushy, and many of them love to hate it.

Mr. Henry's mission here, as he waited with four colleagues from LeTourneau, was to determine whether the company's software remains the best choice to run the Texas university's course Web pages, online discussion boards, digital gradebooks, and other teaching tools, which have become as standard as physical whiteboards on college campuses.

New software called Blackboard NG, for Next Generation, is supposed to keep the company a step ahead and keep people such as Mr. Henry as customers. The user conference was its first public display. "I'm anxious to see whether Blackboard NG is just hype or something that's going to solve our problems" with the company, said Mr. Henry, as the lights dimmed for the presentation.

LeTourneau's contract with Blackboard ends this year, and campus officials may join the growing number of colleges switching to Moodle, a free, open-source course-management system, or Sakai, another free program. Those systems have grown feature-rich enough to pose serious challenges to Blackboard. Giants like the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of California at Los Angeles, along with smaller colleges, like Louisiana State University at Shreveport, have made the jump.

"There are a lot of institutions right now that are upset with Blackboard, to say the least, and looking for alternatives," says Michael Zastrocky, vice president for research at Gartner Inc., a consulting firm that tracks trends in higher-education technology. "They caused a backlash that's been very difficult for them to overcome."

Blackboard is heading for a showdown with the free-software movement, according to some observers. Although Blackboard remains the clear market leader — about 66 percent of American colleges use its software as their standard, says the Campus Computing Project, an annual survey — there are signs that open-source alternatives are starting to gain ground. The survey found that the proportion of colleges using Moodle as their standard rose from 4.2 percent in 2006 to 7.8 percent in 2007, and that about 3 percent of colleges have selected Sakai. A recent survey by the Instructional Technology Council, which promotes distance learning, found that the proportion of its member colleges using Moodle jumped from 4 percent last year to more than 10 percent this year. The proportion using Blackboard fell slightly.

Blackboard's leaders say they see no sign of an exodus to commercial or open-source rivals. "There's not more people leaving now than there were yesterday," said Blackboard's chief executive, Michael L. Chasen, in an interview this summer in the company's new corporate offices, in Washington, where the brightly lit white corridors and modern accents in staff lounges make it look a bit like a Star Trek starship.

Growing Goliath

How big is Blackboard? Three years ago it acquired its major rival, WebCT, solidifying its dominance of the course-management market. The company has also bought other companies in recent years, including the NTI Group, which makes emergency-notification software, and Xythos Software, which makes content-management programs.

How pushy is it? Blackboard claimed a patent on processes that many college officials say were already in widespread use. After the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the patent, in 2006, Blackboard sued a leading rival, Desire2Learn, claiming infringement. Many saw the move as trying to bully a competitor. (A federal judge found in favor of Blackboard, although the decision has been appealed).

Such tactics are common in other business sectors, says Trace A. Urdan, an education-industry analyst with Signal Hill, an investment firm, but not in the world of college software. "They're sharks operating in this universe where you don't see a lot of sharks," he says of Blackboard's leaders. For him that is a compliment. "They're smart," he says.

Mr. Urdan argues that the legal battle has probably caused enough uncertainty about Desire2Learn's future to scare off larger software companies who might otherwise have considered buying it and turning it into a more serious competitor.

Colleges say they have reason for concern about Blackboard's growing dominance. Their biggest fear is that the company will jack up prices once colleges have become reliant on its products. As one of Sakai's founders, Bradley Wheeler, chief information officer at Indiana University, puts it, "When switching costs get high, you can raise the rent."

Blackboard officials have attempted to calm such concerns and to convince colleges that it is a good partner. Two years ago, after the higher-education technology group Educause took the unusual step of issuing a statement criticizing the company's behavior over the patent, Blackboard's leaders held a town-hall session at Educause's annual conference to answer questions and listen as college officials vented.

But some of those college leaders say the company's ways haven't significantly changed since then.

"That's the first thing that comes to people's mind when you come to Blackboard — its lawsuit," says Stephen G. Landry, chief information officer at Seton Hall University, which uses Blackboard. "I don't like working with a company that seems to spend as much money on legal and financial folks as they do on developers."

So now that open-source options are ready for prime time, many colleges are taking a cold, hard look at the price, reliability, and features of Moodle and Sakai.

Hidden Costs

Price seems like an obvious advantage of open-source software. After all, it is free. But officials say open-source programs can end up costing just as much as, or even more than, Blackboard's software when staff time is taken into account. It all depends on how much customization a college wants, or how many features it needs.

"The software is free, but you have to buy the computers to put it on, and you have to buy a development team to move it forward," says Donna Crystal Llewellyn, director of the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning at Georgia Tech, which recently switched from WebCT to Sakai. Saving money was not the goal, she says, adding that the university already had a staff of programmers to tackle the challenge.

"Our faculty are very techno-savvy," she says. "They always think they can do something better than someone else that's already put it in a box."

But many smaller colleges say price was indeed a major reason to move away from Blackboard.

"They continued to raise the prices," says Scott Hardwick, assistant director of information-technology services on Louisiana State's Shreveport campus, which a few years ago gave up Blackboard for Moodle.

"Had we continued paying what Blackboard wanted us to pay, it probably would have been $100,000 a year," he says. Now the university pays only about $5,000 a year to an outside company that provides support for the Moodle software. "It's definitely cheaper," says Mr. Hardwick, even considering the time he spends on maintenance.

Professors, too, at Shreveport have been pleased with Moodle. The only complaint Mr. Hardwick says he has heard is that Moodle's user interface doesn't look as slick as Blackboard's. "I'm like, 'Seriously, that's your complaint? It doesn't look as slick?' Apparently that's a huge deal for people."

Blackboard's chief executive, Mr. Chasen, defended his company's prices. "I don't think that we're too expensive," he said in the interview. "Compared to other enterprise software, we're a fraction of the cost." There's a good chance, he said, that colleges "bought their human-resources package for a million dollars."

A Supportive Environment

The downside of open-source software is that because it is free, there's no one company to call if things go wrong. But the downside of buying a commercial program is that if its maker provides poor support, it's hard to get under the hood yourself to make a fix.

Blackboard has a history of poor support, according to many college officials.

"Support in the past has certainly been a challenge for us," Mr. Chasen acknowledged. He blamed the company's rapid growth. "We went from 100 clients to now over 5,000 clients in a relatively short time, and support is one of those areas that lagged behind."

The company recently hired an outside firm as part of an effort to improve its customer service. "We're on the way to answering it," said Mr. Chasen. "We know that support is improving. Is it there yet? No, we still have a long way to go. But over the next few months, you'll start to see significant improvements across the board."

Some colleges running open-source programs initially had concerns about whether free software could be scaled to provide Web sites and services for thousands of courses on large campuses. But UCLA recently decided to use Moodle across the campus, and things are going smoothly as it adds about 900 course Web sites on the system per quarter, says Rosemary Rocchio, director of academic applications in the office of information technoogy there.

But the university has plenty of programmers to handle issues that crop up, she notes. "If you're a small university, and you don't have IT staff, then open source isn't a great solution," she says. "I don't think it's one size fits all."

Innovation as Attraction

The biggest benefit of open-source software, say many observers, is that if a college wants a new feature, it can simply build it, since the entire program code is open. When a college adds a new feature, it shares the code with everyone else using the software.

Blackboard's Mr. Chasen argued that there are benefits to the corporate model of software publishing, too. "I have 300 people on my development team working full time on our products and services," he said. "I don't know if there are 300 full-time people currently working on Sakai. Maybe there are. I have a multimillion-dollar hardware-testing lab just to test scalability."

"At a minimum," he said, "we are at least just as innovative as open source."

Michael Korcuska, executive director of the Sakai Foundation, a nonprofit group that coordinates the use of the open-source software, argues that the open-source model is quicker to react to needs of colleges than Blackboard is. "The people doing the work and deciding what features go in the system are sitting on campus next to the users, not in some back office somewhere," he says.

But Mr. Urdan, the industry analyst, says fine-tuning software is a "luxury" that most colleges can't afford. The slight improvements are often not worth the man-hours and dollar costs of adopting them, he says.

The Next Generation

Many of those arguments, users say, will be settled by the performance of Blackboard's new product.

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on the history of course authoring and management technologies are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm


"Moving (usually from Blackboard or WebCT) to Moodle:  Reflections Two Years Later," by Ining Tracy Chaw, Educause Quarterly, Number 3, 2008 --- http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM0837.pdf

Blackboard Announces Free Tool to Interconnect Its Software With Moodle, an Open-Source Competitor," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 28, 2008 --- Click Here

Bob Jensen's threads on Blackboard, WebCT, and Moodle --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Blackboard.htm


"Blackboard Announces Free Tool to Interconnect Its Software With Moodle, an Open-Source Competitor," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 28, 2008 --- Click Here

Blackboard has taken another step toward making the next version of its course-management system work alongside open-source competitors. The company announced today that it is working with Iowa State University to create a software plug-in for the company’s course-management system so that it can integrate with Moodle, a popular open-source alternative. The move comes just three months after the company announced the creation of a similar connection tool for Sakai, another open-source course-management system.

The new software tool, called the Learning Environment Connector for Moodle, will let students access course Web sites created with Moodle from within the Blackboard software interface. The goal is to let students see all of their course information in one space, regardless of which software was used to produce the Web pages. “They’ll have a single place to sign on to get to our Blackboard presence and our Moodle presence,” said Randal Dalhoff, assistant director of academic technologies for Iowa State University’s Information Technology Services, in an interview.

The tools are designed to work with the next versions of the company’s software, which it is calling Blackboard NG, for next generation. College officials expect the first of those versions to come out early next year, although Blackboard officials have not announced a release date. Iowa State has been given an early copy of Blackboard’s forthcoming software so that its programmers could build the tool. Mr. Dalhoff said the university would give the Connector software free to any college that wants it.

He said Blackboard officials had asked the university earlier this year if it would be interested in taking on the project, and university officials decided to do so. “To me it’s the thrill of putting something together, and as programmers we thought this would be a fun project to do,” he said.

Some colleges have expressed skepticism at Blackboard’s move to link with open-source platforms, in part because of the aggressive tactics the company has taken against commercial competitors. The company successfully sued one of those competitors, Desire2Learn, for for violating Blackboard’s patent on a system of delivering course materials online, though some college officials feel the patent is overly broad. The patent office is reviewing whether the patent was issued properly, which depends in part on whether other colleges or companies were already using similar technology before Blackboard filed for its patent.

“I’m not a Blackboard advocate, but I’m not a Blackboard putter-downer either,” said Mr. Dalhoff. “We’re not tied to Blackboard. If some day something really came out that is better, or prices got out of range, who knows what we might do?”

A couple of departments at the university already use Moodle, he said, even though the central IT department does not officially support it. Most professors at the university use Blackboard.

No one course-management system is best for every department or for every professor, said Mr. Dalhoff. “Having a choice will be better for campuses than really settling on one.”

 


"Jury Sides With Blackboard in Patent Case," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, February 25, 2008 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/02/25/blackboard

A federal jury in Texas on Friday awarded the learning services giant Blackboard $3.1 million in its patent infringement lawsuit against a much smaller competitor, adding a new layer of complexity and uncertainty to a complex, uncertain market for higher education learning management systems.

The July 2006 lawsuit, closely watched (and much-derided by many) in the higher education technology world, accused the Canadian company Desire2Learn of infringing dozens of Blackboard patents for online course management and e-learning technologies. Blackboard sought $17 million in damages and an injunction barring Desire2Learn from continuing to infringe the patent. Blackboard came under heavy fire from campus technology officials, including a rare rebuke from Educause, higher education’s main technology association, for asserting the company’s patent rights to technologies that many argued were simple and longstanding technologies in wide use by corporate and open source learning systems.

