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LMS’ and educators needs

I just listened to an hour-long presentation by Blackboard on LMS’ and open source. After exploring Sakai and Moodle, they presented Blackboard as the most desirable solution in large, complex implementations (I was shocked! :) ).

First, it’s important to note that LMS’ are acknowledging some viable open source options. They are at least trying to enter the conversation. Unfortunately, the conversation is like listening to a new kid who just moved to the neighborhood. In their previous residence, they were “cool”. Now they’re trying to convince everyone in the new neighborhood that they are still cool…based on the fact that they used to be cool. The new environment isn’t really interested in that discussion. Play our game…not yours.

The entire presentation was focused on two things: money, and implementation challenges. If I adhere to their assumptions, then they presented their case well. However, I’m at odds with their core statements of what it means to learn. In the end, it’s very likely that, in North America at least, there isn’t a large cost savings between open source and proprietary software. But as an educator, that’s not my concern. I’m concerned about the learners. And their learning. This wasn’t mentioned at all. I know administrators are cost and implementation focused, but I would hope that they also see the instructors and learners as stakeholders in the process. A bad solution, well-implemented, still sucks.

Why not ask learners what they want? Or faculty? If Blackboard, D2L, and WebCT are genuinely interested in meeting learner needs, then engage us (as faculty and learners) in a legitimate discussion. Once you listen to what we need/want, rather than telling us what you’ll do for us, we can begin to partner. As of yet, I haven’t received many consulting projects with LMS vendors…:)