Friday, October 14, 2011

Pearson+Google vs Blackboard = An Interesting LMS Frontier

After a two year reprieve, I begun teaching with Blackboard again in August.  In '09 I was using Blackboard 8.0 and now I'm teaching with Blackboard 9.1.  Yes, some things have changed but, in essence, all the frustration and rigidity that restricts my ability to employ pedagogical creativity within Blackboard remains.  And, to me, the more I teach with Blackboard, the better hacker I become.    That's not right and the rigidity and bugginess of Blackboard is, undoubtedly, frustrating faculty and making creative teachers give up on experimentation which is not a good thing in the context of 21st century teaching and learning.  Can anyone out there relate to that feeling?

So, this morning when I read the news about Pearson (which has been funding Ning Minis for educators in North America for more than a year now, including two I use for professional development and community college teaching) and Google joining forces to launch a new, free, social learning management system called OpenClass, I was intrigued.  Still in beta, the description sounds intriguing.  What I'm foreseeing is an opportunity for OpenClass to engage faculty who are experimental, early adopters, attempting to force Blackboard to "accept" and "tolerate" Google Apps, VoiceThread, Twitter widgets, and other web 2.0 and social media infusions into its system -- with not a whole lot of success.  But institutions will shake their head and remain skeptical about supporting OpenClass, especially the institutions that have adopted Blackboard across systems.

This could be a turning point.  One that will truly separate those committed to a "learning" paradigm and those invested, still, in an outdated "teaching" paradigm (Barr and Tagg, 1995 - PDF).  While I have yet to even see OpenClass, I am sensing that the future of college learning just got a lot more interesting. 

Which path are you on?


Bio-prof said...

I personally like Bb, especially how they started responding to instructors' needs and desires. It has its clunkiness sometimes, but I manage to have my Twitter feeds and other open source tools in it (even embedded Google forms). It has good support both directly and through the colleges. It may be too closed for real trailblazers though...I don't know. Have you checked CourseSites? They have all their beta features there, and you can test them for free.
As for Pearson, it is a publishing giant. So I am not sure how free and open the whole thing is going to be at the end of the day.
Bottom line: waiting to see :)

Unknown said...

Ana, what version are you using? And when can you come tutor me? :)

I think the publishers who are serious about surviving our transformed social landscape of authorship and self-publishing will embrace openness. I've been intrigued by Pearson for awhile and think they're doing some smart things.

Hey, is this the first time we've disagreed on something? :)