After a two-week trial in Lufkin, Tex., and just a few hours of deliberation, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (which is seen as being friendly to patent holders) agreed with Blackboard that Desire2Learn’s learning platform uses technologies for which Blackboard received U.S. patents in January 2006. But its verdict gave the company far less than it was asking for, awarding Blackboard $2.5 million for lost profits and $630,000 in royalties.

In addition, the verdict allows the company to petition the judge in the case, Ron Clark, for an injunction against further patent infringement that would force Desire2Learn either to alter its products or to stop selling them to new customers in the United States.

In a statement via e-mail (but not posted on the company’s Web site), Blackboard’s president and CEO, Michael Chasen, said officials were “pleased that the jury recognized the importance of our contribution to e-Learning. We look forward to continuing to innovate and invest in new technologies that help education institutions around the globe improve teaching and learning.”

The statement also contained a statement in which Blackboard’s chief legal officer, Matthew Small, appeared to reiterate to fearful supporters of open source learning systems (such as Moodle and Sakai) that the company did not plan to pursue similar infringement claims against non-commercial competitors. “We also continue to stand behind our Patent Pledge which covers this patent and reflects our ongoing commitment to interoperating with and supporting the evolution of open source and home-grown systems,” Small said.

Desire2Learn officials, in a letter to customers, expressed disappointment with the jury verdict, but vowed to continue to oppose Blackboard’s patent enforcement efforts, not only to “defend ourselves vigorously” but to “stand up against Blackboard ... in the best interest of the entire educational community,” in the words of John Baker, the company’s president and CEO. Desire2Learn noted that the jury’s verdict was only one step in a multipronged process, that will include not just the likelihood of legal appeals but a continuing review of the legitimacy of Desire2Learn’s patents by the U.S. Patent Office.

The blogosphere, which tilts heavily against Blackboard on virtually any and all issues, took a generally dim view of the jury’s verdict. Some commentators sought to play down the significance of the jury’s verdict, noting that it gave Blackboard less than it had sought and that Desire2Learn’s patent is still under review by the U.S. patent office.

But others expressed fear that Blackboard would soon go after other commercial learning management software providers like Angel, and wondered whether Blackboard would abide by its pledge not to take aim at the open source systems that appear to be gaining ground against Blackboard, especially Moodle. Commentators generally agreed that the implications of the case won’t be clear for some time.

“It will take weeks, if not months, to sort out the fallout from the jury ruling yesterday in the Blackboard Inc. v. Desire2learn Inc. case,” Alfred H. Essa, associate vice chancellor and deputy chief information officer of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, wrote on his blog  The Nose. “Although all is not lost, this is a crushing blow to Desire2Learn, one of the few remaining commercial competitors to Blackboard in the higher education LMS market.

The good news is that the Patent Office is taking a new look at Blackboard's controversial patent.


Question
What next in course management since Blackboard is taking aim at its own foot?

September 18, 2007 message from Peters, James M [jpeters@NMHU.EDU]

Our (small and poor) University is looking at alternative to Blackboard to support both local and internet classes. I recall that this issue was discussed recently on this list and was wondering if any of you would be willing to provide some short statements about alternative products to Blackboard and your assessment of them. Bluntly, the merger between Blackboard and WebCt was, in my opinion, a disaster for the consumer. The existing Blackboard product is full of programming bugs and I would like to be able to go to the committee on which I serve with viable options to switching. However, the State of New Mexico also is looking into standardizing a product state-wide and so the alternatives need to be viable for larger Universities as well.

Any thoughts or comments would be welcome. Since I haven't used this list much, if there is an old archive of threaded discussions I can review that would be useful as well.

Thanks.

Jim Peters, PhD
Associate Professor of Accounting
School of Business
213 Sininger Hall
New Mexico Highlands University
Las Vegas, NM 87701

October 8, 2007 message from Allen M. Ford, MBA, MSSE, MFA [amfnbt@RIT.EDU]

My two cents: The Business Studies Department at NTID offers a variety of courses through the moodle platform set up on a local server. I find it a very attractive alternative to Bb and Desire2Learn (current RIT standard) in that it handles larger files (think DB) and is extremely instructor friendly. While I do "train" and help faculty set up courses, I find that once they learn how easy and intuitive it is, they require minimal hand-holding. In the past five years we have had no server related issues...upgrades require minimal techie intervention. In comparison with my experience teaching COB DL courses using Desire2Learn, if it were my decision, I would use moodle.

That said, I would encourage faculty to investigate what online resources are available from publishers. During a current textbook process, Wiley's EZ-Plus impressed the committee with its CMS that are content specific and ready to roll. Check it out at: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Brand/id-31.html

September 18, reply from Del DeVries [devriesd@MAIL.BELMONT.EDU]

The "what next" question that is most interesting to me is what technology is compelling for engaging students in learning? If I use Skype for online office hours, I believe that I am more accessible to students AND the opportunity for easy voice / chat / file transfer are good for solving some student problems. I can use Camtasia to create audio/video Flash demo's to illustrate a "how-to". Both Skype and Camtasia are good for communicating with students who may not physically show up in my office. But what are the other possibilities that are both cost effective, time effective, AND work to engage student learning?

The AECM (and Bob Jenson's archive of links) are a virtual treasure chest of idea's over the years. Today's students are very comfortable with wireless laptops, enhanced phones, and general savy for social networking with Facebook, etc. But at the end of the day I'm still asking the question of what technologies would be useful for engaging with tomorrow's (and today's) students.

 

Dr. Del DeVries, CPA, CISA
Assistant Professor of Accounting & Information Systems
College of Business Administration
Belmont University 1900 Belmont Blvd Nashville, TN 37212 615-460-6930

Reply from Bob Jensen on September 18, 2007

Hi Del and Jim,

When there is an unregulated monopoly, expect both prices and patent infringement suits to skyrocket. Blackboard should've never been allowed to buy WebCT. My threads on Blackboard are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Blackboard.htm

There are various competitors to Blackboard competitors, many of whom have been involved in lawsuits with Blackboard and WebCT. Many of these competitors (e.g., Sakai, Moodle, and ATutor) are listed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackboard_Inc
Some schools with severe funding problems use Moodle.

The expense of Blackboard, and all of these alternatives, in fact is much more than licensing fees. The expensive problem is the technical support staff needed to both maintain the servers (these systems have their own servers) and to train users of the system, students and staff. This is an expense that never ends. Most importantly there must be relatively expensive backup systems. Servers crash and burn. If courses across a campus become dependent on those servers, it is vital to have backup systems that can be shifted into gear almost immediately. This is where IT staff become crucial.

Of course Blackboard and other vendors like eCollege can take all the IT headaches off campus. This is something I recommend for smaller colleges, but it is more expensive in some ways and cheaper in others considering the expensive and specialized IT skills needed to maintain servers and backup systems.

Below is a virtual-office-hours tidbit for the September 28 edition of Tidbits.  I wouldn't describe virtual office hours as a competitor to Blackboard as much as it addresses Del's question of “What next?” However, at Harvard this is “What now?” Various "What next?" scenarios are listed at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm

There are many other “what next?” possibilities, the most important of which will be a joint effort (academe, standard setters, and industry) to develop massive Wiki-like and YouTube-like knowledge bases filled with pedagogical videos, spreadsheets, and hyperlinks on almost any accounting, auditing, and systems topic imaginable. These probably will be somewhat more secure than Wikipedia/YouTube, but it still will be in the open sharing and development spirit. I’m constantly amazed at the immense (over a billion) number of modules in Wikipedia that just grew and grew. My experience is that most of the modules are excellent except for some politically sensitive topics and highly specialized topics in technical disciplines.

This is why Camtasia is so important. More and more we will see YouTube-like videos that can be used tot take over more and more where the classroom leaves off. See some of the Acct 5341 and Acct5342 illustrations at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/video/ (I’m not quite sure why I downloaded the Astaire-Powel and BravoAmerica videos in  this folder a long, long time ago --- Dah!)

In the future, instructors can focus more on motivation to learn and underlying theory while leaving the technical explanations to the knowledge bases where technical explanations and illustrations can be played over and over again and again until they are understood by users. This of course is very frightening to many instructors who are practiced at explaining technical modules and lousy at explaining underlying theory.

The searching will be partly like XBRL if the knowledge base items have XML tags and eventually, as Jagdish points out, Semantic Web searching --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/XBRLandOLAP.htm

It never ceases to amaze me how much knowledge is already available in Wikipedia and YouTube. These are open sharing knowledge bases to be used with caution and suspicion. But they are unbelievably vast in terms of history and, in the case of Wikipedia, full of reference links and highly informative user discussions. Knowledge has become so vast that it boggles our minds. Rather than be scholars filled with facts and figures, we will become scholars who can tap into facts, figures, and knowledge-base explanations that we’re educated enough to comprehend on an as-needed basis.

I can’t remember how to do half the things I put into Camtasia videos (especially in my MS Access videos), but I play them back once or twice and it all makes sense again. What an aid to me these videos are whenever I have to teach something in Access, Excel, XBRL, intangible assets valuation, etc. If only others in the academy would see fit to freely share their Camtasia videos. Sigh!

Anybody interested in developing Camtasia videos might look at my PowerPoint file on Camtasia at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/EdTech/PowerPoint/

Bob Jensen

Blackboard message threads --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Blackboard.htm#Blackboard


The near-monopoly of course management systems since 1994 has been Blackboard (Bb) since Bb was allowed by the Government to buy out its WebCT arch competitor --- http://www.blackboard.com/us/index.Bb

Open Sharing Threat:  Let's Hope the Blackboard Monopolist Loses This One
The opening gavel sounded this week in a trial that is being closely watched by college and university technology officials -- a patent dispute between Blackboard Inc., which has become the giant of the education-software sector, and a smaller Canadian company called Desire2Learn. Blackboard had filed for the patent, which covers its e-learning software, in 1999. Critics say the patent is too broad and could be construed as covering many aspects of classroom software. If the patent holds up, they say, colleges that create their own course-management systems could be vulnerable to similar lawsuits. The Chronicle offers coverage of the opening arguments in the case, and the article is free even to non-subscribers.
Chronicle of Higher Education, February 13, 2008  --- http://chronicle.com/wiredcampus/index.php?id=2741&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Bob Jensen's threads on Blackboard are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Blackboard.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on the history of course authoring and management systems are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm

A Serious New Commercial Advance for Online Training and Education

"Opening Up Online Learning," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, October 9, 2006 --- http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/10/09/cartridge

This has not exactly been a season of peace, love and harmony on the higher education technology landscape. A patent fight has broken out among major developers of course management systems. Academic publishers and university officials are warring over open access to federally sponsored research. And textbook makers are taking a pounding for — among other things — the ways in which digital enhancements are running up the prices of their products.

In that context, many may be heartened by the announcement later today at the Educause meeting in Dallas that three dozen academic publishers, providers of learning management software, and others have agreed on a common, open standard that will make it possible to move digital content into and out of widely divergent online education systems without expensive and time consuming reengineering. The agreement by the diverse group of publishers and software companies, who compete intensely with one another, is being heralded as an important breakthrough that could expand the array of digital content available to professors and students and make it easier for colleges to switch among makers of learning systems.

Of course, that’s only if the new standard, known as the “Common Cartridge,” becomes widely adopted, which is always the question with developments deemed to be potential technological advances.

