• e-learning,  patents,  VLE

    Succession and the art of stretching a metaphor

    As Scott has blogged, he came to visit us in Cardiff recently, while staying at the OU for a month on a fellowship. We had a lot of great chats, and while I failed to convince him of the ways of atheist, reductionist rationalism, I did manage to convert him to my succession metaphor for technology adoption. I used this in my VLE book a while back, and it goes something like this (from the book): When there is a new environment, for example barren rock, a few pioneer species, such as lichens begin to grow. The acid from these decomposes some rock particles, and their own death creates a…

  • patents,  VLE

    Run me through the Blackboard business model again

    So Blackboard has won the initial ruling in Texas, with Desire2Learn ordered to pay $3.1 million compensation. Obviously a stupid and dangerous ruling, but as the excellent Michael Feldstein points out, who’s made money out of it anyway? It strikes me there are three ways to be the market leader in an industry: i) Have such cool products it doesn’t matter how you behave (cf. Apple) ii) Have an average product and bully everyone else out of the market so the customer has no choice (cf. Microsoft) iii) Work with your customers to develop your product and get good will (cf. nearly every other tech company). I don’t have an…

  • patents,  VLE

    BB patent reexamination – all good news?

    As you’ll probably have seen elsewhere, the Blackboard patent is being re-examined, the prior art raising serious concerns (never!). While this has generally met as a welcome development (it would be more worrying if it wasn’t being reexamined), a cynical part of me thinks that it may not be the victory it seems. These reexaminations can take two years, during which time the patent hangs in limbo. Perhaps this was BB’s intention all the time – it isn’t about actually getting the patent, it is a means of undermining competitors while making yourself look dominant. If you were an institution choosing a VLE now, the threat of the patent might…

  • patents,  VLE,  web 2.0

    What BB’s patent really tells you about them

    I gave the keynote at the BB users’ conference yesterday in Durham. As I have blogged before I had some reservations about this. I think it was worthwhile though – I talked about web 2.0 and some of the usual VLE topics I have covered (succession, metaphors, future directions, etc). From a BB audience perspective the key slide was one that focused on the patent where I played the YouTube movie on software patents, gave some of Michael Feldstein’s interpretations of the patent, and linked it back to the succession model. The Blackboard company representatives in the audience looked a little unhappy with this, although slightly battle weary too –…

  • e-learning,  patents

    I patent it

    Scott Wilson points to another ludicrous patent – this time someone’s trying to do a landgrab on community based learning. The fact that it is laughable is what’s so worrying – being blatantly stupid is no guarantee against something being accepted. I want to get these potential patents in now, so if anyone does try and patent them I can claim prior exposure: Gaming – any computer based system where the user manipulates a virtual character through a simulated world, according to rules determined by the system. The world is divided into different stages of levels which the user must demonstrate increased proficiency to gain access to. The user gains…