Blackborg acquires Dark Angel

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The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last week on Blackboard’s acquisition of Angel. The article’s title: Blackboard Buys Another Rival, to Customers’ Dismay, says it all really. We’re not to worry, however, because Blackboard’s president and chief executive, Michael L. Chasen, said the company had learned from the WebCT acquisition and promised that this time it will be different. Unfortunately, Mr Chasen just doesn’t get it. He and his company continue to misread the zeitgeist, and if ever a business deserves to fall victim to disruptive innovation, it is this one.

Blackboard is widely regarded as the Leviathan of the learning management system (LMS) world, and it is a platform that has come to dominate online delivery of education, particularly in the higher education sphere. Aside from its poor reputation for customer service, this cumbersome monolith does not have the capacity to keep up with the pace of change. The science of online learning continues to evolve at a rapid pace, and as a proprietary, high-cost, and relatively inflexible system, Blackboard can only innovate at the speed of its next service pack. Meanwhile, the open source movement incorporates pedagogical innovation on the run. The end result is that Blackboard is simply ‘uncool’, and it will remain so, long as it continues to tell educators and learners what they can have, rather than give them what they want.

All this will be welcome news for the likes of Moodle, Sakai and Ning, and the smaller proprietary systems that are nimble and versatile enough to ride the social networking wave, and provide the kind of learning environment for students and faculty where they feel they have creative licence and a sense of ownership.

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Posted in Academic literature, Creativity, Online learning, Social networking
3 comments on “Blackborg acquires Dark Angel
  1. Joanne Jacobs says:

    The only problem is the large number of universities who ‘lock in’ to Blackboard instead of enabling the use of products such as West Australian-made Moodle. It may well be necessary to mobilise a rescue package for those institutions who seem unable to get off the Blackboard roundabout, and get on to something that is not just low-cost, but also eminently flexible for the needs of learners.

  2. jeremy says:

    Fair point JJ, but as it becomes easier to use social networking apps for teaching and learning, faculty can simply bypass the ordained system or, at the very least, minimise their use of it. Ning is a case in point, I think, and with a bit of critical mass, the university power brokers will simply do their sums and ask why they are shelling out so much cash for a system noone wants to use.

  3. Budy says:

    I like the picture, cool …

    I think the LMS has evolved to become a dinosaur. LMS is more like ERP-kind of software: heavy, inflexible, and expensive to acquire, customize (I think you know a lot of horror stories here) and maintain.

    So, do we need LMS (or BlackBoard) now?

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