Many observers believe this one has promise, especially because so many of the key players have been involved in it. Working through the IMS Global Learning Consortium, leading publishers like Pearson Education and McGraw-Hill Education and course-management system makers such as Blackboard, ANGEL Learning and open-source Sakai have worked to develop the technical specifications for the common cartridge, and all of them have vowed to begin incorporating the new standard into their products by next spring — except Blackboard, which says it will do so eventually, but has not set a timeline for when.

What exactly is the Common Cartridge? In lay terms, it is a set of specifications and standards, commonly agreed to by an IMS working group, that would allow digitally produced content — supplements to textbooks such as assessments or secondary readings, say, or faculty-produced course add-ons like discussion groups — to “play,” or appear, the same in any course management system, from proprietary ones like Blackboard/WebCT and Desire2Learn to open source systems like Moodle and Sakai.

“It is essentially a common ‘container,’ so you can import it and load it and have it look similar when you get it inside” your local course system, says Ray Henderson, chief products officer at ANGEL, who helped conceive of the idea when he was president of the digital publishing unit at Pearson.

The Common Cartridge approach is designed to deal with two major issues: (1) the significant cost and time that publishers now must spend (or others, if the costs are passed along) to produce the material they produce for multiple, differing learning management systems, and (2) the inability to move courses produced in one course platform to another, which makes it difficult for professors to move their courses from one college to another and for campuses to consider switching course management providers.

The clearest and surest upside of the new standard, most observers agree, is that it could help lower publishers’ production costs and, in turn, allow them to focus their energies on producing more and better content. David O’Connor, senior vice president for product development at Pearson Education’s core technology group, says his company and other major publishers spend “many hundreds of thousands of dollars a year effectively moving content around” so that ancillary material for textbooks can work in multiple course management systems.

Because Blackboard and Web CT together own in the neighborhood of 75 percent of the course management market, Pearson and other publishers produce virtually all of their materials to work in those proprietary systems. Materials are typically produced on demand for smaller players like ANGEL, Desire2Learn and Sakai, and it is even harder to find usable materials for colleges’ homemade systems. While big publishers such as Pearson and McGraw-Hill have sizable media groups that can, when they choose to, spend what’s necessary to modify digital content for selected textbooks, “small publishers often have to say no,” O’Connor says. As a result, “there are just fewer options for people who aren’t using Blackboard and WebCT, and more hurdles to getting it.”

Supporters hope that adoption of the common cartridge will allow publishers to spend less time and money adapting one textbook’s digital content for multiple course platforms and more time producing more and better content. “This should have the result of broadening choice in content to institutions,” says Catherine Burdt, an analyst at Eduventures, an education research firm. “Colleges would no longer be limited to the content that’s supported by their LMS platform, but could now go out and choose the best content that aligns with what’s happening in their curriculum.”

Less clear is how successful the effort will be at improving the portability of course materials from one learning management system to another. If all the major providers introduce “export capability,” there is significant promise, says Michael Feldstein, who writes the blog e-Literate and is assistant director of the State University of New York Learning Network. “This has the potential to be one of the most important standards to come out in a while, particularly for faculty,” says Feldstein, who notes that his comments here represent his own views, not SUNY’s. “It would become much easier for them to take rich course content and course designs and migrate them from one system to another with far less pain.”

But while easier transferability would obviously benefit the smaller players in the course management market — and ANGEL and Sakai plan to announce today that their systems will soon allow professors to create Common Cartridges for export out of their systems — such a system would only take off if the dominant player in the market, the combined Blackboard/WebCT, eventually does the same. “I’m not sure how excited Blackboard would be about making it easier for faculty to migrate out of their product and into one of their competitors,” says Feldstein.

Chris Vento, senior vice president of technology and product development at Blackboard, was a leading proponent of the IMS Common Cartridge concept when he was a leading official at WebCT before last year’s merger. In an interview, he acknowledged the question lots of others are asking: “What’s in it for Blackboard? Why wouldn’t you just lock up the format and force everybody to use it?” His answer, he says, is that by helping the entire industry, he says, the project cannot help but benefit its biggest player, too.

“This will enable publishers to really do the best job of producing their content, making it richer and better for students and faculty, and more lucrative for publishers from the business perspective,” says Vento. “Anything we can do to enable that content to be built, and more of it and better quality, the more lucrative it is eventually for us.”

Blackboard is fully behind the project, Vento says. Having endorsed the Common Cartridge charter, Blackboard has also committed to incorporating the new standard into its products, and that Blackboard intends to make export of course materials possible out of its platform. “Exactly how that maps to our product roadmap has not been finalized,” he said, “but in the end, we’re all going to have to do this. It’s just a question of when.” There will, he says, “be a lot of pressures to do this.”

That pressure is likely to be intensified because of the public relations pounding Blackboard has taken among many in the academic technology world because of its attempt to patent technology that many people believe is fundamental to e-learning systems. O’Connor of Pearson says he believes Blackboard could benefit from its involvement in the Common Cartridge movement by being seen “as the dominant player, to be someone supporting openness in the community.” He adds: “There is an opportunity for them to mend some of the damage from the patent issue.”

Like virtually all technological advances — or would-be ones — Common Cartridge’s success will ultimately rise and fall, says Burdt of Eduventures, on whether Blackboard and others embrace it. “Everything comes down to adoption,” she says. “The challenge with every standard is the adoption model. Some are out the door too early. Some evolve too early and are eclipsed by substitutes. For others, suppliers decide not to support it for various reasons.”

Those behind the Common Cartridge believe it’s off to a good start with the large number of disparate parties not only involved in creating it, but already committing to incorporate it into their offerings.

Yet even as they launch this standard, some of them are already looking ahead to the next challenge. While the Common Cartridge, if widely adopted, will allow for easier movement of digital course materials into and out of course management systems, it does not ensure that users will be able to do the same thing with third-party e-learning tools (like subject-specific tutoring modules) that are not part of course management systems, or with the next generation of tools that may emerge down the road. For that, the same parties would have to reach a similar agreement on a standard for “tool interoperability,” which is next on the IMS agenda.

“This is only one step,” Pearson’s O’Connor says of the Common Cartridge. But it is, he says, an important one.

Bob Jensen's threads on education technology and distance education are linked at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/0000start.htm


February 25, 2008 Update

"Jury Sides With Blackboard in Patent Case," by Doug Lederman, Inside Higher Ed, February 25, 2008 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/02/25/blackboard

A federal jury in Texas on Friday awarded the learning services giant Blackboard $3.1 million in its patent infringement lawsuit against a much smaller competitor, adding a new layer of complexity and uncertainty to a complex, uncertain market for higher education learning management systems.

The July 2006 lawsuit, closely watched (and much-derided by many) in the higher education technology world, accused the Canadian company Desire2Learn of infringing dozens of Blackboard patents for online course management and e-learning technologies. Blackboard sought $17 million in damages and an injunction barring Desire2Learn from continuing to infringe the patent. Blackboard came under heavy fire from campus technology officials, including a rare rebuke from Educause, higher education’s main technology association, for asserting the company’s patent rights to technologies that many argued were simple and longstanding technologies in wide use by corporate and open source learning systems.

After a two-week trial in Lufkin, Tex., and just a few hours of deliberation, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (which is seen as being friendly to patent holders) agreed with Blackboard that Desire2Learn’s learning platform uses technologies for which Blackboard received U.S. patents in January 2006. But its verdict gave the company far less than it was asking for, awarding Blackboard $2.5 million for lost profits and $630,000 in royalties.

In addition, the verdict allows the company to petition the judge in the case, Ron Clark, for an injunction against further patent infringement that would force Desire2Learn either to alter its products or to stop selling them to new customers in the United States.

In a statement via e-mail (but not posted on the company’s Web site), Blackboard’s president and CEO, Michael Chasen, said officials were “pleased that the jury recognized the importance of our contribution to e-Learning. We look forward to continuing to innovate and invest in new technologies that help education institutions around the globe improve teaching and learning.”

The statement also contained a statement in which Blackboard’s chief legal officer, Matthew Small, appeared to reiterate to fearful supporters of open source learning systems (such as Moodle and Sakai) that the company did not plan to pursue similar infringement claims against non-commercial competitors. “We also continue to stand behind our Patent Pledge which covers this patent and reflects our ongoing commitment to interoperating with and supporting the evolution of open source and home-grown systems,” Small said.

Desire2Learn officials, in a letter to customers, expressed disappointment with the jury verdict, but vowed to continue to oppose Blackboard’s patent enforcement efforts, not only to “defend ourselves vigorously” but to “stand up against Blackboard ... in the best interest of the entire educational community,” in the words of John Baker, the company’s president and CEO. Desire2Learn noted that the jury’s verdict was only one step in a multipronged process, that will include not just the likelihood of legal appeals but a continuing review of the legitimacy of Desire2Learn’s patents by the U.S. Patent Office.

The blogosphere, which tilts heavily against Blackboard on virtually any and all issues, took a generally dim view of the jury’s verdict. Some commentators sought to play down the significance of the jury’s verdict, noting that it gave Blackboard less than it had sought and that Desire2Learn’s patent is still under review by the U.S. patent office.

But others expressed fear that Blackboard would soon go after other commercial learning management software providers like Angel, and wondered whether Blackboard would abide by its pledge not to take aim at the open source systems that appear to be gaining ground against Blackboard, especially Moodle. Commentators generally agreed that the implications of the case won’t be clear for some time.

“It will take weeks, if not months, to sort out the fallout from the jury ruling yesterday in the Blackboard Inc. v. Desire2learn Inc. case,” Alfred H. Essa, associate vice chancellor and deputy chief information officer of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, wrote on his blog  The Nose. “Although all is not lost, this is a crushing blow to Desire2Learn, one of the few remaining commercial competitors to Blackboard in the higher education LMS market.


Question
What's next in course management since Blackboard is taking aim at its own foot with monopoly pricing?

Bob Jensen's threads on alternatives to Blackboard --- See below!

Updates on Moodle --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm#Moodle

Updates on Sloodle and Second Life (virtual world learning) --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#SecondLife
The above link includes accounting education applications of Second Life.

September 18, 2007 message from Peters, James M [jpeters@NMHU.EDU]

Our (small and poor) University is looking at alternative to Blackboard to support both local and internet classes. I recall that this issue was discussed recently on this list and was wondering if any of you would be willing to provide some short statements about alternative products to Blackboard and your assessment of them. Bluntly, the merger between Blackboard and WebCt was, in my opinion, a disaster for the consumer. The existing Blackboard product is full of programming bugs and I would like to be able to go to the committee on which I serve with viable options to switching. However, the State of New Mexico also is looking into standardizing a product state-wide and so the alternatives need to be viable for larger Universities as well.

Any thoughts or comments would be welcome. Since I haven't used this list much, if there is an old archive of threaded discussions I can review that would be useful as well.

Thanks.

Jim Peters, PhD
Associate Professor of Accounting
School of Business
213 Sininger Hall
New Mexico Highlands University
Las Vegas, NM 87701

October 8, 2007 message from Allen M. Ford, MBA, MSSE, MFA [amfnbt@RIT.EDU]

My two cents: The Business Studies Department at NTID offers a variety of courses through the moodle platform set up on a local server. I find it a very attractive alternative to Bb and Desire2Learn (current RIT standard) in that it handles larger files (think DB) and is extremely instructor friendly. While I do "train" and help faculty set up courses, I find that once they learn how easy and intuitive it is, they require minimal hand-holding. In the past five years we have had no server related issues...upgrades require minimal techie intervention. In comparison with my experience teaching COB DL courses using Desire2Learn, if it were my decision, I would use moodle.

