Press Release: Blackboard and WebCT Announce Plans to merge, Blackboard October 12, 2005
This is obviously huge news. I'll have more coverage and reax tomorrow.

Here is the direct link: http://www.blackboard.com/WebCT
(My site was hit with a DOS last night and again tonight, so there may be a server outage)

Announced at 4pm eastern to (both blackboard.com and webct.com are pointing to the same link):

Blackboard and WebCT, leading providers of enterprise software and services to the education industry have announced plans to merge. The announcement was made at October 12th at 4 pm EST in a news release posted on PR News wire.

"I have had experience with both companies and view this merger as combining excellence with excellence to advance the e-Learning industry, I also see this combination as a way to break down barriers across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and to open the door to new opportunities for collaboration among institutions using different e-learning platforms." - Jack Wilson, President of The University of Massachusetts and current WebCT Vista client.

“This merger makes tremendous sense for our clients, shareholders, and employees.” said Michael Chasen, Blackboard President and Chief Executive Officer. “It represents an unparalleled opportunity for two successful, mission-driven organizations to unify in a combined platform singularly focused on being the premier partner for educators on a global basis. Together with our clients, we have one of those rare and special opportunities to truly improve the access, quality and efficiency of education on a global scale.”

“Today is a great day for WebCT’s and Blackboard’s clients, partners, investors and employees,” said Carol Vallone, WebCT President and Chief Executive Officer. “Both companies feel passionately about academic pursuits, institutions of learning and, most importantly, their various constituents, and have shared credit in jointly pioneering the integration of technology and education. We’ve thought a lot about the alignment of cultures, technologies and overall strategies of the companies and these businesses belong together.”

Just the Facts:

Plans for the merger:

» Closing expected in late 2005 or early 2006.

» Company will remain under the Blackboard brand.

» Both Blackboard and WebCT product lines will remain intact and supported.

» Over time, Blackboard will incorporate the best features and usability characteristics from the two product lines into a new standards-based product set.

» Combined company will have more than 3,700 clients.

» Approximately 800 employees.

» 7 offices around the US and abroad.

[Tags: Online Learning, Usability, Blackboard, WebCT, Experience, Academics and Academia, Quality, Mergers and Takeovers] [Comment]

George Siemens and Stephen Downes: Content and Connections, Stephen's Web October 12, 2005
I'm not sure how to describe this other that to say it is an off-the-cuff conversation George Siemens and I had this morning while waiting in the wings to take part in an online seminar hosted by Teemu Arina in Finland. We discussed the relation between content and connection, pondering how the two combine to create learning, and questioning whgether they are public and social or private and neural. MS-Word format. More from the conference itself tomorrow when I find the link. [Tags: Online Learning] [Comment]

Lisa DiCarlo: Can You Tell Blogs From 'Real' News?, Forbes October 12, 2005
Yahoo! has started providing blog posts alongside news listings (here's a sample; you won't see it on main news pages), leading to the question posted in the title of this article (a bit of a moot question, because the blog posts are very clearly a sidebar). But it moves us to wonder whether we will one day ask whether we can distinguish between professionally published and student-authored learning resources. Hm? [Tags: Yahoo!, Web Logs] [Comment]

Michael Feldstein: Does Education Inflected Architecture = Web 2.0?, E-Literate October 12, 2005
The real question posed by Michael Feldstein is not the one in the title but whether 'remix' is a type of consumption, and he argues that it is. He writes, "What I particularly like about reframing this sort of integration as 'active consumption' rather than production (or development) is that it moves the boundary between “users” and system creators while still allowing that boundary to persist." By contrast, I don't want that boundary to persist. When I buy a chair from WalMart (not that I would ever buy a chair from walMart, but I digress), I may be depicted as a 'consumer' of the chair, but by the same token, WalMart is a 'consumer' of my money - money which I produced, and not someone else. By keeping the boundary between consumer and producer, it is in a way implied that the only useful thing I can produce is money (and that my employer is somehow the real producer of whatever 'things' it then 'sells'). That doesn't work for me; it entrenches an asymmetric relationship, and asymmetric relationships are, in the long run, unstable, whether in learning, in employment, or in Web 2.0. [Tags: Web 2.0] [Comment]

Gary Woodill: E-Learning in Canada: A Brief Overview, Global Learning FachNews October 12, 2005
It's a very brief overview, an consistent with other pictures of Canadian e-learning I'm seen, though this report concentrates almost exclusively on the corporate sector, not mentioning the work that is taking place in universities and government agencies. [Tags: Canada, Online Learning] [Comment]

D'Arcy Norman: Playing with Rails, D’Arcy Norman Dot Net October 12, 2005
Just for fun, D'Arcy Norman plays with Ruby on Rails and while he had more success than I did, still runs into some interesting issues. His installation actually works - I'm told that mine does as well; it was being blocked by a closed port on the NRC server (well, that plus my system password had expired in mid-install). There will be a part two as once I get my system functioning I want to explore application development, including some of the table joins D'Arcy talks about (essential for the newsletter you are reading today). [Tags: Newsletters] [Comment]

Konrad Glogowski: Against Writers' Welfare, Blog of Proximal Development October 12, 2005
In Grade 10 I had a teacher named Jamie Bell who, in English class, assigned as a writing project anything I want to write (or draw, or create, or design). I eventually submitted a journal filled with short shories, musings, drawings, crossword puzzles, city plans, and more. I have written in my own way, with my own voice, ever since. Makes me think. "By producing the kind of writing their teachers seem to want, students hope to gain a good mark. Over the years they lose the six-year-old's sense of having things to say of their own." The fostering of one's own voice, at a time these valuable skills are being learned, is so important. "The teacher who abandons the role of assessor to become an advisor, begins to change the picture... the writer's own intentions begin to operate, and the teacher-audience is now seen as a real listener." Never lose your six-year-old eyes. [Tags: Project Based Learning] [Comment]

India Uncut: A Question of Principles, http://indiauncut.blogspot.com/2005/10/question-of-principles.html October 12, 2005
A major controversy is swirling around an Indian school, the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM), an article about the Institute published in a college lifestyles magazine, Jam, and Gaurav Sabnis, a popular Indian blogger who linked to the article and added some commentary of his own. IIPM did not respond well to the critical articles, and after publication a series of attack blogs sprang up. In addition Sabnis was served with a legal notice and, more to the point, according to Sabnis, his employer, IBM, was threatened by IIPM (which happens to be one of IBM's major customers). "IIPM had given IBM a deadline of Monday morning, i.e morning of today, 10th October, to ensure I deleted my posts. Failing which, they would burn the laptops." Sabnis resigned from IBM on Monday (making it clear that the company was not responsible for the decision). Anyhow, as this article notes, a storm has erupted in the blogosphere as many other writers have recognized how easy it is to place this sort of pressure on people to keep them quiet. It makes me think of the 'not hired for blogging' articles we've run here recently. In the previous centuries, civil rights were drafted to protect our liberties, including freedom of speech, from the excesses of governance. In this century, with a shifting balance of power, we have to ask, what will protect us from the excesses of the private sector, within which we have few civil rights? Whether Sabnis is right or wrong, I stand with him - his fate is my fate, a fact of which I am conscious every time I press 'send' in these pages. And that, maybe, is something tenure committees should also think about. Via Dan Gillmor and Global Voices. [Tags: Portable Computers, Schools, Web Logs] [Comment]