Archive for June, 2008

Upward trend line

Here’s another good Campus Technology article (Linda Briggs, 6/4/08 ) this time on higher ed trends in the field of learning management systems (LMS), utilizing data from the recent Gartner survey. I noted three primary trends from the article, which shouldn’t be particularly new or surprising, to any of you keeping a watchful eye on where LMSs are headed. Still, they’re interesting and telling:

Trend #1: 

Increased usage of Open Source products; mainly Sakai and Moodle. The surprising leader in growth of the two: Moodle. Gartner predicts that Open Source platforms will secure 35% of market share by the end of 2008.

Trend #2:

Increased development of home-grown products. Unlike the completely “coded-from-scratch” versions we saw in the late 1990s and early millenium, home-grown iterations today may call from “a variety of other content management portal applications with relatively good, usable toolsets.” Campuses now can create their own e-learning systems with these tools. Or they can customize their own LMS using Lotus or SharePoint. 

 Trend #3:

Additions of social technology-type tools in all LMSs (we saw that coming!)

So let me offer one rant on Trend #3. If one of the main complaints of the LMSs over the past half-dozen years is that they turned into monolithic learning environments which don’t play well with others, why silo-ize even more? Ok, sure there are security issues, but let’s get busy figuring out this collaboration bit. Wouldn’t the resources be better spent coding for integration and interoperability so we don’t see the emergence of each platform coming up with its own [duplicative] e-portfolio, blog, and version of MySpace?

Is it me? Am I just being cranky today?


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Well, it has been one week and four days since we (the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system) upgraded to Desire2Learn’s version 8.3. While upgrading to this latest learning environment brought the promise of a number of feature enhancements, the impetus behind getting us [and the rest of D2L’s American clients] to this latest version – in record time – was to be able to keep the doors open on our mission-critical web-based learning environment for our system’s 200,000+ users. [We get over 20 million hits a day during the academic year]. Version 8. 3 WAS the wormhole to an alternatate patent infringement-free universe. [See my prior posts for the two-year Blackboard vs. D2L lawsuit history.]

The ink isn’t dry yet on our change document and Blackboard is back in the ring. It it took only one week and two days post our version 8.3 upgrade for them to re-enter the Texas court system, this time with a contempt motion. Blackboard claims the 8.3 learning environment “did not sufficiently correct its software to remove code and features that infringe on Blackboard’s e-learning patent.”

I just finished reading what is probably the best and most informative article on this 2-year battle and recent legal action, “Blackboard Continues Pursuit of Desire2Learn,” written by David Nagel in Campus Technology (June 18, 2008). In the article he asks and gets answers to some burning questions we have all bandied about. Here’s a teaser for you:

BB keeps saying that should Desire2Learn “not prevail with its 8.3 attempted design-around, or should they not survive financially,” they would be committed to working with D2L’s clients to make sure they find a solution that doesn’t interrupt their online programs. Well, Nagel has the chutzpah to ask BB executives just what they mean by this, if not the obvious.

How about this one? Would BB go after individual institutions or schools who continue to use D2L? You’ll have to read the article to find out (clue: p.3).


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Image of Obama\'s Twitter page

Do you recall my earlier post from January, 2008 called “Will Use of Facebook, MySpace for 2008 Election Translate to Campaign Success?” Here are some of the questions I posed at the time: Will the use of networking technologies impact election results and will there be a correlation between election success and the use of these technologies?

Here is one post-mortem analysis as to why Barak clinched the Democratic nomination this past Tuesday. It’s from Bruce Nussbaum’s blog  in BusinessWeek. In today’s post, Nussbaum states “perhaps the most important (reason Clinton lost the nomination) is that the Obama campaign’s use of modern principles in design thinking and web social networking was superior to Hillary’s traditional approach of marketing metrics and personal networking.”

He goes on to say:

New digital networking is better than old personal networking. Obama raised more money from more people using the net than Clinton raised using lunches and dinners. His digital network was far larger, younger and more middle class. Her personal network was much smaller, older and richer. He used Twitter to great effect. She uses twitter but to little effect. Jason Oke points out on his blog that on Twitter, Obama’s campaign offers to follow you once you sign up. He has 33,000 people signed up—and follows 33,000 people. Hillary’s Twitter site does not follow people when they sign up and has only 4,000 people on it. As Oke puts it, Obama has a different—and better-grammar of social media.”

The new literacy IS all about digital social networking (and I’ll toss in avatars) and how to leverage better outcomes using them.

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In an interesting turn of the tables, Blackboard now finds itself in court on the defense side of things. TechRadium Inc., a Sugar Land, Texas-based technology company, filed a patent infringement lawsuit Monday May 19th against Blackboard in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. TechRadium is claiming that NTI Inc., a recent Blackboard acquisition, is selling products which are in violation of TechRadium’s patent.

The lawsuit involves a mass communication messaging system, something campuses nationwide began implementing immediately after the Virginia Tech incident. TechRadium’s messaging system allows for the sending of a single message to mulitiple types of devices. One message can be sent to “cell phones, pagers, standard landline telephones and e-mail,” according to TechRadium’s complaint. Before TechRadium was on the scene, company officials claim, mass messaging systems required the sending of separate messages for each type of receiving device. With TechRadium’s technology, multiple messaging was eliminated, streamlining the burdensome device-tracking and message-sending processes.

TechRadium is seeking compensation for “lost profits, reasonable royalties and other litigation-related costs,” though no dollar figures have been set. NIT, Inc. also is seeking an injunction against Blackboard to stop “future sales of the alleged infringing products”. Compensation for royalties, and injunctions…where have I heard those words recently?

-Source: Washington Business Journal, June 4, 2008

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