Friday, June 12, 2009

All change at Blackboard?

In mid May Blackboard appointed Ray Henderson as the new President of the Blackboard Learn division, one of the most respected people in the ed tech field and someone totally committed to openness. At the time Michael Feldstein set down three tests for the new Blackboard as an indicator of whether Henderson's appointment did mean real change in the company.
"The first thing I will be looking for Blackboard to do is to drop the patent suit...

The second sign I will be looking for that Blackboard is learning from Ray and the ANGEL team is that they implement IMS Common Cartridge—including export—in the main Bb Learn product. Open educational resources is a coming (albeit slow) revolution in education. Enabling teachers to export content in an open, sharable format will enable the LMS (including Blackboard’s) to become a platform that facilitates this revolution. An enlightened businessperson would understand that being viewed by your customers as a facilitator of positive industry change is worth the risk of making it a little easier for customers to leave your product. This is probably one reason why ANGEL, under Ray’s leadership, became the first platform in the industry to support Common Cartridge import and export. Blackboard, on the other hand, does not make open content export easy...

The third test of whether whether Blackboard is serious about learning to be more open is whether they implement IMS LIS across all their LMS products. This is actually an area where neither company has delivered the goods yet (although, to be fair, both have publicly committed to doing so). LIS will make customers able to get higher quaility integration between LMS and SIS at lower cost. It will enable them to pay less to vendors in consulting fees and be more able to migrate from one platform to another."
It's too early to tell yet (at least from the outside) whether he's made any difference but interestingly enough Ray Henderson has just started a blog, another I'll be adding to my newsreader.

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