That said, I would encourage faculty to investigate what online resources are available from publishers. During a current textbook process, Wiley's EZ-Plus impressed the committee with its CMS that are content specific and ready to roll. Check it out at: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Brand/id-31.html

September 18, reply from Del DeVries [devriesd@MAIL.BELMONT.EDU]

The "what next" question that is most interesting to me is what technology is compelling for engaging students in learning? If I use Skype for online office hours, I believe that I am more accessible to students AND the opportunity for easy voice / chat / file transfer are good for solving some student problems. I can use Camtasia to create audio/video Flash demo's to illustrate a "how-to". Both Skype and Camtasia are good for communicating with students who may not physically show up in my office. But what are the other possibilities that are both cost effective, time effective, AND work to engage student learning?

The AECM (and Bob Jenson's archive of links) are a virtual treasure chest of idea's over the years. Today's students are very comfortable with wireless laptops, enhanced phones, and general savy for social networking with Facebook, etc. But at the end of the day I'm still asking the question of what technologies would be useful for engaging with tomorrow's (and today's) students.

 

Dr. Del DeVries, CPA, CISA
Assistant Professor of Accounting & Information Systems
College of Business Administration
Belmont University 1900 Belmont Blvd Nashville, TN 37212 615-460-6930

Reply from Bob Jensen on September 18, 2007

Hi Del and Jim,

When there is an unregulated monopoly, expect both prices and patent infringement suits to skyrocket. Blackboard should've never been allowed to buy WebCT. My threads on Blackboard are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Blackboard.htm

There are various competitors to Blackboard competitors, many of whom have been involved in lawsuits with Blackboard and WebCT. Many of these competitors (e.g., Sakai, Moodle, and ATutor) are listed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackboard_Inc
Some schools with severe funding problems use Moodle.

Moodle Homepage --- http://moodle.org/

The good news is that Moodle is free. A lot of colleges, especially small colleges, changed to Moodle after Blackboard commenced monopoly pricing.

You can track Moodle News (the good, the bad, and the ugly) at http://eduspaces.net/moodlenews/weblog/160022.html

Moodle purportedly is very flexible, in part, because it has open source coding. Many of the positives are outlined at http://moodle.com/
There is also a help desk.

Like many open source options, including Open Source Office, Moodle keeps getting better and better. Old criticisms may no longer be applicable. I recently gave an education technology workshop for accounting educators in Mississippi. Many of the users were happy with Moodle.

And there's Sloodle for open source virtual learning software --- http://www.sloodle.com/

December 4, 2007 message from Vidya

Second Life is a 3D virtual environment and in that regard not a competitor to Moodle at all. Sloodle is actually the Moodle counterpart to courses taught in Second Life and in that sense it's symbiotic relationship of sorts between the 3D immersive virtual environment and astandard 2D learning environment :-).

Vidya Ananthanarayanan
Instructional Support Manager
Center for Learning and Technology
Trinity University

vidya@trinity.com/210.999.7346|
http://www.trinity.edu/clt  

 

 

 

The expense of Blackboard, and all of these alternatives, in fact is much more than licensing fees. The expensive problem is the technical support staff needed to both maintain the servers (these systems have their own servers) and to train users of the system, students and staff. This is an expense that never ends. Most importantly there must be relatively expensive backup systems. Servers crash and burn. If courses across a campus become dependent on those servers, it is vital to have backup systems that can be shifted into gear almost immediately. This is where IT staff become crucial.

Of course Blackboard and other vendors like eCollege can take all the IT headaches off campus. This is something I recommend for smaller colleges, but it is more expensive in some ways and cheaper in others considering the expensive and specialized IT skills needed to maintain servers and backup systems.

Below is a virtual-office-hours tidbit for the September 28 edition of Tidbits.  I wouldn't describe virtual office hours as a competitor to Blackboard as much as it addresses Del's question of “What next?” However, at Harvard this is “What now?” Various "What next?" scenarios are listed at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm

There are many other “what next?” possibilities, the most important of which will be a joint effort (academe, standard setters, and industry) to develop massive Wiki-like and YouTube-like knowledge bases filled with pedagogical videos, spreadsheets, and hyperlinks on almost any accounting, auditing, and systems topic imaginable. These probably will be somewhat more secure than Wikipedia/YouTube, but it still will be in the open sharing and development spirit. I’m constantly amazed at the immense (over a billion) number of modules in Wikipedia that just grew and grew. My experience is that most of the modules are excellent except for some politically sensitive topics and highly specialized topics in technical disciplines.

This is why Camtasia is so important. More and more we will see YouTube-like videos that can be used tot take over more and more where the classroom leaves off. See some of the Acct 5341 and Acct5342 illustrations at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/video/ (I’m not quite sure why I downloaded the Astaire-Powel and BravoAmerica videos in  this folder a long, long time ago --- Dah!)

In the future, instructors can focus more on motivation to learn and underlying theory while leaving the technical explanations to the knowledge bases where technical explanations and illustrations can be played over and over again and again until they are understood by users. This of course is very frightening to many instructors who are practiced at explaining technical modules and lousy at explaining underlying theory.

The searching will be partly like XBRL if the knowledge base items have XML tags and eventually, as Jagdish points out, Semantic Web searching --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/XBRLandOLAP.htm

It never ceases to amaze me how much knowledge is already available in Wikipedia and YouTube. These are open sharing knowledge bases to be used with caution and suspicion. But they are unbelievably vast in terms of history and, in the case of Wikipedia, full of reference links and highly informative user discussions. Knowledge has become so vast that it boggles our minds. Rather than be scholars filled with facts and figures, we will become scholars who can tap into facts, figures, and knowledge-base explanations that we’re educated enough to comprehend on an as-needed basis.

I can’t remember how to do half the things I put into Camtasia videos (especially in my MS Access videos), but I play them back once or twice and it all makes sense again. What an aid to me these videos are whenever I have to teach something in Access, Excel, XBRL, intangible assets valuation, etc. If only others in the academy would see fit to freely share their Camtasia videos. Sigh!

Anybody interested in developing Camtasia videos might look at my PowerPoint file on Camtasia at http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~rjensen/EdTech/PowerPoint/

Bob Jensen

Updates on Sloodle and Second Life (virtual world learning) --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#SecondLife
The above link includes accounting education applications of Second Life.

The history of course management systems --- http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm


Blackboard Announces General Availability of the Blackboard Content System, March 9, 2004  --- http://www.blackboard.com/about/press/prview.htm?id=269 

Blackboard Inc., a leading enterprise software company for e-Education, today announced the general availability of the Blackboard Content System™. Currently being implemented by 19 academic institutions, the Blackboard Content System benefits students, faculty and campus IT administrators by lowering the costs and increasing the simplicity of managing learning content, digital assets and e-Portfolios in an enterprise learning environment. The announcement was made in a keynote presentation to an audience of approximately 1,300 attendees at the 2004 Blackboard Users Conference in Phoenix, AZ.

The Blackboard Content System is one system in the Blackboard Academic Suite™, a comprehensive family of integrated applications that provides a unified enterprise environment for teaching, learning, research, knowledge-sharing, communication, and student life. With Blackboard’s common platform, students, instructors and other community members quickly acclimate to a look and feel that makes the online environment as familiar as the offline campus.

The three best-of-breed solutions that make up the Blackboard Academic Suite, the Blackboard Learning System™, Blackboard Content System and Blackboard Portal System™, are made more powerful together through a shared architecture, consistent interfaces, seamless file sharing, and robust administration features. Scalable from a single department to an entire university system, the Blackboard Academic Suite provides an integrated educational experience for students, faculty and staff, and an integrated management view for IT departments.

“Blackboard has rapidly become an integral part of education at Princeton, and enhanced nearly every aspect of that education, both by facilitating existing practices, but also by making possible entirely new practices that will help maintain and enhance Princeton's leadership in higher education,” stated Serge Goldstein, Director of Academic Services, Princeton University. “The Blackboard Content System will enable our faculty to more effectively manage and reuse course content.”

The Blackboard Content System incorporates application capabilities in four key areas: 

“The Blackboard Content System provides students and faculty with better ways to track and navigate learning resources and to showcase the work products and milestones of their educational careers through e-Portfolios,” said Matthew Pittinsky, Chairman of Blackboard. “Already we have seen a great response from our early adopters, and we are pleased to be showcasing the Blackboard Content System this week at our 6th Annual Users Conference.”


From Syllabus News on March 14, 2003

LEARNING SYSTEMS -- Syracuse University has adopted Blackboard Learning System for campuswide use in supporting face-to-face classes. This spring, in the final phase of a pilot program before going to the enterprise, Syracuse has 100 faculty teaching 153 courses to more than 3,000 students using Blackboard. The school said it is making the move because of Blackboard’s ability to scale from 3,000 to 18,000 users, as well as its support of open standards and its ability to integrate with its PeopleSoft student information system.

From Syllabus News on April 30, 2002

Blackboard Targets WebCT Users in Switch Offer

Course management developer Blackboard Inc. said it would offer universities a program to enable schools using the WebCT platform to switch their existing courses to the Blackboard Learning System. In addition to WebCT, Blackboard said its EasySwitch program targets schools which use multiple course management systems and want to standardize on Blackboard. The company said its program uses proprietary technology developed to handle the conversion of existing courses to the open Blackboard format, which is based on IMS standards. Consultantgs will work closely with the school to ensure its data is accurately transferred, properly formatted, and delivered correctly in the Blackboard Learning System.

Bob Jensen's threads on Blackboard are at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/blackboard.htm 

Blackboard:  Some things really are bigger (and better)  in Texas

"Cultivating Enlightened Enthusiasm," by Mark Decker, Morrie Schulman, and Joe Sanchez, Syllabus, December 2000, pp. 16-22.

When the University of Texas at Austin selected the enterprise version of Blackboard to help implement its University portal --- UT Direct --- and to create course sites for all 11,000 courses taught at the university, only twenty-five faculty members were invited to pilot-test the courseware.  As other faculty and staff became aware that course sites were available, however, they asked to be included in the process.  this open access to Blackboard course shells, each populated with registered students, created both opportunities and problems.

The University of Texas actually implemented and supports two systems --- Blackboard and WebCT, although Blackboard will be more prevalent. 

"Customized Portal Provides Tailor-Made Information and Services." by Ginger Dillard http://www.utexas.edu/computer/news/features/0010/customization.html 

Students, faculty and staff at UT amount to a combined population of over 60,000 making it seem "virtually" impossible to please them all with one Web site. Yet, in a world of mass production, technology has made it possible to embrace personalization. Customization is key; and UT Direct makes the grade.

UT Direct is an interactive Web site that provides students, faculty and staff with access to University services anytime, anywhere. As part of the e-University initiative, the earliest services incorporated into UT Direct are primarily geared towards students. However, services for faculty and staff are already available and more are in the works.

"The beauty of UT Direct is that users can customize it. Almost everything can be changed to meet individual needs," Dana Cook, the UT Direct project manager, said. "With over 40 services available, it's important that users be able to rearrange their home page to fit their lives."

 

Channel to the Internet

Blackboard has a new service to "channel into the Internet."  From EduNet, T.H.E. Journal, October 2000, p. 44 --- http://www.thejournal.com/magazine/vault/A3101.cfm 

Blackboard Inc. announces the launch of Blackboard.com, an e-Learning Web site with three channels that provide customizable, subject-specific academic resources; global, interactive communities for students and instructors; and Blackboard’s online course creation capability. The site is accessible to anyone who possesses a Web browser, and the page is also integrated seamlessly into Blackboard 5, the company’s software platform.

