1) Trust me. I know how to use at least two different learning management systems, including the one at our school. I can train you to use at least a dozen different technologies to help you create interesting multimedia or content for your online course. I’m familiar with all the things that do and don’t work about Blackboard. This is my job. I’m good at it. Trust me.
2) Have some humility. It’s okay if you don’t know what a measurable objective is, or how to write a rubric. I do. I can teach you how to do that. It’s cool: You’re a college faculty member, which means you didn’t jump through the hoops of pedagogical training and teaching licensure that your K-12 colleagues have. And I’d be happy to show you the best ways to do these things if you would just…
3) …Stop fighting me. You think this course won’t work online. So did all the other faculty I’ve worked with. With respect, I’m going to prove you wrong. And stop complaining about objectives. The reason you don’t like my way of doing them isn’t because my way is wrong (it isn’t), it’s because it’s not easy. Writing objectives the right way is hard. It’s time consuming. So is making a proper rubric with defined criteria, appropriate levels of proficiency and clear examples of what it means to meet them. I know how to do this, and I will take the time to share what I know with you. Stop fighting me.
4) Follow my process. I don’t like wasting time. I’m probably building a few other courses alongside yours, or at least working on about two other projects at any given moment. My process is refined and structured to be as efficient and easy as possible for everyone involved, especially you. No, you can’t start building your schedule or syllabus until you’ve finished your course level objectives. Why? Because those objectives should define and guide every learning activity and every piece of learning material that goes into that course. If you do it the other way around, it’ll be a huge mess, you won’t have any focus, and I’ll be adding in content at the last minute as you scramble around trying to figure out what you forgot. Because you didn’t follow my process. Follow my process.
5) Keep some perspective. While my job responsibilities may include helping you build your course, you are not by any means my only project. When you miss your deadlines, it puts me behind and steals my focus from other work I have to do. I am not here just for you. That doesn’t mean you don’t have my full attention at our meetings (you do), or during the time I block out to build your course and content. But if you don’t meet your deadlines and provide me with content, I can’t build it for you. I also have to divert time from my other responsibilities to finish something I could have done for you earlier. Please don’t think you can put off working on your course, or miss a deadline because you are under the impression that your course is the only thing on my plate.
Those are my top five. Anyone have anything else to add?
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.
Because who needs competition? Blackboard ruined innovation in the LMS market the year they were effectively handed a patent for a generic LMS on a platter. Since then they’ve continued to monopolize the industry by purchasing all their competitors. This is ridiculous, and it shouldn’t be allowed.
It’s a pretty compelling idea, even more so given that it was student-developed rather than corporate. Click through if you’d like to learn a bit more.
I’ve asked several times this year (here, here, and here) if the education world really needs another LMS. Regardless of how boring the Blackboard-bashing has become (to me personally at least), the number of new entrants in the LMS field does indicate that folks believe there’s room for competition and improvement. Certainly there is still a strong (and overwhelmingly negative) response to the incumbent players. As such, almost everyone in the learning management system industry now says that they’re rethinking what an LMS should do.
That includes, of course, Coursekit, which is taking a more social approach than administrative approach to the LMS. “Our goal is to turn courses into communities online,” says CEO Cohen. Doing so “transforms the learning experience from something that happens twice a week into a continuous conversation.”
[This] change will allow instructors to publish and share their courses — syllabi, handouts, and so on — under a Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY). This will mean that, for the first time, content in Blackboard will be available to those who aren’t registered for a course — learners not enrolled, learners not on campus. Professors will be able to share their material to Facebook and Twitter.
"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."
You’re just now starting to have this concern with Blackboard?
For those of you stuck with or forced to run your courses on Blackboard, here’s a great way to embed a Twitter widget into your course site. My presumption is that it would work for most other web-based pages (webpages, if you will).
