Monday, May 23, 2011

Is Blackbeard Sinking?

The current (5/18/2011) Wikipedia entry for Blackbeard (aka Edward Teach) is most excellent. It states:

"A shrewd and calculating leader, (Blackbeard) Teach avoided the use of force, relying instead on his fearsome image to elicit the response he desired from those he robbed. Contrary to the modern-day picture of the traditional tyrannical pirate, he commanded his vessels with the permission of their crews and there are no known accounts of his ever having harmed or murdered those he held captive."

With just a few slips of the fingers on the keyboard, it could easily be:

"A shrewd and calculating vendor, (Blackboard) Learn avoided the use of force, relying instead on its fearsome image to elicit the response they desired from those they robbed. Contrary to the modern-day picture of the traditional tyrannical pirate, they commanded their clients with the permission of their crews and there are no known accounts of ever having harmed or murdered those they held captive."

The funny part is that their captives keep escaping from the Blackboard stockade. Even though they're locked in for a while, sooner or later there is a small hole in the wall where the captives can get a glimpse of freedom - and then the vast majority of them flee as if their lives depended upon it. At least that's the way it appears to me.

Of course I can't prove anything (and chances are, neither can they), but I'm of the opinion that the recent Blackboard "news" about potential suitors interested in buying them out is nothing more than a fabrication. It certainly was a profitable fabrication (okay, possible fabrication) since the stock price got the intended bounce after the "news" got published, discussed, and digested.

You do have to ask yourself who would be interested in buying this pirate ship. It certainly seems to be sinking. At least the lead ship of the fleet (the LMS) is taking on water at an alarming rate. The other ships in the arsenal might be staying high and dry - including Transact (card transactions) and Connect (emergency notification), and maybe they are attracting potential suitors.

So what's up with the Bb LMS? Well, many of the old WebCT customers parted company when they had the chance to do so. Here are just a few recent examples:

1) Howard CC is taking their 29,000 students from BlackCT to Instructure.
2) Flinders University is moving their 19,000 students from BlackCT Vista to Moodle,
3) Auburn U is moving 25,000 students from Vista to either D2L or Instructure,
4) CU-Boulder's 31,000 students will leave BlackCT for D2L
5) Univ of Greenwich is moving 26,000 students from BlackCT to Moodle
6) University of Florida is moving 55,000 students from BlackCT to Sakai

Likewise, many of the Angel customers are unhitching their dinghy from the Blackboard ship. For example:

1) Providence College will be moving their 4,600 students from BlackAngel to either Moodle or Sakai.
2) Univ of Oklahoma School of Nursing (1,600) is moving from BlackAngel to D2L.
3) Marylhurst Univ. (11,000) switched from BlackAngel to Moodle.
4) Univ. of Waterloo (30,000) is moving from BlackAngel to D2L.
5) SUNY Plattsburgh (6,000+) is moving from BlackAngel to Moodle.

These are some very short lists gleaned from a much longer list of schools that have already decided to leave from one of the various flavors of Blackboard or are currently contemplating a move. I will continue to analyze the validity of, and continue to post more information from the list sent to me that indicates over 300 schools and consortia that have either decided to leave Blackboard or are currently evaluating a switch from Blackboard.

Just one more note about this list - all of the data is from 2010 and after. This doesn't include all the schools that dumped Bb prior to 2010 (of which there are many).

Just one more note about this list - No, I can't send you the list. It's not mine to share in its entirety.

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