Accessible channels on the site include Blackboard CourseSites, Blackboard Resources and Blackboard Communities. The Course- Sites, a large tool for creating and taking online courses, also provides online supplements to classroom instruction. Instructors can create courses for free, or they can pay a modest registration fee that provides enhanced services, including the ability to charge an enrollment fee for their courses. The Blackboard Resources incorporates Blackboard’s Web-based academic resource center, and provides teachers and learners with news, full-text journal articles and annotated links organized into 239 disciplines. The Blackboard Communities allow students and instructors to join in online discussions relevant to their academic or professional interests. Students can interact with peers studying the same subjects at institutions worldwide, and instructors can communicate with scholars in their fields across the globe. Blackboard, Inc., Washington, D.C., (202) 463-4860, www.blackboard.com 

 

 

Positive Threads

"In Victory for Open-Education Movement, Blackboard Embraces Sharing," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 19, 2011 --- Click Here
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/in-victory-for-open-education-movement-blackboard-embraces-sharing/33776?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Professors who use Blackboard’s software have long been forced to lock their course materials in an area effectively marked, “For Registered Students Only,” while using the system. Today the company announced plans to add a “Share” button that will let professors make those learning materials free and open online.

The move may be the biggest sign yet that the idea of “open educational materials” is going mainstream, nearly 10 years after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology first began giving away lecture notes online. Blackboard made the change after college officials complained that the company’s software, which more than half the colleges in the country use for their online-course materials, was holding them back from trying open-education projects.

The president of Blackboard’s learning division, Ray Henderson, plans to send an e-mail to customers today that effectively modifies the company’s contract with colleges. In the old contract, colleges could have been charged extra for every additional person who viewed course materials placed on the Blackboard software platform (because license fees were set based on the number of potential users). Now that has been “liberalized” so that any outsiders who are invited to look in will not bring extra charges to a college, says Mr. Henderson. “If it’s non-revenue for you, we understand it’s going to be non-revenue for us,” he says.

Mr. Henderson said that in the past 18 to 24 months he has heard increasing requests from colleges officials to allow sharing. He said that he wanted to make the change sooner, but that it is easier for him to win the argument now that the company, which was publicly held, has been sold to a private-equity firm, Providence Equity Partners.

“This is something that is easier to do as a private company more easily than as a public company because the risk of being misunderstood by investors is less,” says Mr. Henderson. “The investor community was skeptical about that and worried” about an open policy, he says, adding that in the new ownership model, “we had to tell three people about that at Providence, who immediately got it.”

Continued in article

Jensen Comment
Of course instructors will have to use caution when not owning some of their Bb file copyrights. For example, instructors cannot share textbook solutions openly with the world even though publishers allow sharing with students. The American Accounting Association allows free sharing of its journal articles for classroom purposes, but the AAA does not allow open sharing of its journals with the entire world.

Bob Jensen's threads on Blackboard are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Blackboard.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on open sharing are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/updateee.htm#OKI

 

 


"Blackboard Announces Collaboration With Major Textbook Publishers," by Jeff Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, July 13, 2011 ---
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/blackboard-announces-collaboration-with-major-textbook-publishers/32228?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Four major textbook providers—Cengage, Macmillan, Pearson, and John Wiley & Sons—today announced that they will build tighter links between their advanced e-textbook platforms and Blackboard’s popular course-management system.

Blackboard announced a similar deal with McGraw-Hill last year. So the company now has partnerships with the five dominant textbook publishers.

For students, a major benefit will be the ability to get to the publishers’ e-textbooks and online assignments through the campus network without having to create new logins and passwords. For professors, the new links will make it easier to push students’ grades on online quizzes from the publishers’ e-textbook systems to the gradebook they use on the Blackboard system.

The deals do not turn Blackboard into a bookstore, however. Students must purchase access to the online-textbook systems through traditional retailers such as the college bookstore, said Matthew Small, chief business officer for Blackboard. “This isn’t about a storefront—this is about making these things more interoperable,” he added. “It’s a real challenge for the universities because they have to maintain all of these different passwords” to each textbook provider, he said. “Now 90-plus percent of all of the digital-learning platforms are going to be integrated into Blackboard.”

Continued in article

Bob Jensen's threads on Blackboard (that was recently sold to a private equity outfit) are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Blackboard.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on electronic books ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/eBooks.htm

Bob Jensen's links to free electronic literature (including textbooks) ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/ElectronicLiterature.htm

"Blackboard Earns Certification for Accessibility to Blind Students," Inside Higher Ed, August 13, 2010 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/08/13/qt#235367

The National Federation of the Blind Thursday gave Blackboard, the e-learning giant, its top accessibility certification. Blackboard is the first learning-management company to earn the certification, although federation spokesman Chris Danielsen says the group had not tested all of Blackboard's competitors. Given that learning-management systems are so critical to modern education, it started working with Blackboard; the company was able to make a number of accessibility improvements in its latest version, released in the spring. Since Blackboard is by far the biggest player in the learning-management market, the federation's stamp of approval represents a big step for the visually impaired in an age when such online tools have become crucial even to brick-and-mortar institutions, Danielsen says.

Bob Jensen's threads on technology aids for handicapped learners ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm#Handicapped


The April 2011 edition of The Pulse podcast features an interview with Ray Henderson, president of Blackboard Learn, talking about future directions for Blackboard's teaching and learning division and the key differences for faculty between Angel and Blackboard 9.1. ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/04/15/qt#256990


Scenarios from Bob Jensen

Scenario 1 --- Professor Private
Why Trinity University Faculty May Prefer Blackboard to Our Traditional HTML Server

In this first scenario, suppose Professor Private wants to share material with students in a class but not with persons outside the class.  For example, the publisher of her textbook provides her with course aids and problem solutions that she can share with her students as long as she does not make the material available to the world in general.  She also prefers not to let anybody but her students read her lecture notes.  On Trinity's  TUCC HTML server, about the only security that is possible is to limit awareness of the course URL.  But this is an extremely weak form of security since most anyone can find the material.  In some cases, the material can be stumbled upon by outsiders simply by using a web search engine.  It is not possible to have secure passwords on our HTML server.  Instructors can put Javascript or VBscript passwords on documents, but these passwords cannot keep ten year old kids from easily breaking into those documents.  The Blackboard server allows for very secure password protection.  Nothing is perfectly secure.  For example, students might disclose passwords to unauthorized outsiders.  But Blackboard password risks are much lower than the risks on the HTML server.

I am reminded by John Howland that Trinity University instructors can request space on HTML servers in the Computer Science Department to achieve password protection of HTML files.

Scenario 2 --- Professor Quizalot
Why Trinity University Faculty May Prefer Blackboard to Our Traditional HTML Server

Professor Quizalot never will give any major examinations other than proctored examinations in a classroom.  However, he would like to administer weekly quizzes that do not chew up class time or take his time in grading.  Such quizzes are often administered as an incentive for students to complete assigned readings before class.  In one of my courses I have a textbook that provides online chapter quizzes that are administered and graded each week at the publisher's website.  I require that students take a quiz each week, although the quizzes comprise a very small percentage of the final grade.

What I do to prevent cheating is to assign a partner to every student, and I change the partnerships every week.  Each student is proctored by his or her partner on a remote-site computer.  Partners then sign a form that no unauthorized materials were used during the quiz and that the quiz was not taken by the designated student.  The attest form that each partner signs can be viewed at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/acct5342/attest.htm 

Suppose that Professor Quizalot at Trinity University would like to put his own quizzes online on the HTML server.  It is not possible presently to have the student answers automatically graded on the server and recorded in a grade book maintained on the server.  The only alternative at present would be to have the students email their answers and then grade them by hand.  The Blackboard server allows instructors to both administer and automatically grade online quizzes.

Blackboard Tips on Exam/Quiz Security

A useful feature in Blackboard is that it allows quizzes that randomly select question blocks from question pools. As long as the question pools are larger than the quiz, each student gets a different quiz. Multiple pools can be accessed for each quiz so that topical coverage and difficulty is consistent across students. I use blackboard for weekly quizzes to motivate students to stay current, but the midterm and the final are administered in class.

I also find essay questions on blackboard to be useful for days that a case discussion is scheduled. I can review students' answers before class to see how they are thinking about a case. I have blackboard randomly select from a question pool of pre-assigned questions so students don't know which specific questions they are going to see but they can prepare answers to a larger set of question before starting the quiz. I have received very positive feedback from students that it helps them to be better prepared for class discussion. It is also less work and easier to adminster than ontinuously collecting, grading, and returning case write-ups.

****************************************
 Leslie Kren
Associate Professor
School of Business University of WI - Milwaukee Milwaukee, WI 53201 office: 414 229-6075 fax: 414 229-6957
 lkren@uwm.edu    http://www.uwm.edu/~lkren/ 
****************************************

-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Stone
To: AECM@LISTSERV.LOYOLA.EDU
Sent: 3/13/01 8:27 AM Subject:
Re: AECM Digest - 11 Mar 2001 to 12 Mar 2001 (#2001-65)

Hi all,
Re: the blackboard question. I do all quizzes and exams (including the final) in class using blackboard and laptops. Students love this because they get immediate feedback on the objective portions of the exam -- we go over the exam as soon as everyone completes it. I love it because the grading is automatic.

Security is no more or less of an issue than for in-class paper exams. The major risk is the network / system. If it goes down then you've lost the class session (unless you generate paper copies of the exam -- which I do for major exams). To date, I've been lucky and had no major network problems.

****************************************
Dan Stone,
Gatton Endowed Chair of Accounting,
Univ. of Kentucky,
Von Allmen School of Accountancy, 355 Business & Economics, Lexington, KY 40506-0034 * internet: dstone@pop.uky.edu   www: http://gatton.uky.edu/GattonPeople/People/DepartList/AccDeptList/AccFac/ accf ac_14.html  phone: 859-257-3788, fax: 859-257-3654, office: 425G Business & Economics office: 425G Business & Economics
****************************************

Scenario 3 --- Professor Rome Roams
Why Trinity University Faculty May Prefer Blackboard to Our Traditional HTML Server

Professor Rome roamed to a conference in Rome during a very crucial week in the semester when students are engaging in team projects.  She would like to participate in each team's deliberations while in Rome.  With the Blackboard server, she can have each team meet in an online Blackboard chat room rather than in a face-to-face meeting.  In doing so, she and the students may discover that the online chats are more effective and efficient than having to schedule face-to-face meetings between team members and the instructor.

Scenario 4 --- Professor Mentor
Why Trinity University Faculty May Prefer Blackboard to Our Traditional HTML Server

Professor Mentor assembled a team of six leading experts who agreed to meet in Blackboard chat rooms once a week with teams of students.  Professor Mentor wants students to interact with leading experts on some rather advanced topics of her particular course.

One feature of Blackboard that is greatly appreciated is the ease by which Blackboard enables her to thread discussions together throughout the course.

Scenario 5 --- Professor Sharon Lightener
Why Trinity University Faculty May Prefer Blackboard to Our Traditional HTML Server

Professor Sharon Lightner from San Diego State University coordinates an innovative international accounting course that initially had five students and a professor from each of six universities in five nations who met simultaneously for an entire semester via a multimedia online classroom in which all participants could see, hear, and communicate in "classes" that were in reality chat rooms.  Although Dr. Lightner did not use Blackboard, it is possible to use Blackboard for such purposes.