The fact is that it matters little to our students if the LMS is proprietary or open source, and the advanced features we spend so much time wishing for are useless without investments that result in good course design. If we want to get the most out of whatever LMS we have on campus we need to:
Invest in people to partner with our faculty to help design, develop and run courses. These people include learning designers, media specialists, educational technologists, and librarians.
Engage in systematic course re-design, particularly for our large introductory lecture courses.
Be willing to move to models of blended learning that invert the classroom, freeing up precious face-to-face time for discussion, debate and hands on work, and moving much of the lecture portion of the course to asynchronous platforms.
Utilize analytics from a range of learning outcomes to discover, reinforce and scale best teaching practices and methods, and to facilitate targeted early intervention for students who are at risk of having poor outcomes in gateway courses.
Joseph Cohen says he’s fed up with Blackboard. The leading course-management software is overloaded with features and dreadfully designed, making simple tasks difficult, says Mr. Cohen, a student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He’s not much kinder to other solutions: “It’s ridiculous,” he says, that some professors still post syllabi as clunky Microsoft Word documents.
Mr. Cohen and a classmate, Dan Getelman, have launched Coursekit, a stripped-down online learning-management system that offers a discussion board, a calendar, a syllabus, and related resources for courses at Penn. Mr. Cohen says he hopes Coursekit’s simple interface and Facebook-inspired tools will help make online discussions in a course as social as the course itself.
“It’s the classic example of a bloated and bad industry,” he says, “and we think it’s about time that it ends.”
TH-ROWS THA HAMMA DOWN!
No, but seriously. How long until Blackboard buys or sues them? Repeat after me: Competition is good.
Quoted from the press release, so my endless apologies for the PR spin you’re about to ingest:
Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) today announced the launch of CourseSites by Blackboard, a free, fully hosted and supported online course system featuring the Company’s latest teaching and learning technologies. The offering gives individual K-12 and higher education instructors an innovative, high quality cloud-based option to host online courses or add a Web-based component to traditional ones.
The simple, easy to use system gives educators greater choice and flexibility for online courses in a system with cutting edge features that encourage experimentation. CourseSites is designed to support instructors who may not have access to a learning management system at their institution or school, or who may have access to an older platform system from Blackboard or a competing course management provider. There is no license fee, no hosting fee and no additional setup required for instructors to get started.
Based on Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1 - the Company’s newest platform for teaching and learning - CourseSites features a range of social learning tools and Web 2.0 functionality. The system also features integrated technologies from Blackboard partners and platform offerings that will be expanded over time, including Blackboard Collaborate(TM) instant messaging, live collaboration, conferencing and voice tools; assessment, self-assessment and locked browser tools from Respondus, Inc.; and content authoring tools from SoftChalk LLC.
Common standards for online learning became more likely this week after Blackboard, Inc. announced that it would support an open database initiative that could make educational content usable on any platform.
I’m assuming this will be true as long as it doesn’t violate Blackboard’s patent on everything having to do with a Learning Management System. (Psst! Ever notice how there’s been virtually NO growth in the LMS sector since Blackboard was granted a patent for the LMS?)
Google should buy Blackboard and take the following actions:
Move gBlackboard as quickly as the market will bear to an all cloud-based, multi-tenancy delivery system. This will drastically reduce implementation costs, allowing the price of the software to drop quickly.
Deeply integrate gBlackboard with Google Apps for Education, gDrive (Google Storage), and the content available on YouTube/EDU.
Follow a plan to bring the licensing fee for public institutions to gBlackboard down to zero.
A no-cost high quality LMS, integrated with the educational content and collaboration tools developing under the Google umbrella, could significantly lower the costs for postsecondary education in the wealthy world — and extend educational opportunities to the rest of the planet. Google would give educational platforms away for free for the same reason it gives gMail and Google Docs away. Free is the best method to aggregate huge audiences, gather data on their behaviors, and deliver relevant advertising.
OOOOH, and I was with him RIGHT until the last part about advertising. Because nothing says learning experience like Cialis text ads?
Do you ever hear the word “Blackboard” and envision the Death Star approaching?
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.