SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Thoughts on CMS Patent Controversies

By Frank Tansey, Co-Editor

Head down and working on the road, I missed last week’s court filing by Blackboard, Inc. against Desire2Learn, Inc. for infringement of Blackboard’s recently-received course management system patent. Arriving back home, it didn’t take too long for me to begin hearing the chatter across the eLearning community – first a press release from a Blackboard competitor, then a series of posts in a number of blogs I follow. Then a quick Web search revealed the rising interest in this issue within the eLearning community.

A quick review of the posts is decidedly anti-Blackboard. Comments frequently describe the patent as overly broad and as a threat to all forms of course management system. A significant number of posts cite the existence of prior art, including systems that predate the existence of Blackboard even as a company. In fact, a number of individuals are contributing to a History of Virtual Learning Environments on Wikipedia as proof that the patent should not have been granted in the first place.

When I contacted Blackboard to discuss this issue, I was routed to Matt Small, senior vice president and general counsel for Blackboard. Mr. Small paints a rather different picture. His take was that the patent was not too broad and covered only certain functions of course management systems. His point was that, prior to the creation of the product that was the basis of the patent, course management systems were not Enterprise grade. They functioned on a smaller scale and didn’t provide the scope of features for which the patent was granted. He further contests the assertion that Blackboard has received a patent that covers all functions of a CMS as some have claimed...

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News & Product Updates

Blackboard Sues Rival Alleging Patent Infringement

Blackboard Inc. has sued Desire2Learn Inc., accusing it of...

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AICC PENS Plugfest Scheduled for September 19-20

The AICC (Aviation Industry CBT Committee) PENS (Package Exchange Notification Services) Plugfest is scheduled for...

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U. of Chicago Forms Research Center for Financial Math

The University of Chicago said it would open a new research center for the advanced study of mathematics in the world of finance...

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Case Study

Educational Technology as Community Development Tool

By Zan Tansey, Assistant Community Development Educator, Weinstein Hall, New York University

New York University is the largest private university in the United States. This urban university has a residence hall program that houses 11,701 students in 23 facilities. The facilities themselves are located across the Manhattan landscape, although many are within the general footprint of the campus. About a third of housed students are freshmen, though the campus provides housing to 57% of all undergraduates and 23% of all students. As one might expect, the university serves a very diverse student population.

With such a diverse resident population and this distributed environment, the NYU Resident Education program faces a major challenge in developing community among the full range of residents.

To meet this need, NYU looked for a system that the students would find easy to use, and one that had the power to promote collaboration. Addressing this challenge, the Department of Residential Education began using the campus’s Blackboard system, which provides students with a means of communicating and collaborating within their courses. The thinking at the time was that, rather than educating students on how to use a new system, most students were already using Blackboard in the classes and were fully familiar with the key modules of the system...

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Tech Notes

Distance Ed and Institutional Performance

Distance learning is sometimes viewed by nonprofit colleges and universities as either an end in itself or a positioning factor in a rapidly changing market that is increasingly responsive to flexible for-profit postsecondary programs. Yet there’s more to the flex model than student convenience. It’s time to focus on how flex courses, programs, and services can address some of the institutional performance obligations that are reshaping the social compact between nonprofit higher ed and the public and its policy makers... (Campus Technology)

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Reader Response

From the Reader Response Forum

"Smart" Classrooms
Posted by: Carine


I read with great interest this blurb in your May 24 piece in Campus Technology. We are preparing to build 13 "smart" classrooms and were looking for a solution that would let instructors access the DVD/VCR, but not the rest of the AV equipment. You read our minds! In perusing the Middle Atlantic Web site, however, I wasn't able to come up with a picture of a cabinet put together as described here. Might you know where such a photo exists?


Photos of the cabinet in question can be found here. Model numbers are available as well.

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