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Obligatory post: Blackboard and Angel

University of Manitoba, during a recent LMS review, selected Angel as its new learning management system. In talking with faculty and others attending presentations by various LMS vendors, a clear “anything but Blackboard” view was evident. Disdain for Blackboard is higher than for any other company in the learning technology field. Which is unfortunate, because BB’s reputation has been self-created by their litigation and anti-discussion stance (I was at a presentation a few years ago by BB and they refused to take questions after the session…which is, to me, an indication that the counter-perspective they are not willing to admit has merit).

BB has announced it is purchasing Angel. Their current strategy seems to be to win the LMS wars not by building a better product, but rather by acquiring competitors and using market dominance as a point of competition. And why not? It worked for Microsoft. It might be good for BB, but it’s bad for our industry. This will, of course, only push adoption of Moodle (and possibly Desire2Learn). The other possibility is that the edtech field will get more serious about personal learning environments…


  1. Alec Couros wrote:

    Again, glad the U of R adopted Moodle and was glad to see the announcement the other day that as of Sept 2009, WebCT will be entirely discontinued from our campus.

    Friday, May 8, 2009 at 10:01 am | Permalink
  2. glen wrote:

    The other possibility is that the edtech field will get more serious about personal learning environments…

    I think the ed tech folks get it but the new corporate colonialists aren’t marketing to them.

    One of the big selling points of corporate LMSs ( or Moodle for that matter) is that they offer a similar level of control over the education enterprise that place-based learning offers. They appeal to the pseudo-corporate mindset that pervades in higher education administration.

    If education really is about learning then institutions should be equipping learners with their own set of tools, accessible after the learner is no longer associated with the institution. Learners can add value to their own personal digital encyclopedia while connected with the institution, but then take it with with them when they go.

    But it isn’t really about learning is it? Its about bums in seats, virtual or otherwise.

    It will be interesting to see how the new BB treats their new ex-Angel clients especially those who chose Angel over BB. Taking hostages seems to be one of the main BB business practices and now people at U of M will be paying part of the ransom again. I wonder if the Angel contracts are binding under the circumstances.

    Friday, May 8, 2009 at 10:23 am | Permalink
  3. Julia Itani wrote:

    Our institution is facing a similar challenge. We are analyzing different LMS en lieu of WebCT. However, as opposed to 2 days ago when we were sure we would go with Angel, now we know that we definitely don’t want to sign another lengthy and hurtful contract with Blackboard. So we decided to go back with our decision and re evaluate. I’m trying to push Moodle but faculty seem to be resistant to this specific LMS – they say it needs too much customization. I’d say.. Moodle doesn’t offer as many tools that provide them control over their students as Angel does. My guess is that they are afraid. But my opinion is that this predatory strategy from Blackboard is going to make Angel costumers very unhappy and unease.

    Friday, May 8, 2009 at 10:26 am | Permalink
  4. Paulie FL wrote:

    Is Moodle ready for serious prime time?? Learning outcomes, standards, objectives, reports, blogs, wikis, intelligent agents, etc…We were a few weeks away from most likely choosing Angel over D2L…which we liked almost as much. I think D2L will win out, but I will do some Moodle research.

    Monday, May 11, 2009 at 2:37 pm | Permalink
  5. Chris wrote:

    We were a few weeks away from signing with Angel too. Now we are rethinking what we want to go with, and giving D2L a closer look. When we first were looking into BB they really made it seem like they were doing us a favor, by meeting with us.

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Permalink