The Point in Education is to Collaborate and Learn, Not Just Buy Everyone

The Borg has struck again: this time Elluminate and Wimba are being assimilated. I can’t say that this makes me sad for either of those two companies. I have long held the position that synchronous tools destroys the killer aspect of online learning – it removes the ANY from “any time, any where learning.”  But I can’t say I see this as a positive for the overall education community.

This article on Inside Higher Ed examines some of the problems this acquisition makes: specifically, what does this mean for Blackboard competitors that are licensing either products? Considering Blackboard’s history of suing competitors that they think are encroaching on their territory – I am guessing that doesn’t mean very good things.  Blackboard is saying that they want to sustain those relationships – but who really believes that? No one that has kept up with Blackboard’s dismal record on doing that with past assimilations.

Even worse is Blackboard’s ability to integrate purchased products into their existing software.  Blackboard 9.1 is mess of mish-mashed concepts held together with a rather questionable string of logic.  Even their own trainers make fun of how little sense many things make in the control panel.

And this has all been mostly with integrating one LMS with another. Elluminate and Wimba are entirely different categories of tools than what they have been dealing with so far. How big of a mess is that going to be?

At one time I though monopolies were illegal in this country. Guess I just dreamed that chapter of poli-sci.  Even if legal, they are still bad ideas and even worse for a field like educational technology that needs innovation right now rather than one company that controls everything.

It is like the ancient educators created different tools to accomplish different aspects of learning, but in the secret Sauron created one master ring to eventually enslave them all:

One LMS to rule them all,
One LMS to find them,
One LMS to buy them all
and in the ‘borg bind them.

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

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