Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Those Darn Typos

D2L created some new buttons for giveaways at Educause. Sadly, the button company appears to have made a typo on one of them. Can you spot it?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Blackboard Sends in the Spies

This story is almost too much to believe. I guess that is why the blog post at the D2L patent site has a title of: "Grab yourself a cup of coffee and get comfortable - we have a story for you!"

Many of us who attended D2L's 2008 User Conference (FUSION) in Memphis were distracted by the court proceedings that were occurring simultaneously in Texas. This was the proceeding where the court found that D2L version 8.3 does NOT infringe on Blackboard's bogus patent. From the blog entry:

"Blackboard convinced the Court that it should be permitted to have a representative at FUSION, Dr. Mark Jones (who served as Blackboard's expert witness) and the Court agreed. Counsel for Blackboard further requested:

  • We would ask the court and ask D2L not to disclose that Dr. Jones is an expert for Blackboard or is connected with Blackboard at the conference. The court, I'm sure from its past statements, has read some of the blogs and some of the Internet traffic on this. And we don't think Dr. Jones should be subjected to some of the users who might think -- have certain opinions about in this case, and they may take it out on Dr. Jones.
  • So, we would ask that Desire2Learn not only protect the connection that Dr. Jones has with Blackboard but also not disclose to the users that there is a Blackboard consultant at the conference.
Blackboard asked the Court to order that we tell no Desire2Learn client that Dr. Jones would be at FUSION. The Court granted Blackboard's request, and we made sure that we complied with the Court's Order."

The story goes on to tell how Jones was allowed to roam around FUSION under a cloak of darkness. I think it is very funny that Blackboard would make such a request in the first place, and I also think that it is amazingly sad the court would grant such a request and even determine the terms of the visit. Sounds more like something that Judge Judy would do, not a real judge in a real court. But alas, that is exactly what happened.

As a result of this, Blackbeard returned to the court and said that they had uncovered new evidence at FUSION that was pertinent to the trial. The court agreed and decided that "Blackboard may depose one representative from Ohio State University and one representative from Marquette University about the performance of step (a) of claim 36. The court denies all other discovery requests." (BTW, people from TOSU get very upset when you don't refer to them as THE Ohio State University. Come on judge, don't you watch college football?).

These depositions will be used to determine whether these self-hosted D2L customers create a liability for D2l. "Both customers Blackboard identified host servers on-site, within the United States, that run Desire2Learn’s software. Deposing representatives from Ohio State and Marquette will allow Blackboard sufficient opportunity to demonstrate whether Desire2Learn is installed in the United States and step (a) of claim 36 is satisfied."

Just for the record, I don't really believe that Judge Clark is the equivalent of Judge Judy. I also don't find it funny that Blackboard would make such a request, because that is exactly the type of corporate mentality that we are dealing with here. As for the bloggers who might have taken "it out on Dr. Jones," - gee, who were you referring to? Apparently there is a faction of us higher ed bloggers who have violent tendencies. All I can say to that is:

CC Flickr Photo by .:Mat:.

Friday, October 24, 2008

D2L FUSION Coming to St. Paul

D2L Users Conference at St. Paul RiverCentre in July 2009

This from MnSCU CIO Ken Niemi: "St. Paul’s RiverCentre will be the site of the 2009 D2L Users Conference. MnSCU will co-host the event with Desire2Learn. The event kicks off on Sunday evening, July 12. The main conference will be July 13-15, with post-conference sessions July 16-17. This is a great opportunity for MnSCU faculty, administrators and technical staff to attend an international conference within driving distance.

The 2008 conference was held in Memphis, Tennessee, where an all-day Executive Session was offered for the first time. Given the success of that session, it will be offered again at the 2009 conference in St. Paul. The session will be geared toward an audience of high level planners and administrators, including CAOs, CIOs, presidents, and other executives involved in planning and administering enterprise system technology and learning management systems.

We look forward to co-hosting this event in St. Paul, and we anticipate high numbers of participants from all MnSCU institutions. The conference will include a variety of tracks geared towards teaching and learning, training and support, technical administration, and program management. Stay tuned for more information about the conference in the coming months." (eom)

I'm not modest enough not to mention that the main reason they want to come back to Minnesota is because the conference was such a success when it was held here in Duluth. There may be other reasons, but that has to be #1.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Old News about D2L vs. Blackboard

I'm just passing along the following questions and answers from the D2L Patent Blog.

Q. Does Learning Environment 8.3 infringe Blackboard's Patent?

A. No.

Q. Didn't Blackboard try to get the court to say LE 8.3 infringed?

A. Yes, but the court ruled against Blackboard.

Q. Why did the court rule against Blackboard?

A. Because the court found (1) that the design of the system was in Canada; (2) that the steps of the method patent were not performed in the US for clients who were hosted on Desire2Learn servers in Canada; and (3) that the installation step of the method patent was not performed in the US for clients that are self hosted in the US.

Q. Does that mean Desire2Learn is a safe choice?

A. Yes. The safest choice, in fact. Only Desire2Learn performs steps of the patent outside of the United States. No other Blackboard competitor that we know of can say that.

Q. Does the patent affect any non-US clients?

A. No, not now, not ever.

Q. What about the appeal?

A. It's proceeding. Of course, we've already paid the judgment and are hopeful that with a successful appeal that money will be returned (with interest).

Q. What about the Patent & Trademark Office?

A. The non-final rejection of all 44 claims still stands, and we're awaiting a final rejection. Blackboard keeps trying to suspend that proceeding, for obvious reasons.

End of Desire2Learn blog post. Now for my comment:

In other words, no news is no news. Carry on.
BTW, Blackboard still sucks.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Teaching with Technology Conference

This is a free conference. Friday, November 7, 2008 at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Some of the e-learning sessions listed in the program include:

  • Care to Moodle? Description: Overview and demonstration of the open source online course platform, Moodle.
  • Matching Practice to Outcome. Description: An Examination of Online Teaching from Multiple Perspectives-- students, interns and professor. Presentation of information from a research project that systematically examined the practice of online teaching to discover what works, what is challenging and the relationship between practices and outcomes.
  • My Online Course Speaks to Every Student--Does Yours? Description: Discussion of accessibility issues surrounding D2L (and/or other learning management systems). Part 1-Becoming aware of the various barriers to learning for many students in courses delivered with D2L and developing awareness of work arounds to these barriers. Part 2-Tips and tools for developing accessible curriculum materials.
  • Online Tools for Active Learning. Description: Demonstration and panel discussion of discussion in bulletin board postings vs. chats, setting up online peer review groups to discuss drafts in writing intensive courses, using wikis with second language learners, and the use of Adobe Connect and SitePal in an online, simulation-based course.
  • Online vs. Hybrid. Description: Discussion of observations of differences in course design, implementation and management between online and hybrid courses with first year students; and factors to consider when deciding to offer hybrid or online course delivery. Self-check questions included for those considering offering hybrid or online formats (particularly in undergraduate courses).
Register here. The first 200 registrants get a free lunch.