Blackboard inc have released some video presentations about their Project NG (Next Generation) this is the hybred product that includes the final best of breed integration of WebCT and Blackboard into a single product. The presentation is not yet complete and more will be released as it becomes available. Nor is there as yet any formal release date – though at the BBWorld Europe confernence in Manchester Michael Chasen CEO suggested that it would in fact be version 10 sometime around end of 2009 early 2010 with some of the changes hitting version 9 early in 2009.
If you can bear the american hype as the presenter gets “really excited…” about every feature, it is worth a look as it illustrates the new drag and drop structure along with the context sensitive menus for course editing. You can view the presentation here it is an improvement on
The last sentence of the blog seems to have been truncated so I’m intigued to know what it’s an “improvement on….”.
That said though, the tools presented in the videos are interesting, and dare I say overdue! However, Blackboard still represents “openness” as a one way traffic into Blackboard.
Blackboard has good features for the institutional management and coordination of teaching, but is not necessarily the best platform for producing content. The approach seems to be “that’s a good idea” let’s build it in to Blackboard rather than “that’s a good idea, let’s make that easy to get to that content from within blackboard”.
Even their links to third party VLEs look a little sinister: “You want to use Moodle, sure you can use Moodle if you do it inside a Blackboard tab!”
The beauty of Web 2.0 is that it’s an agile technology made up of “small pieces loosely joined” that are easy to bring together and exploit for rich learning experiences. By trying to build the things that teachers have discovered into Blackboard, it just get larger, more monolithic and more tangled with every release.
Blackboard has clearly taken on the “Embrace, Extend and Innovate” strategy formulated inside of Microsoft when it discovered the Internet in 1994. That word “innovate” quickly came to take on the flavour of “destroy“. I hope Blackboard is not innovating itself into the Microsoft of the VLE platform!
I don’t want to be Borg!