Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Eavesdropping on D2L10

Even though I'm happy with my decision to not attend the D2L User Conference this year, that doesn't mean that I wasn't interested in the goings on, nor did it mean that I didn't miss the many friends who were in attendance. I followed the Twitter stream from the conference in an effort to stay somewhat in the know. Here's a chronological listing of selected tweets.

Desire2Learn_PR: Boat cruises, great food, connecting with colleagues… FUSION 2010 is off to a fabulous start! http://bit.ly/17POaR (expand) #D2L10

ajwms: At #d2l10. Last time to see @140universityElluminate as sponsor, I guesshttp://twitpic.com/24h5u9

tabrown: Lots of fun catching up with folks at the #unD2L conference this evening#D2L10

ConnectYard: launching our new learning tool today for #d2l that integrates FB, TW & TM into courses. Stop by our booth at #d2l10 for more details!

ajwms: Has anybody been able to get their iPad connected to hotel wireless at#D2L10 yet? Get a blank login screen only.

kylemackie: 326 new D2L users at #D2L10

krivedal: And none of them were lawyers! RT @kylemackie: D2L has hired 60 new employees this year. #D2L10

barrydahl: RT @ajwms: @condonfnm on stage (in a coat and tie!) to present the first Desire2Excel award at #d2l10 - He does clean up well.

ajwms: SHARE Project (Support, Harnessing & Advancing Repository Enhancement) - Nottingham Trent accepting Desire2Excel Collaboration award#d2l10

Goamick: RT @kylemackie: Keynote: Stuart Brown MD, The National Institute for Play www.nifplay.org #D2L10

barrydahl: RT @katblue14: How do u put on ur playface in an online class?#D2L10 This speaker better have the answer for this one, or why is he there?

dariusz: Listening to Stuart Brown explain why playing around is super importanthttp://www.desire2learn.com/Fusion/keynotes/ #designd2l #d2l10

kylemackie: the opposite of play is not "work", it's depression. #D2L10

ben_ggg: Instruction Design - If you graduate with our degree without learning technology, shame on us. #D2L10

katblue14: Reminder to faculty that a PDF of a scanned doc is a picture and a screen reader can't read it, use OCR. ADA session (faboo session!) #D2L10

ben_ggg: Students DON'T want to visit course related websites, read postings online or participate in online discussions. #d2l10

ajwms: RT @barrydahl: Hey #D2L10 has @ajwms told u about Peillissippi State Ed Tech Svcs. on Facebk? http://bit.ly/a3qtzf (expand) /help us get 2 100 likes!

jcthomsonjr: RT @barrydahl: @kfrisch Maybe the Blackberry should go to a student since almost NONE of our students have Blackberries. How about Android/Apple? #D2L10

atblue14: Kaltura gets it! Same media piece mixed easily into versions for multiple delivery points. Let students control engagement point. #D2L10

kylemackie: Desire2Learn 2Go improvements: delivery of content, schedule meetings, AND they say they're bringing it to iphone and android soon. #D2L10

tjoosten: #d2l mobile will allow you to take video or picts on #droid or others and *share* to #d2l like you share with facebook, picaso, etc. #d2l10 (coming "soon")

w_mcelroy: Some fun web 2.0 tools I want to play with now (ediscio, animoto, glogster....)I can see instructors using these.... #D2L10

ajwms: #designd2l add ability to lock down parts of navbar to protect sections from editing. Please? #d2l10

kylemackie: want to talk community? come to the session @corykittel and I are leading, today at 2:15 (room 6-Illinois) #D2L10

barrydahl: @kylemackie Include this tidbit: developing online community is 36th most important thing to online students at LSC. Out of 36 items. #D2L10

kfrisch: Julie Evans Key note speaker at lunch The New " Free Agent Learner"-Are You Ready? FUSION 2010 http://bit.ly/aqarRN (expand) #D2L10 #osnss10

ajwms: Evans: 55% of students want reminders and alerts sent to mobile device. Glad we are sharing textblaster with faculty this fall #D2L10

rjasonthompson: #D2L10 "Understanding Pedagogy and Instructional Design when moving courses on line" - James Falkofske: www.pedagogyonline.com

tjoosten: Our preso is avail athttp://professorjoosten.blogspot.com/2010/07/student-perceptions-of-desire2learn.html #d2l10 @uwmltc #eportfolio #uwm

duncwhite: Using Soundpaper on the iPad to capture Fusion2010 notes. Patchwork is also a good app to try - will use with teachers this fall. #d2l10

krivedal: #D2L10 National American University has students sign a Self- Directed Learner's Statement

katblue14: #D2L10 the integration of Live Mail w D2L is looking sharp:) This may solve an issue!

jbohreruw: Sweet! RT: @kylemackie: Desire2Excel award, III goes to...learn@ UW.#D2L10 @LearnUWMad

Goamick: Joel Cohen Writer and Co-Executive Producer of The Simpsons talking about engaging an audience #d2l10 this is excellent!

kylemackie: sometimes not using a great idea is a great idea #D2L10

kfrisch: You can get energized by a joke. Goes back to the theme we've heard all conference--play! #d2l10 #osnss10

_dmlong: John Baker: FUSION 2011 will be at Denver! #D2L10 #D2L11

Friday, July 09, 2010

No Show at D2L User Conference

I've been asked by quite a few people (seriously I have, approaching double digits) why I am NOT attending FUSION, the D2L User Conference that starts in a few days. I will very much miss hanging out with everyone at the Unconference Sunday night - in fact, I almost chose to attend this event without attending the rest of the conference, but decided against it. (CC photo by David Paul Ohmer)

A conference in July is never easy because there's just too much summer stuff, family-time, and all that jazz going on. But that's not the reason. We have severe budget cuts that are restricting our travel to these types of events. But that's not the reason.

