Continuing Education, Corporate, Domestic, Education Quality, High school / Secondary 2, Investors, Open Source Education, Private education, Public education, Publishers, Required, Startups, Technology, University & College - Written by Wired Academic on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 7:00 - 0 Comments
A Philadelphia Roll: Rounding Up News & Opinion & Links From Educause
WA will be attending education conferences in the future. This year, we could not attend the Educause conference in Philadelphia, which had 7,300 people signed up to attend. So we offer a round up of some good coverage we found via Twitter and other sources… the Pearson v. Blackboard LMS question seemed to be a key one for most attendees:
Future of Education is Mobile, Social, and in the Cloud: Lessons from EduCause, Part One
EduCause is the annual Woodstock of higher education. With a particular emphasis on “the intelligent use of information technology” in the robust arena of online education.…
Nevertheless, Don Kilburn, Vice Chairman of Higher Education at Pearson, contends that the “The next wave in education is going to be open source, shared data, collaborating faculty.” No surprise since Pearson no longer intends for its interactive materials and educational texts to be a “closed box.” Instead, the publishing giant announced at EduCause that it will now allow the sharing of what was once proprietary published content. “We fully intend, and our real strategy is, to move from books to content distribution and to added technology services” for university and secondary education customers, Kilburn added.
In a nod to Seth Godin, keynote speaker at EduCause, “The power of this integration will cause some dip in our front-end earlier model of publishing,” Kilburn warned. This might be a colossal understatement given that Pearson is now giving away not only its books, but its new LMS’s, which heretofore cost customers upwards of several million dollars over the life of the LMS. Longer-term, however, Kilburn is confident that the Pearson open source model will succeed. This is mainly because its free learning management system (or LMS), CourseCompass, and its new free cloud-based social learning management system, OpenClass, will become the premier online ed distribution platforms (think Facebook) because they freely welcome, in their very DNA, user-generated content.
Pearson’s competitors on the EduCause floor, who were exhibiting their own closed or open source learning management systems (including LMS’s from industry-leader Blackboard), held a different view. Several (who did not wish to be named because they still sell content from Pearson) claimed that Pearson’s LMS’s would create a closed loop that would allow it to monopolize its own market. In response, Kilburn said, “We will carry, for instance,McGraw-Hill books” (Pearson’s largest competitor in education content delivery) “when it makes sense and the professor wants it up. Pearson will be open source and all published works can co-exist.”
From InsideHigherEd Oct. 19, 2011
Opener Than Thou?
PHILADELPHIA — Blackboard found itself playing defense last week when, right before most higher education technologists were set to ship out for Educause 2011, a competitor announced a free and “open” learning management system (LMS) — a technology Blackboard sells for a pretty penny.
Now, on the first official day of the annual technology conference, Blackboard is back on the offensive with several cost-free perks in its own LMS designed to promote its own bona fides on “openness.”
Blackboard is joining forces with Creative Commons to make it easier for an instructor using its learning management system to free his syllabuses, along with other content he has authored inside the LMS, and share them with instructors at other institutions.
…In the week since Pearson unveiled OpenClass, Blackboard has insisted that the new Pearson product appears to be little more than CourseSites with less visible meat on its bones. Henderson said Blackboard has received assurances from Pearson that OpenClass was not designed to be an institution-wide LMS, but rather an alternative for some professors to take up at their own prerogative.…But Adrian Sannier, Pearson’s OpenClass guru told Inside Higher Ed something quite different Monday. The product is designed to be adopted (if not as an immediate replacement for the institutional LMS) by top technology administrators, said Sannier, a senior vice president of product at Pearson. Individual professors cannot currently download it themselves, he said. Pearson officials have also said that while OpenClass features are not fully visible yet, the service will be a full LMS for institutions.
As much as I enjoyed seeing the Start-Up Alley at this year’s Educause I would also love to see a section devoted to free and open source tools, just to get some of the spirit of what’s going on in many of the sessions and workshops elsewhere in the convention center into the exhibit hall. Yes, I know that exhibitors pay to be able to stake out their position in the exhibit hall. Still, when I came across the Endnote booth I wanted to see a booth devoted to Zotero, the comparable research tool developed by the Center for History and New Media that is not only awesome but also free of charge. I longed to see aMoodle booth next to the space devoted to Blackboard. How many people attending Educause, I wonder, have perhaps heard of a free and open-source product like WordPress (about which we’ve written a great deal here at ProfHacker) but have never seen how easy it is to install and run? What kind of an impact would it make on campus purchasing decisions if these tools were given more prominence at meetings like Educause? I don’t claim to know the best way to make that happen (or to persuade everyone to think that doing so would be a good idea), but it’s what’s been on my mind the last several days.