In addition to students and faculty, a leading accounting practitioner from each nation met with students in these "virtual" classrooms.  Also, a representative from an accounting standard setting body met with students in these online chat rooms.

Dr. Lightner's innovative course has been very successful.  Although the number of universities has been reduced to four (in Switzerland, Spain, Hong Kong, and the U.S.), the course itself is constantly improving.  You can read more about this course at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/255light.htm.

Scenario 6 --- Professor Knowbeans
Why Trinity University Faculty May Prefer Blackboard to Our Traditional HTML Server

Professor Knowbeans does not know beans about authoring for the web and does not care to spend more than one hour learning about web authoring.  One hour is really not nearly enough time for learning how to put course materials up on Trinity's HTML server.  One hour just may be plenty of time for Knowbeans to learn how to put up course materials on the Blackboard server.

Scenario 7 --- Professor Suspicious
Why Trinity University Faculty May Prefer Blackboard to Our Traditional HTML Server

Although the HTML server has been very reliable at Trinity University. Professor Suspicious just does not trust a single system to always be reliable.  Even though a Blackboard server is housed on the Trinity University campus, it is also possible to serve up courses from Blackboard's external servers.  If the Trinity system failed for whatever reason, course materials could be quickly transferred to the external servers.

Scenario 8 --- Professor Research
Why Trinity University Faculty May Prefer Blackboard to Our Traditional HTML Server

Professor Research at Trinity University wants to conduct an international survey.  It is both technically difficult to configure and against TUCC policy to configure the HTML server to allow her respondents to fill out an online form and submit it to the server for automatic tabulation of the responses on the server.  If she puts the survey up on Blackboard, however, it becomes quite easy to put the form online and have the responses tabulated on the Blackboard server.  She can even create chat rooms where small groups of respondents collaborate in submitting a "group" response.

 



Blackboard FAQs
Although many universities are serving up Blackboard from on-campus servers, Blackboard Inc. also provides an  external-server system called Blackboard.com.  The following FAQs appear at http://company.blackboard.com/Bb/faqs.html 

http://company.blackboard.com/Bb/faqs.html#1 
What is Blackboard Inc.?
Blackboard Inc. is the leading education platform on the Internet. It provides one of the world's most popular and effective platforms for teaching and learning over the Internet and powers the online learning environments at some of the nation's most prestigious colleges and universities. Only Blackboard has a three-tiered roadmap - we call it Universal Learning Solutions (ULS). ULS enables educators and institutions to enter online teaching at a level that most closely matches their needs: single course Web sites free with Blackboard.com, multiple course Web sites with Blackboard CourseInfo, and entire online campuses with Blackboard Campus.

http://company.blackboard.com/Bb/faqs.html#2 
 What is Blackboard.com?
Blackboard.com is a FREE service that enables instructors to add an online component to their classes, or even host an entire course on the Web. Without knowing any HTML, you can quickly create your own CourseSiteTM - a Web site that brings your learning materials, class discussions, and even tests online.

 http://company.blackboard.com/Bb/faqs.html#3   
As an instructor, how can Blackboard.com help me?

Blackboard.com is an instructor's answer to harnessing the power of the World Wide Web. Our web site is so intuitive, it guides you through five simple steps for creating a virtual class - with no programming languages or HTML to learn. If you can surf the Internet, you can create a course on Blackboard.com. It is that simple. And it only takes about five minutes.  Blackboard.com incorporates numerous features to enrich the online learning experience:

Our free service enables instructors to incorporate a powerful supplement to coursework, improve student performance, create an innovative forum to discuss lessons, and customize a teaching plan to each student’s unique learning style.

http://company.blackboard.com/Bb/faqs.html#8 
If courses are free, how does Blackboard.com make money?
Blackboard.com is part of Blackboard Inc., an educational software development company. Blackboard Inc.'s primary product is CourseInfosm
a software solution that allows organizations and institutions to implement CourseSite technology for the entire organization. There is an annual fee for CourseInfo per license and this is how the Blackboard Inc. business is funded.

http://company.blackboard.com/Bb/faqs.html#9 
What is the difference between the Blackboard.com and CourseInfo?
Blackboard.com is a free, Web-based service offered not only to educational institutions and businesses but also to the general public. CourseInfo is a software solution that allows organizations and institutions to implement CourseSite technology for the entire organization



Blackboard Testimonial Videos from Northwestern University Faculty (Free Downloads) --- http://www.at.northwestern.edu/blackboard/ 
Most Windows users will want to choose the Windows Media versions.

Trinity University faculty may access these video files on my Drive J on the LAN network path 
J:\blackboard\northwestern
 
These videos play on my Windows Media Player.  On my rather dated and slow computer, the audio works great, but the video gets somewhat out of synchronization with the audio.  Nevertheless, I liked these free video testimonials about using the Blackboard system.  You can read more about Blackboard at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/blackboard.htm 

These are brief testimonials from Blackboard-using faculty from Northwestern University:  Dwight Conquergood (Professor of Performance Studies), Kathy Spier (Management and Strategies Professor in the Kellogg Graduate School of Business), and Jillana Enteen. (Assistant Professor in the Departments of English and Comparative Literature Studies).  Professor Conquergood was a first-time user of this type of technology, whereas Professor Enteen was a former user of WebCT.  She claims Blackboard is easier to use and more reliable.  (In fairness, WebCT and other competitors have upgraded versions that may make her claims somewhat dated.)   Professor Spier has used Blackboard for two years.

Kathy Spier comments on the advantages for communicating with students in large classes.  Professor Conquergood uses Blackboard in a small class of 14 students in a graduate course.  His students like the discussion boards, which he calls cyber roundtables.  Professor Enteen comments on her use of Blackboard's personalized gradebook.  She also likes the discussion board feature.

Blackboard Training Videos

Blackboard is a web-based course building / e-learning program that enables instructors to present course content to their students on the web. No programming skills are needed! It is easy to use and very powerful. Many faculty members are using it already to enhance the traditional classroom with offerings, including:

Training Tutorials

I have a favor to request from you:

If you find some good training sites, CDs, videos, or whatever else related to BlackBoard or WebCT, please let me know at rjensen@trinity.edu 
Thanks!

Bob Jensen's History and Future of Course Authoring Technologies ---  http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm 

 



Bob Jensen's message sent out on TigerTalk, April 18, 2000

The Blackboard server is now running at Trinity University. This summer, faculty may want to take some time to put course materials up on the Blackboard server. My great hope for this server is that faculty need no technical skills to put interactive materials online, conduct tests and research surveys that are automatically tabulated, and manage entire courses. In addition there are chat rooms.

After I have some time to play with Blackboard, I will try to pass along some ideas for courses. In the meantime, here are some ideas that other faculty have found useful at over 1,500 colleges who also adopted the Blackboard, WebCT, and similar servers. You can read more about such web authoring servers at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/245soft1.htm 

In the above document I provide many links and facts about the Blackboard. server.

Here are some ideas to think about in designing your courses for the Blackboard:

* Focus on major concepts --- hypertext study aids to guide students through complex concepts.

* Online quizzes with feedback --- automatically graded by the system with results reported back to the instructor.

* Password restricted entry to selected materials (e.g., answers).

* Flashcards with multimedia --- for those topics that need drill for faculty who still believe in drill for some topics and some students. For example, language drills or financial statement analysis drills can be very helpful to students.

* Links to timely, up-to-date resources to supplement your classes.

* Discussion questions --- preloaded by course module to stimulate classroom discussion.

* An interactive calendar to identify important dates such as exams, assignment due dates and more.

* Online communication tools (email, chat and threaded discussion) for student-to-student and instructor-to-student interaction.

* Management tools that allow you to track and monitor your student's progress, grade quizzes, and generate class reports.

You may want to see my advice to new faculty at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/newfaculty.htm 
Bob Jensen


Messages Sent Prior to Year 2000

Dave Feeney gave me permission to share the following message with other educators regarding Blackboard-based Faculty Development:

Dear Dr. Jensen,

My name is Dave Feeney. You may not remember me, but we met over lunch in Philadelphia with Dr. Eric Press. Since then, I have begun to work full time for the School of Business and Management here at Temple University.

I wanted to say "hello", and tell you that I feature your site in my Blackboard-based Faculty Development Course for FOX School Faculty:

http://courseinfo.temple.edu/courses/dfeeney_facdev/   

You may visit my course as a Guest by clicking on the link above, then typing GUEST as your Username and Password.

Your Trinity site is a clickable link in External Links, inside the Faculty Websites folder.

"Guesting" will also enable you to see 6 of the 8 Course areas. Feel free to look around and explore how we are using Blackboard for faculty training.

I hope you're doing well. My new FOX SBM office is now next to the accounting department in Speakman Hall 300. Drs. Eric Press and Steve Fogg in Accounting send their best.

My best,

Dave Feeney Director, Digital Education FOX School of Business & Management 215-204-2727 DistanceEd@aol.com http://oll.temple.edu/davefeeney 

Tony Tinker wrote the following with respect to Blackboard

Regarding you interest in "innovative" cost accounting courses, while not quite in line with this, my students are heavy users of Blackboard software in their Accounting Information Systems course. They complete a substantial writing / essay component (not the "short essay" variety) that is undertaken individually, as well as collaboratively in project groups. While they cover the necessary technical computing and accounting stuff, there is great emphasis on understanding the history of technology (including its social history) and relating that to understanding changes in the profession, and the accounting workplace today.

I would suggest that the innovative potential of communications technology lies, not in doing "more accounting", but in developing communication skills in the manner indicated above.

Go to: http://lavinia.cis.cuny.edu:8001/ 

Click on the third course down on the list: [Acc3202xx25, Accounting Information Systems, Tony Tinker]

When prompted, Enter: Student Id: FA0367, Password: 19780719

This gives you access to the course, as a member of student group 1 (you have access to this group's work area; it is one of 8 groups in the course).

Two routes that may be of interest from the main menu:

 

1. EXTERNAL LINKS (follow the links and this takes you to the syllabus). 2. COMMUNICATIONS > Group Pages > Group 1 (scroll to the bottom) > Discussion Board (here you will find group discussion leading up to the first electronic essay assignment -- described in the ANNOUNCEMENTS section of the course.

Please contact me if you have any problems.

Fraternally

Tony Tinker 
Professor & Co-Editor Critical Perspectives on Accounting The Accounting Forum 
Baruch College: Box E-723 City 
University of New York 17 Lexington Avenue New York, NY 10010 USA Tel: 212 802 6436 Fax: 212 802 6423 Email: TonyTinker@msn.com Email Tony_Tinker@baruch.cuny.edu 
Standing Critical Conference Website: http://bus.baruch.cuny.edu/critical/ 
Accounting Information Systems Course Site: http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/upload/ttinker/3202HOME.htm

Message from  from Roger Debreceny on January 31, 2000 (Positive Comment)

After a pretty unsatisfactory period using TopClass, my institution is switching to using BlackBoard. In the interim period before BlackBoard is loaded on our servers, I have been using the free services from http://www.blackboard.com  I am impressed with the design of the shell and the ease with which it can be taught to technophobic colleagues. Students have also taken quickly to the interface.

Are there any other AECM members using BlackBoard in an institutional environment, as distinct from the free online service? If so, please email me directly.

