Monday, March 30, 2009

Is Blackboard Losing Clients?

There's lots of speculation about how much ill-will has been created in the education community by Blackboard's predatory business practices, but not much hard data either way. The real question is how many former Blackboard/WebCT clients have left the flock since the merger (acquisition?) of the two giants that was first announced on October 12, 2005.

Now it's 3.5 years later. I thought it would be interesting to try to compile a list of schools/consortia/orgs that have switched away from either Blackboard or WebCT to any of the other alternatives, or vice versa. To that end, I've thrown together a simple wiki where anyone can enter information about changes they've made to their IMS/VLE adoptions during that time frame.

Besides the home page, there are three additional pages on this wiki:

In addition, there is a discussion forum for those who are so inclined.

For those who have missed it, on March 26, 2009, Desire2Learn announced their Million $ Mission in a letter from D2L CEO John Baker to Blackboard CEO Michael Chasen. That same day a Facebook fan page was also created to show support for this offer as a resolution to the ongoing patent battle between the two companies.

Please share this widely. Let's try to get lots of entries on this wiki. (Of course, Blackboard could help us out by publishing a list of new clients added and clients lost, but I'm quite certain that will never happen.)

I saw two things during the past couple of days that made me decide to try to gather this info.
  • First, I was intrigued by the listing of the IMS choices of the 64 teams in the NCAA basketball tourney. Those schools seem to be a pretty good cross-section of larger universities in the U.S. The only IMS that appears to be under-represented in the field is Angel (only 1 school). Otherwise, the scoreboard says Blackboard = 49 (77% of the 64 schools), Desire2Learn = 9 (14%), Sakai = 2 (3%), and Moodle = 2 (3%).
  • Second, Leonard Low of Australia left a comment on the previous post (Blackboard's Last Chance) stating that "The disapproval of Blackboard's conduct over the last few years has been so strong that 100% of the tertiary institutions in my city (5 of them) - all of which once used WebCT - have now already migrated, or are in the process of migrating to, other platforms. They could have kept us all if they'd conducted themselves with a modicum of integrity." How common is that point-of-view? I hope we find out.


Jared M. Stein said...

Barry, I would look into the Bb quarterly stockholder reports, which are supposed to be an accurate picture of activity, including lost and new clients.

Of course, one may question the trustworthiness of such reports, but they are official corporate records, and I would doubt Bb would risk the penalties of hiding the true figures.

I scanned, I believe, the Q4 2008 report, and it suggested that there was still an increase in school adoption (new vs lost) but it was small; Chasen seemed instead convinced that the best approach in this economy was to focus on the larger schools, retaining and providing new services.

Andrew Reil said...

In the wiki entitled "Those who have left Blackboard/WebCT during the past 3.5 years" there's a field "Approx Date of Change from Blackboard or WebCT". Many institutions have made it clear that they're migrating from CE. Others only put the date.

I think that migrating from CE (Web CT) must be the majority because they don't have as much to lose. I would be interested in how many "classic" Blackboard using institutions are migrating away. I doubt it's very many.

CloudSource said...

Another interesting trend is the reduction of the large clunky enterprise LMS systems like Blackboard and the emergence of several low cost and lightweight LMS/VLE systems such as CourseDirector available through the Google Apps Marketplace.

CloudSource said...

Another interesting trend is the reduction of the large clunky enterprise LMS systems like Blackboard and the emergence of several low cost and lightweight LMS/VLE systems available through the Google Apps Marketplace.