I’ve often heard it said “Well, the software may be free, but you’ll have to pay people to maintain it.” And to that my response is, “We already employ those people. They currently spend their time maintaining the commercial software our campuses have purchased. It’s not going to increase our costs to eliminate the money we spend on that commercial software.” I’d like to see more campuses open to the idea of experimentation: don’t abandon your commercial LMS, but allow faculty to try out other possibilities. (And how about we stop referring to this sort of experimentation as faculty “going rogue” and start referring to it as faculty exercising academic freedom? We choose our own texts, we design our own assignments, we construct our own syllabi, and we should be able to choose our own educational technology, no?) Students won’t be as confused by the resulting diversity of interfaces as is often feared. They do just fine having to learn how to use different databases in the library or different information resources out there on the Web. If enough faculty and students find that they prefer free and open source tools to the ones you’ve been paying for… then maybe you should stop paying.
As it turns out, sources close to Google made it very clear that there was no “partnership” between the two companies. As one source noted, that would be like saying the my company had partnered with Apple just because we announced an iPad App. Nobody particularly wanted to be quoted, hoping to put something a media relations debacle behind them and focus instead on what Pearson’s new LMS really represented: a powerful entry into the Google Apps Marketplace.
There’s no doubt that Pearson’s LMS provides a great free alternative in the LMS space for schools already using Google Apps. Along with 5 other learning management system listed in the Marketplace, OpenClass offers users easy single sign-on from Google Apps and a fully hosted environment so that schools don’t need to make further data center investments to use a quality LMS.
For his part, Otte took aim at the question of online education being a time-suck for professors — a question that has prompted fears of faculty burnout. But the CUNY technologist suggested that this question does not adequately account for the cost, in time, of finding one’s footing on a new teaching platform.
“We may be confounding the time it takes to do something with the time it takes to learn to do something,” Otte said. The first time instructors teach online, they tend to overcompensate for their ignorance by over-investing their time in the virtual classroom. But that does not mean they will not adjust and adapt — just as most instructors did to the circumstance and demands of classroom teaching when they began their careers.
Read more: Inside Higher Ed
Mobile Picks Up Speed by Steve Kolowich
The proliferation of mobile apps is one of the more significant findings of the 2011 Campus Computing Survey, an annual study of technology officials at about 500 nonprofit colleges conducted by the Campus Computing Project.
Other key findings include the continuing rise of electronic texts and reading devices, the continuing decline of Blackboard’s share of the market for learning management platforms, and the continuing reluctance of administrators to cede certain data systems to the cloud. Kenneth C. Green, the director of the project, is slated to unveil this year’s survey today here at the Educause conference today. (Green also is a blogger for Inside Higher Ed, and conducts surveys for Inside Higher Ed.)
The rise of mobile has been a theme in higher-education technology for a while — not least at Educause, where several software companies last year told Inside Higher Ed they had shifted their development priorities to focus on mobile apps first, browser apps second.
But when Green released the 2010 survey data, the institutions that had already activated mobile apps for their learning management systems, or planned to do so within the academic year, were in the minority: 42 percent of private universities, 33 percent of public universities, 25 percent of private four-year colleges, 18 percent of public four-year colleges, and 12 percent of community colleges.
The proportion of institutions that either have gone live with mobile apps, or plan to do so by next summer, nearly doubled overall, climbing from 23 percent to 43 percent. Community colleges saw the sharpest rise, which the proportion of colleges with an institutional mobile presence more than tripling, to 41 percent.
Read more: Inside Higher Ed
1. Instructure Canvas Is For Real: Canvas is very new, the team is very young, and the competition is very experienced. Despite these obstacles, I have come away from EDUCAUSE believing that the Canvas LMS must be evaluated against Blackboard, D2L, and Moodle when it comes time to choose your enterprise LMS. The Canvas team did a good job at EDUCAUSE, striking a nice balance between showing their platform, talking about the product roadmap, and highlighting new customers (such as Brown and Maricopa).
2. Adobe Is (Hopefully) Re-Engaging The Conversation: Many of us believe that Adobe has some great potential to make more of an impact in higher ed, beyond the Creative Suite set of products. Adobe Connect is today, I believe, the premium platform for synchronous web teaching. However, Adobe needs to make some serious effort to invest in Connect if the platform is going to avoid being overtaken by Microsoft (Skype / Lync) and Blackboard (Collaborate), Google Hangouts, Citrix GoToMeeting, or other players. From spending time with the Adobe Education Team at EDUCAUSE, I think that Adobe is looking to re-engage with academic learning technology leaders on product and services roadmap. I encourage you to reach out to the Adobe Education Team.
At the EDUCAUSE 2011 conference today, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Hal Abelson – founding director of Free Software Foundation and Creative Commons. He presented on the state of openness in education. While on the surface openness is gaining traction through scholarship and publication, content providers and journal publishers are starting to push back.
During the talk, he used the image below (from this article – .pdf) to argue that journal publishers have a monopoly. The surface progress of openness belies a deeper, more dramatic period of conflict around openness that is only now beginning.
Here’s a chart showing consolidation among textbook publishers:
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