Thank you,

Roger Debreceny, PhD, FCPA, 
CMA Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University, 
Room S3-B1-B61 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798 
rogerd@netbox.com adebreceny@ntu.edu .sg http://www.ntu.edu.sg/home/adebreceny  
ICQ 22958324 Ph: +65 790 6049 Fax: +65 791 3697

 


Message from Phil Knutel on April 18, 2000 (Positive Comment)

We launched a Blackboard Courseinfo server here at Bentley the second week of January, and the response from faculty has been overwhelming. Some three months later, we have about 150 course websites up on it (though probably only 100 are really using a lot of the functionality). Overall, most faculty have found it very easy to use and have been pretty impressed by the variety of features. When I go to conferences and talk with my colleagues, many of whom have implemented Blackboard, WebCT, or other similar apps, there is almost universal praise for Blackboard's Courseinfo and very mixed reviews for the other products. We researched about a dozen competing products (many of these comparisons are linked from Blackboard's website), and it has been the hands-down winner in most of these evaluations.

I can see why Germain might want to stick with using Frontpage if that is what he is used to, and I could see those who have done their own webpages using HTML editors feeling constrained by the Courseinfo structure. However, the features that can be used to enrich a course found in Courseinfo would be nearly impossible for an individual, using HTML or an HTML editor like Frontpage, to create and maintain. Plus, FTPing files to a web server, getting the necessary (and secure) access to do this, explaining this process to novice technology users, etc. can present real challenges at many institutions. IF you are comfortable with viewing a Blackboard Courseinfo site simply as a course resource/tool and not as a place to creatively express yourself/your course on the web, then Courseinfo's easy to use interface and loads of features (that someone else maintains!) make it the ideal choice. It's not perfect, but the company really seems to understand the needs of faculty and are fixing current features and implementing new ones all the time.

Feel free to go to http://ecourses.bentley.edu  to see the front end we designed for our Blackboard server.

Phillip Knutel, Ph.D. Director of Academic Technology Bentley College Waltham, MA
[pknutel@LNMTA.BENTLEY.EDU


Message from Bill Spinks on April 20, 2000 (Positive Comment)

Just to reinforce what Bob has said. I had some experience with Blackboard at the ACS workshop last summer, and it is definitely useful if you are interested in doing some parts of your classes with an electronic emphasis. There are on-line samples (one free to you) at www.blackboard.com  (at least I think that is the url) for you to play with if you wish.

Some things I remember that are provided Bulletin Boards, Chat Rooms, on-line resources and notes, places to post materials (syllabi, assignments, exercises, collaborative works, peer reviews, and study quizzes, etc), posting of grades with students having access to only what you will establish, etc. Most of this is front end screens which you fill in and Blackboard does all the codlings for you....

Bill Spinks (Professor of English at Trinity University)


Message from Ken Merwin on April 20, 2000 (Positive Comment)

Asking students to submit comments for your resource is an excellent idea! Sometimes it seems that student input is lacking and it's refreshing to see you soliciting their input. I see many postings on educational list servs that never mention "student".

I have several students in my 2nd year (technical college) course that I teach over ITV between 2 satellite campuses that have really taken off on the use of Blackboard. If I had these same students for another course I know I would be able to tap some of the features such as "chat"; more threaded discussion, etc. Given that these students had no previous experience with even the use of a list serv I am darned proud of them.

I have emphasized to them that this is the type of "environment" they are likely to see for on-going professional education, etc. and a few of them may opt for moving towards their 4 (or 5) year degree where they are likely to see far more use of Internet technologies in those programs.

There has been a discussion regarding Blackboard (plus several other similar packages) over on the DEOS list serv; they maintain an archive and directions for accessing their list serv at the following:

"For browser access to DEOS-L Archives and User subscription options, go to http://lists.psu.edu/archives/deos-l.html 

DEOS-L is a service provided to the Distance Education community by The American Center for the Study of Distance Education, The Pennsylvania State University. Opinions expressed are those of DEOS-L subscribers, and do not constitute endorsement of any opinion, product, or service by ACSDE or Penn State."

Since the website you mentioned in your post, Bob, is public (versus the obvious private Blackboard sites) I am going to forward it to a small internal list serv on "Blackboard" within the Madison Area Technical College here in Wisconsin.

Best, 
Ken Merwin Technical Colleges Accounting Instructor Wisconsin
Ken Merwin [kmgraduw@CENTURYINTER.NET


Message from Ray Casaldi on April 20, 2000 (Positive Comment)

We began using Course Info (Blackboard) last year. At that time about 30 faculty used it to enhance their course work. Today over 300 faculty use it in many ways. Now our course catalog each semester uses a letter code for those courses that used Course Info to designate whether it is "assisted", "enhanced", or "based" on the Online Course system. "Assisted" means there is some use of the Web and the Online system for some of the materials and instruction, whereas "based" indicates that practically the entire course is offered over the Web.

Faculty reaction here at Towson, has been very favorable, as indicated by the rapid growth in use. There are however a couple of difficult parts of it, principally in the Quiz/Test assessment area...It is rather difficult to use, and this is especially cumbersome if the instructor has questions and problems already prepared that need to be "copied" to the Online course system.

With the frequent updates to the Online system, I hope they fix this and other sections to make it even easier to use.

Ray Castaldi
Castaldi, Ray [rcastaldi@TOWSON.EDU


I have to let my favorite tax professor, Amy Dunbar, have her say even if its not on a "Blackboard."  April 20, 2000:

I have been reading a lot about Blackboard, and I thought I would put in my 2 cents worth for WebCT. I am not familiar with Blackboard, other than hearing that it is easier to use than WebCT but not as comprehensive. WebCT is generally installed on a university server rather than the school of business server. Like Blackboard, it has a good listserv. The licensing fee is $3,000 per year for unlimited student usage. http://about.webct.com/buy/price_lic.html#pro 

I am on a technology in education panel at the Northeast Regional Meeting this week. I prepared an overview doc of WebCT, including a section that discusses my use of WebCT. http://www.sba.uconn.edu/users/adunbar/webct/usingwebct.htm  This web page is a work in progress, but the overview doc is the first link.

Despite all the critics who find it clunky, I love it. I can use html, but I much prefer having WebCT do it for me. I recently discovered the power of the WebCT calendar. I intend to use it to provide links to my notes, assignments, etc. It's wonderful! And yes, my students are having fun with WebCT, too. The student use of the bulletin board and chat room has been great. I put my weekly homework out as a "quiz." The students use the board and chat rooms to work the homework together (I want my students to work together - the exams can tell me if they learned anything). On Thursdays, they take the quiz on WebCT, and the grading is automatically done. I love it! If you like computation problems, use the short answer questions, which allow students to type in the answer. You can also use essay questions, but you have to grade them on the web. I save essays for my exams, which I still do with paper and pencil in a classroom.

This summer, one of our tax classes will be taught in Stamford and in Hartford. I will share a WebCT site with the Stamford professor, so that our students will get to learn using the same tools. The shared access feature of WebCT makes it possible for both instructors to use the site. In addition, all students can access the same homework, notes, projects, and self-tests.

My next step will be to use it for a distance learning class, but that's in the future.

Amy Dunbar [ADunbar@SBA.UCONN.EDU


Message from Lim Poh Gek on April 28, 2000 (Positive Comment)

Dear Prof Bob Jensen,

I am Julie from the same Nanyang Technological University as Prof Roger Debreceny. May I make use of your write-up on Blackboard Advice and Message Threads to be put in my department website for our academic staff to read?

At the same time, I like to say that I agree with Prof Roger that the weakest area for Blackboard is the Assessment area. There is a need to scroll down to read the whole question if the question exceeds 255 characters including white space (which is too limited). It cannot be timed to be released at the specific time and date of the assessment. You can only make it unavailable, and when you want to release the assessment, you make it available.

However, Prof Roger does not know it is only the free version of Blackboard CouseInfo which he is using that cannot randomize the questions. The actual version that we are getting from Blackboard Inc. has the Pool Manager which can do randomizing of questions in the assessment. However, I have yet to try out this randomizing of the items in the item bank of assessment questions as the software platform is not here yet.

On the positive note, having this free version of Blackboard CourseInfo for us to try out is a very quick way to get ourselves familiarise with it first. Also, the featured coursesites offer us free sample courses to emulate and tap ideas and to spurn new ideas on developing our online courses.

I will like to know anyone who has made use of other assessment tools implemented in the Blackboard environment, and who can share the experience with us. Has anyone tried making use of Macromedia CourseBuilder (which needs Dreamweaver Version 3) to run the assessment part of his/her online course using Blackboard?

Thank you!

With Best regards! 
Lim Poh Gek, Julie Centre for Educational Development (CED) email : pglim@ntu.edu.sg Nanyang  Technological University, Singapore
Lim Poh Gek [PGLim@ntu.edu.sg


Message from Lim Poh Gek on May 3, 2000 (Positive Comment)

Dear Prof Jensen,

Yes, you can make use of my comments. However, only yesterday the regional manager of Blackboard Inc., Mr Simmons, came to NTU and he told us that the latest version of Blackboard platform will have this feature of setting the dates and times of release for several assessment quizzes. Also, they are incorporating question-mark software into Blackboard at no extra charge. Also, they are going to incorporate into Blackboard the ability to type in special characters, mathematical symbols, and equations even in the Discussion threads.

Thank you for your approval to make use of your write-up.

With Best regards! 
Lim Poh Gek, 
Julie Centre for Educational Development (CED) email :
pglim@ntu.edu.sg 

Note from Bob Jensen:  Question Mark Software's homepage is at http://www.questionmark.com/

Computerizing Testing, Surveys and Assessments with Question Mark! Question Mark is a powerful tool for computerizing quizzes, tests, assessments and surveys. It is easy to use by both the question designer and the candidate or participant. Question Mark saves time and money while allowing you to present questions with videos, graphics and a wide variety of styles.

How does it work?

Question Mark software allows you to create question files while the participant uses a run-time system or a Web browser to answer your questions. The participant receives the feedback that you have specified. Answers are then saved to a file for scoring and analysis.

Why two sets of hyper-links?

Question Mark operates worldwide and provides two web servers to provide easy access, one located in North America and one located in Europe. These servers contain unique and specific information for the territories they serve.


An email message from Patricia Doherty on November 9, 2000

We have "Blackboard" at BU. I do not every print any handouts, not even the syllabus.. Most students are familiar with the system. For those who might not be (occasional transfer student) I put the web address on the board. The students, by this point, are also expected to have email accounts. So, I email everyone before the semester begins to tell them where to look for the syllabus. From then on, I transmit everything except exams online. I accept online assignments, and seldom print them, because I keep them short enough that they are not hard to read on the monitor. Then, I can return them via a digital "dropbox" and never have a piece of paper to deal with. Some students still turn in written assignments, and that is fine with me.

I find email and attachments work well for answering questions, so they don't have to necessarily visit the office. They can show me what they were working on, and I can add comments to move them forward. Again, works for my hours and theirs. They can send it at 2AM when they are awake, and I can answer it at 8 AM when I am awake.

Patricia Doherty [pdoherty@BU.EDU


 

 



Negative Threads

August 5, 2011 message from Richard Campbell

I am amazed at the significant retrogression from prior versions. Tasks that were previously very simple to do, are now very difficult. Even the Help utility is bizarre - in doing a key word search, you get solutions for multiple prior versions.

Instead of suing and buying their competition, they should have more closely kept their eyes on the home turf.

Bob Jensen's threads on Blackboard are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Blackboard.htm


Learning Management System (LMS) --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_management_system

"New Course-Management Software Promises Facebook-Like Experience," by Alexandra Rice, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 29, 2011 ---
Click Here
http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/new-course-management-software-promises-facebook-like-experience/34488?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en

Three University of Pennsylvania students who recently dropped out to start an upstart course-management system today unveiled their software, called Coursekit, after having raised more than $1-million in venture capital.

