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…
Software patents animation
Nice animation explaining software patents at YouTube.
Is WebCT the best case against Blackboard
I’m not sure I’ve fully thought this through, and it comes with all the usual caveats about legal ignorance, but here goes…. Could, ironically, WebCT be used as a defence against the Blackboard patent? When Blackboard acquired (or merged with) WebCT they gained a lot of WebCT staff. When they were different companies, their products didn’t differ much, and if WebCT was still a separate entity it would be as subject to a law suit as Desire2Learn. So, if I were the Desire2Learn lawyers I would be asking some of the WebCT staff who moved over to Blackboard to testify. For instance, Chris Vento the chief technical officer at WebCT…
Blackboard – a dangerous friend
Continuing on the Blackboard patent front… I have to say it strikes me as a commercially dumb move. I’ve had dealings with people at Blackboard and WebCT and always found them to be a smart bunch. They have often pitched the idea that they are partners. The patent is such an antagonistic act however, that any such notion of being a strategic partner must seem dubious. If I worked at an institution that ran one of their products and it was coming up for review, the patent would be a major factor in going elsewhere, for a number of reasons: It might prevent any additions or innovation I wanted to…
Succession and _that_ Blackboard patent
I’ve been watching the Blackboard patent debate with interest. Initially I felt it might be one of those things that people panic about, but doesn’t turn out to be the higher education apocalypse everyone predicted. While this may still turn out to be the case, it is undoubtedly serious. Michael Feldstein has blogged extensively about it and provides a good translation of the patent, which makes it even scarier. Some of these (e.g. An instructor can create and edit pages in a course space) seem so general as to be ludicrous, like patenting the concept of a wheel (and indeed being excessively general is one area where the patent may…
The seedy underbelly of ponyworld
My four year old daughter is very keen on horseriding (what is it with girls and horses?), so I have been dutifully taking her along every weekend to our local riding school. Now previously I had thought this was all rather sweet, but a bit dull. The story of doping at a children’s show-jumping event though has given me a renewed interest. Who would have thought that such rich thriller material could be found at a gymkhana? I await the release of the new My Little Pony, Sedata, who falls over repeatedly and listens to Hendrix…
Pretexting and the death of the HP way
Well the HP way has been near death for a long while, but surely the current crisis at HP spells its demise. In 2002 The Palo Alto weekly was forecasting its end. This quote from that article particularly highlights the difference between the initial culture fostered by Hewlett and Packard and the current debacle: "When former employees reminisce about the HP Way, they toss around words like "integrity," "trust," and "team." Hmm, there doesn’t seem to have been an abundance of trust and integrity in this case. The OU has just received a grant from the Hewlett Foundation (not related to HP, set up by William and Flora Hewlett separately)…
Surely too stupid to be true?
This from the Register – Stingrays attacked in revenge for Steve Irwin’s death. Surely no-one is that stupid are they? It’s rather like melting ice in revenge for the Titanic. That’ll teach ’em.
Open source models in education
I seem to have inherited an EU project… The OU is a partner in FLOSScom – the idea of which is to look at open source communities and see how (or if) the principles can be applied in education, ie to what extent they can act as a model of an e-learning community. This is in my area of interest so I’m going to be the project lead for the OU. Although I think there are lots of interesting things about the open course community which have parallels in education (for instance the exchange of ideas, status established by reputation, etc) what I think is just as interesting is where…
The children are back in school (in their expensive new uniforms in my case), the holidays are over, back to work… First up was a conference call with the D4LD team at the OUNL and Liverpool Hope. Over the summer we have mainly been concentrating on looking at some of the performance issues of Coppercore and SLeD. It seems the iTunesesque (I know, I know, let it be Martin) response times we were experiencing have been replicated by the OUNL team when they have duplicated our set up. The likely suspect was optimisation of the HSQL database. By fixing this and some minor code tweaks and an improvement to the…