Blackboard – a personal boycott

At the risk of being something of a dog with a bone over this, yesterday I surprised myself – I have some research money to spend and was going to attend a conference. I thought of going to online educa in Berlin. I’ve  been before, it’s an excellent conference, and very good for networking with the European e-learning people. But I noticed that Blackboard was one of the sponsors. My personal view is that the Blackboard patent is anti-competitive, stifles innovation and goes against all that higher education holds dear. So I couldn’t, with a clear conscience, go to a conference that was sponsored by them, and by implication endorsed their actions. So, I decided against going, and have sent the conference organisers a message to this effect. In the same way that writers boycotted the Hay Festival when Nestle were sponsors, this seems to me a reasonable response to take.

I had no intention of boycotting the event, and that is what surprised me – when I saw the BB logo on the side, my immediate reaction was one of discomfort. I think it demonstrated to myself the strength of feeling I had about the whole patent thing. Instead I may spend that research money going to the LAMS conference (okay, I confess, being in Sydney is an attraction too).

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