The trio, frustrated with the systems offered by universities, such as Blackboard, decided to team up and design their own online course platform, which emphasizes social networking and an easy-to-use interface. By May, the founders, Joesph Cohen, Dan Getelman, and Jim Grandpre, had raised so much start-up cash, from sources including the Founder Collective and IA Ventures, that they decided to quit school to focus on developing Coursekit.

Thirty universities tested Coursekit this fall, including Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania.

Coursekit offers a platform for hosting discussions, posting grades and syllabi, sharing calendars and links, and creating student profiles. The company has hired 80 student ambassadors to introduce the new course-management system to students at colleges across the country.

The software is one of several new challengers to Blackboard, which is used by a majority of U.S. colleges. In October, Pearson announced OpenClass, a free course-management system, and last year a Utah company called Instructure unveiled Canvas, which is available under an open-source license.

"Freeing the LMS," by Steve Kolowich, Inside Higher Ed, October 13, 2011 ---
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/10/13/pearson_announces_free_learning_management_system

Bob Jensen's threads on tricks and tools of the trade ---
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/000aaa/thetools.htm

Bob Jensen's threads on the history of Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Course Management Systems (CMS) are at
http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/290wp/290wp.htm

 


Note from Bob Jensen
 


Message from Germain Boer on April 18, 2000 (Negative Comment)

We have been using Blackboard here at the Owen School (at Vanderbilt) for about two years. I am not a user of it, because you have to crawl inside Blackboard and stay there to use its features. I was able to paste links to all my web pages into Blackboard, but I basically stopped using it because I did not want to develop material for Blackboard that would disappear if we stopped using it. I prefer to develop materials that will be available to my students on the web regardless of the browser they use.

If I start using Blackboard, I am a slave to it. Anything such as quizzes and exercises I develop in Blackboard (and these features are very nice) are useable only by people who are using Blackboard.

Maybe I am too old to change, but I just keep on using Frontpage to develop my web stuff.

Germain Boer [Germain.Boer@OWEN.VANDERBILT.EDU]

Note from Jensen:  Although students must use Blackboard for interactive quizzing and grade recording, others from around the world who enter the system as invited "Guests" can view documents.  Guests need not have Blackboard installed on their own computers (actually the only Blackboard software is on the Blackboard server and not on any student's computer).  However, Germain is correct in the sense that the Guests cannot take the quizzes and have their grades tabulated unless they are reclassified to Student status by the instructor.

Also note that course materials can be simultaneously placed on both the Blackboard server and on an HTML server.  It may be best to put public-access HTML documents on the HTML server so that those documents can be found by search engines of the world.  Private documents, interactive quizzes, chat room threads, and survey instruments can be put up on the password-controlled Blackboard system.


Message from Roger Debreceny on April 21, 2000 (Some Limiting and Annoying Features)

As I mentioned in an email some time ago, NTU has adopted BlackBoard CourseInfo Enterprise as the platform of choice. A prime selection criterion for NTU was the ability to integrate BB with our Oracle-based registry system.

In preparation for coordinating a course with some 400 students next semester, I have been using the free version of BlackBoard for an MBA class, along with colleagues. I would like to reinforce a number of points that have been raised in previous emails .. BlackBoard is easy to use for both faculty and students. The differing roles of instructor, grader etc,. has been well thought out. The support for student groups is esp. strong. I have also been making use of upload of zip files. BB unpacks the site and asks you which file is the entry point. This works well for, for example, complete HTML sites and HTML versions of PowerPoint presentations.

The assessment component is clearly the weakest feature -- no question or block randomisation, no feedback on individual incorrect answers in MCQs, no bulk upload (which TopClass handled *very* well) and most irritatingly of all, no HTML in the questions. No HTML in discussion items is also annoying.

I understand that Prentice-Hall has bought a share in BB and that P-H teaching materials will be brought to BB very soon.

Roger Debreceny [rogerd@NETBOX.COM


Reply to Roger from Barbara McCartney

Dear Roger

I have spent the last 18 mths teaching large and small classes with WebCT and found it clunky but useful in V1.3 but with upgrades to V2 and V2.1 I have finally concluded that this product is a nightmare and I wonder what goulish excitement is pending in V3. I have been quietly experimenting with Blackboard using a free course and at this stage I prefer Blackboard and your comments have reinforced this view. Nevertheless I wonder what happens when institutions like my own are somewhat financially locked into a 'good' product which then becomes a more of a problem than a solution. Generally and only out of this experience I am wondering if Universities should hold off making major commitments to any one product eg Blackboard etc at this stage rather than give one provider monopoly status. Instead it may be better to concentrate on infrastructure which would support multiple courseware products. I believe this is happening at UWS. 
Regards
Barbara McCartney [bmccartn@METZ.UNE.EDU.AU


Reply to Barbara from Roger

Dear Barbara and all ..
Well, I am not sure about multiple platforms. Anything that requires students to have to 
learn new systems is not desirable. One of our ambitions with the Enterprise edition is 
to build a complete student platform that will have an entree to all of their courses, 
registration information etc.
etc. This would be something along the lines of http://my.ucla.edu/ 
If we are talking about monopoly status, I think there is a greater problem with publishers 
trying to lock us not only now into particular textbooks but also the associated Web sites. 
My guess is that it is going to be very difficult for faculty to simultaneously change textbooks 
*and* Web sites.
Roger Debreceny [rogerd@NETBOX.COM]
 

 
 
 


Blackboard and Datatel Partnering
WASHINGTON, D.C. and FAIRFAX, Va. – August 13, 2001 – Blackboard Inc., the leading
Internet infrastructure company for e- Education, and Datatel, Inc., the premier provider of
advanced information management solutions for higher education, today announced an
agreement to develop an integrated solution that delivers a unified online campus environment
for clients. The solution will enha nce the companies’ ongoing efforts to tie together key front-end
applications from Blackboard – including courses, communities and auxiliary services –
with critical back-office services from Datatel such as human resources, finance, institutional
advancement, and student information.
Michael J. Stanton Tricia, Blackboard Inc.. (202) 463-4860 x305 mstanton@blackboard.com 
Tricia Score, Datatel, Inc.  (703) 227-1010 txs@datatel.com 

 

An email message from James Greenberg [greenbjb@snyoneva.cc.oneonta.edu] on 9/27/00

Some of the negative aspects of Blackboard are discussed in the following message comparing the SUNY homegrown system with the Blackboard (Bb) system:

Robert, 
Here are a few examples of why I think the SUNY Learning Network (SLN) is better than Blackboard (Bb).

The SLN has a far superior way for a faculty member to move documents around in the course after they are posted. In Bb you must remove the document and re-add it in the new place. This sounds small but it is a big deal for me, especially during the development of a course.

The SLN's method for faculty creating assignments, having students complete them, the faculty member grade them and provide feedback, and finally the student to review their graded or reviewed work is much much better than either Bb or Web CT. This is a critical piece for me and I find when I use Bb I really don't like the way I have to do it compared to the SLN way.

The SLN has a "red pen" that automatically works when evaluating student assignments so students can see you comments within their original work. It all flows within the SLN system. In Bb you have to export the work into Word or similar, review it then put it back in the Student's Drop Box. It is difficult, time consuming and frankly doesn't work well for me or the students. Copy and pasting 120 assignments per week and then dropping them in a drop box is way to much work. In the SLN I can read the response, grade it and send it back to the student all from the same window.

The SLN interface for discussion areas is much clearer for students than the Bb one. This is a hard one to explain, but easy to show.

Grading student work is MUCH faster in the SLN since all work is "replicated" to your local machine and you work faster. Each time you call up a paper or assignment in Bb you wait for the web and sometimes it is sluggish. Imagine grading 120 papers a week!! The SLN is very very fast and makes going through a large number of discussion postings or assignments much faster. That is you spend all your time doing the real work of evaluation and not waiting for the next page to display because of the web.

SLN allows for links to other SLN pages. That is you can link from one place in your course to another. This is not possible in Bb and really limits things you can do to help students navigate through the course documents. If you are familiar with Bb, imagine being able to link from your syllabus to assignment documents.

After years of use and thousands of courses offered all from a central place where the people are truly instructional design experts (who are now also very very experienced), SLN has really matured. They have taken this experience and knowledge and built custom templates for faculty that really help. Bb , in my opinion is not there yet. For example, they have built a very nice automated matrix for grading where students and faculty can see their assignments and the modules of the course in one nice snapshot so they can quickly see what they have to do and what they have done. I know of no such feature in Bb without building your own somehow.

SLN has built a reliable, redundant server environment that supports 50+ campuses. Bb usually is done by an individual campus with smaller (often not adequate) resources. With SLN you rarely have any down time. With Bb you can expect the normal server outages and although your IS people might tell you there will be little or no outages, don't believe them. You will have them.

I could go on.....

Having said all this, one has to wonder about the future of a "home grown" CMS package like SUNY has built vs. Bb or WebCT? Even if SLN is better now, will it be in the future? Certainly Bb (or WebCT) has money and will grow and get better. Are we better served by using Bb and living with it until it matures? Perhaps. I hope this helps and feel free to share my comments with anyone so you can get their perspectives and criticisms of what I have said.

Harold GoeddeSUNY-OneontaDivision of Business and EconomicsOneonta, NY 13820 607-436-2544 -- Mr. James B. Greenberg Director Teaching, Learning and Technology Center Milne Library 
SUNY College at Oneonta Oneonta, New York 13820 email: greenbjb@oneonta.edu  phone: 607-436-2701


From Syllabus News on December 11, 2001

Blackboard, CollegisEduprise Expand Partnership

Blackboard Inc. and CollegisEduprise, Inc. said they would bundle their respective tools and services to strengthen their offerings to the higher education market. The collaboration will blend the Blackboard 5 Learning System, software licensing, application hosting and integration services from Blackboard with education assessment, strategic planning, end-user help desk services, and faculty pedagogical training from CollegisEduprise. Clients of both companies include the Community College of Denver, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Montgomery Community College, New York Institute of Technology, Norfolk State University and the University of Baltimore.


From SyllabusNews on August 6, 2002

Sylvan Learning Standardizes on Blackboard

Sylvan Learning System's online higher education division adopted the Blackboard Learning System as its online operating system. Under the agreement, Sylvan will use a customized version of Blackboard for course authoring, management and delivery. Sylvan, one of the leaders in for-profit consumer education, has broadened its position in the post-secondary e-Learning market to 3,127 enrollments in 2002. Sylvan will now use Blackboard across its online higher ed offerings, which include Walden University for working professionals in education, management, health, and psychology; National Technological University for engineering, management, and computer-related fields; Canter & Associates for education professionals; and OnlineLearning.net, a partnership with UCLA Extension, University of San Diego Continuing Education, and Andrews University.


Nuventive's iWebfolio 

From Syllabus News on February 18, 2003

Blackboard to Integrate Nuventive Electronic Portfolios

Course management company Blackboard Inc. and Nuventive, which provides assessment and portfolio solutions for higher education, agreed to integrate Nuventive’s iWebfolio electronic portfolio software with the Blackboard Learning System. Nuventive's iWebfolio is an electronic portfolio that gives students and faculty and staff the ability to store, organize, and display personal "learning" evidence to faculty, admissions offices, and employers through the creation of any number of portfolio views. Portfolios can contain work samples, learning goals, personal reflections, educational and professional accomplishments, in a variety of formats including text and multimedia. Users will be able to share course-related documents with instructors, study group members, and organization members.

 


Readers can access the Blackboard home page at http://www.blackboard.com/ 

Readers can read about Blackboard and its competitors at http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/245soft1.htm