Blackboard are Not Alone

Graham Attwell, Wales Wide Web, Aug 03, 2006
Commentary by Stephen Downes

OLDaily full coverage: because it's a bit hard to follow, full coverage of the Blackboard case is being provided on a separate page (full coverage will continue on OLDaily as well, don't worry). Click here for all coverage in one handy chronological list.

The patent fight has widened now that it has come to light that SAP have also filed for a series of learning management patents, including a 'course editor', 'e-learning authoring tool' and 'e-learning system'. The applications were filed mostly in 2004 and 2005.

Ray Corrigan outlines what he expects the impact on the Open University will be. "The patent is nonsense on stilts and generically could be interpreted to describe what we have been doing here at the Open University for at least a generation and certainly for the 11 years that I've been here. I suspect Centrinity's FirstClass will be on Blackboard's lawyers' list of targets as well as the open source Moodle system the OU are adopting."

He also reports on some of Blackboard's previous nastiness, citing Jennifer Jenkins's write up of the case at the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse (it was also covered here at OLDaily).

Mark Oehlert offers some criticism of the patent document and, among other sites, links to the New York Times stock watch page for Blackboard. Looking at it a little more closely, I notice that Blackboard executives were dumping thousands of shares back in May. One wonders why.

Graham Attwell points to an item from that same month in which, and I quote, "Campus card solutions provider Blackboard is getting into the laundry business. It has added the eSuds online laundry service to its product line, giving USA Technologies access to hundreds of Blackboard's colleges and universities." Weird. Attwell comments, "I think it is time to return e-learning to the education sector - not a company which washes its dirty washing in public."

David Jnnings points to the Wikipedia page, where more and more contributions of prior art are piling up.

Discussion in an Advanced Distributed Learning forum. As Alan Jeffries observes, "Indeed - I note that Bb didn't immediately go after Docent, Saba, etc.. I guess Bb are the SCO Group of e-learning now. An obvious, cheap-shot money-making tactic. Hearsay is that D2L will be fighting the suit. In a fair world that should serve as a reasonable test-case to limit some of the more absurd moves of the USPO recently."

Bryan Alexander has been blogging about the patent at the NITLE Liberal Education Today (here, here, here). He also adds a couple of unrelated links to Lawrence Lessig and J.D. Lasica (to namedrop? to draw their attention? You won't do that with a Yahoo search redirect link!).

Karyn Romeis expresses concern about the contraditions and loopholes. Roger Goodson comments briefly, as does Christopher Wigginton.

Howard Rheingold Howard Rheingold has picked up the story. "Blackboard's actions are shameful, greedy, bogus, and have the potential for retarding the development of online learning throughout the world."

Leigh Blackall mentions the case in TALO. And Deon Metelski got tired of hearing about Blackboard and decided to take his mind off it by starting a blog, Tools for School. Silver lining?

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