Without further ado, here is my Top Five List for reasons why I will not be attending the conference this year:

Number 5: Location (actually this is a very distant fifth place)
  • I hate attending conferences in Chicago. Getting from the airport to downtown is as bad as flying into Denver.
  • Once I went out in Chicago with three friends for pizza and beers. Between the four of us we had one pizza and 6 beers. Our "guest check" was $120 before tip. This is the Midwest people - there's nothing special going on here at all. Get over yourselves.
Number 4: Screwups
  • I don't need to go into details here, let's just say that my days of being on the planning committee came to an end when some things were handled very poorly. Certain people will know what I'm talking about. Nuff said.
Number 3: Transparency
  • For three years (or whatever) during the Blackborg fight, all I heard from D2L was how "transparent" they were being with their clients - keeping the clients (and anyone else who might be interested) as informed as possible about how they were fighting the good fight for higher education in particular and against software patent bullies in general.
  • You lose all credibility (with me at least) when you then shut off all information and become as opaque as possible when the end game is reached.
  • Okay, I understand that you negotiated the silence during the end game as part of the settlement with the Evil Empire of BlackAngel, and that this particular item probably came at the insistence of Blackbeard, BUT STILL - this should have been a deal breaker. Don't tell me that you're transparent and all that crap and then just roll over and say "psych!"
Number 2: Deletion
  • The Desire2Learn website previously had a "Patent Info Blog" located at the URL that now contains just a single letter from CEO John Baker explaining (okay, not really) the settlement with BlackBart. In it he says "Consistent with our mission and vision, it's time for us to put the past behind us, and look to the future. As a result, we'll be taking down our patent blog tomorrow."
  • This patent blog had all the documentation, all the D2L assurances, all the maneuvers and counter-maneuvers that had occurred since the beginning of the litigation. It was an important resource. It was linked to by hundreds of people for many different reasons.
  • Of course Bb would have never posted all this information in the first place. By removing the information, the end result is that D2L looks just like Bb. Close-lipped and close-minded.
  • BTW. Thanks for the heads up in advance of deleting the blog. I hate to kill trees, but I went ahead and printed well over 100 pages of info from the blog site. I finished printing about 15 minutes before it started to disappear. Someday this will make for good bedtime reading.
Number 1: Desire2Quit?
  • Seriously? Laying down with the enemy? All the rhetoric over the years was just bullshit? "We're in it to win it?" The long chat we had last year at FUSION in St. Paul about how important it was to fight the good fight and how victory was within grasp - that was all a load of bull?
  • When you lay down with BlackVader, you become BlackVader.
So here's a list of questions that should be answered at FUSION 2010:
  • 1) Now that you are licensing the portfolio of Blackboard patents, in what ways have those patents impacted the newest version (9) of the Desire2Learn LE or other products?
  • 2) In what ways will those patents impact future versions of the Desire2Learn LE or other products?
  • 3) By licensing their patent portfolio, aren't you giving credence to the validity of the Alcorn patent (the subject of the litigation)? And if not, then what patents do they have that you do find valuable?
  • 4) Is there an end date on your cross-licensing agreement? If so, when? Either way, are new patents included automatically in the licensing agreement, or not?
  • 5) Did you ever get your 3.1 million dollar judgement back from BlackChasenSmall, or did that possibility go away in the middle of the night when the litigation ceased?
  • 6) What is the status of the Alcorn patent in the USPTO, or is this something you no longer care about?
Okay, so as you can see, I'm avoiding FUSION this year because pizza and beer in Chicago are just too expensive.

A few final points of clarification:
  • 1) I still think D2L is by far the best choice for a vendor-based LMS.
  • 2) I consider many of the employees to be friends, not because they work for D2L, but because they are engaging, smart, and good people. All at the same time.
  • 3) I hope the conference is a smashing success. I am not attempting to send any ill-will their way, but I am willing to boycott something when I feel strongly enough about it. This is one of those times.
  • 4) I haven't decided whether I will feel differently in 2011. Lots can happen between now and then (and probably will).

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Blackborg Rides Again

Blackboard went on another buying spree today. Just a few random thoughts.
  • If Blackboard had purchased either Wimba or Elluminate, they could have spun it as a strategic business decision. By purchasing both of them, the only possible explanation is that it is another example of squelching innovation and limiting competition.
  • In Ray Henderson's blog post, he refers to both companies as "former rivals." Although it's true that Blackborg has some sort of a lame virtual classroom, synchronous tool (I believe they call it the Bb POS), very few people who work in educational technology would have seen Wimba as a rival of Blackboard. Or Elluminate. Hell, we barely see D2L or Moodle as rivals of Blackboard.
  • Maybe when you are the most hated company in the education sandbox, everyone seems like a rival to you.
  • Ray also says "We hear consistently from our clients that their online infrastructure and offerings have grown from important to mission critical." Apparently they stop listening when those clients follow that up with "However, the last thing we want is to have total vendor lock-in where we are completely dependent upon you and at your mercy (of which you have none)."
  • My favorite tweet of the day went something like this: "Blackboard Collaborate sounds so much nicer than Blackboard Conglomerate, Blackboard Cartel, or Blackboard Cabal"
  • It seems to me that buying Wimba would have been sufficient since it is more fully developed than Elluminate. However, by purchasing Elluminate they have effectively upset the partnership arrangements that Elluminate has with Desire2Learn eCollege, RemoteLearner (Moodle), and Unicon (Sakai). If you believe that Blackboard will really continue to "sustain this work and the partnerships," then you just haven't been paying attention.
To all the Bb lovers out there (you know who you are), I have one question:

Will you still be Blackboard lovers when they purchase Apollo (UofPhx), Kaplan, Capella, and others to complete their vertical integration into the education space?