Thursday, June 12, 2008

Creating a 17,000 dollar Paperweight

Those who keep up with such things probably are aware of the case between Blackboard and Desire2Learn.

What they fail to see is the strain on the customers of BOTH software services. In the end both learning management systems are simply different flavors of a glorified web browser based application. (Both will be lucky if Google doesn't put them both out of business with all of their new collaborative tools.) In the end the LMS is a repository and unfortunately does not have much ACTIVE content. You can't edit together inside the LMS--BB or D2L. About the most active that any LMS can be is contributing to a discussion board or taking a quiz/survey. Any active content is linked to or created OUTSIDE the box.

What matters to me as a consumer, however, is that there are OTHER applications involved besides the powerhouses in the lawsuit.

These tools provide the active content our students are seeking. If one company decides not to share what is needed to integrate those technologies in, the people who lose are the school systems that bought the 3rd party software to meet the needs that the LMS didn't.

It takes time and careful thought is the answer you hear from either LMS when asked why this or that tool hasn't been added in. In the end it takes OPENESS and money. No one wants to share their code for fear of a lawsuit and neither has time to focus their efforts to integrating the tools because they are "avoiding lawsuits."

Peering, sharing, openess, and globalization under the research from Tapscot and Williams should be the driving force of any educational software company. It is what our students are doing, and if the LMS doesn't do what they or we as educators need to do to engage each other, it is not a good investment.

People Teach People! That is the Wimba motto. I wish those involved in the LMS war would look at that motto and pick it up as well. It isn't about the repository or the labeling of content for our students or us! It is about exploration, experience, and the sharing of that experience through group content.

The underpinnings of an LMS are NOT patentable (is that a word lol?). An LMS is a mashup of every existing Web 1.0 tool and of the HTML/XHTML language. It is as if Al Gore tried to patent the internet by saying he invented it. There were hundreds of thousands of hands and still are hundreds of thousands of hands creating the technology.

I digress.

The point is, move on without fear D2L and Blackboard stop wasting your energy.

Both should concentrate on making a product we want to buy. Liaise fair!

If anyone is going out to pick an LMS--here is an excellent shopping tip:
Are the tools you teach with in the LMS and is the LMS compatible with HOW you teach.

Even outside of the battleground there are other LMS software companies, and they need to be learning from this battle of titans--how will their product meet Web 2.0? How will it incorporate Web 3.0 (Experiential learning i.e. virtual worlds)?

Angel learning is about the only one I've seen planning for 3.0. They have an island on Second Life.

In the end, its about the right tool for the right job and getting the support for the tool and support for the tools the LMS doesn't have time to engineer on their own. Open up--let the light in.

I am looking at those in the LMS war and I am looking at my box of useless building blocks and add ons an I am saying to at least one party--HELP!

1 comment:

Anne Wall said...

Great post, Kat - and so true. I know it's frustrating from your end, but as a faculty user, it is equally ridiculous. Learning a new course management system seems to have become an annual task for us - in addition to what we are suppose to do for our "real" job (teach, advise, research, publish, present, etc.). I have quit trying most of the new "tools" - often it seems about the time I get used to them and am using them effectively, they are no longer available.
A few years ago I began creating all my online course content in html. That way it stays with me on my computer, in the form I want it, no matter the LMS!