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On Heels of Injunction, Desire2Learn Releases New LMS, Repository, ePortfolio

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Blackboard's Patent Controversy

Although Blackboard pledged in February 2007 that it would not assert its patent rights against developers of open-source learning management systems, the existence of the patent and the lawsuit against rival commercial developer Desire2Learn have left many uneasy. Both Desire2Learn and the open-source advocacy group the Software Freedom Law Center have filed for the USPTO to reexamine the validity of the patent. Both requests have been granted. The reexaminations have not yet concluded.

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Backboard's Patent Pledge

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Desire2Learn has released new versions of its Learning Environment and Learning Repository software, as well as its new ePortfolio product. The announcement comes on the heels of two legal setbacks in Desire2Learn's patent infringement case with Blackboard.

The Desire2Learn Learning Environment 8.3 release is a direct result of a March 10 injunction against the company from selling version 8.2.2 or earlier in the United States, which followed the loss in February 2008 in the patent infringement case Blackboard brought against D2L back in 2006. Although it follows the injunction by just a few days, the company said version 8.3 has been in the works for the last year, redesigned to remove elements that might infringe on Blackboard's patent (the validity of which is still being reexamined by the United States Patent and Trademark Office) and also enhanced with new features.

These new features of the Learning Environment (part of the Enterprise eLearning Suite) include expanded customization options, including in the ares of course migration and "individualized learning paths"; new collaboration through group management (group discussion areas, group drop boxes, and group lockers); and expanded assessment and learning outcomes management features.

D2L has also released Learning Repository 3.9.5, an update to the company's digital asset management and content management tool. It includes new, "advanced" metadata features for sharing and reusing resources; new search capabilities; a consolidated "pool of learning objects"; and integration with Learning Environment and other external repositories.

In the category of completely new software, the company this week also launched Desire2Learn ePortfolio. the new electronic portfolio solution was developed with input from 75 individual institutions, the company told us, about 70 percent higher education, 20 percent K-12, and 10 percent corporate.

It includes personalized tools for organizing and sharing digital "artifacts" in online portfolios, with a wide variety of settings for customizing the portfolios into which assets will be placed and who can view them. "The user's ability to publish anything within the ePortfolio creates a complete view of their learning journey," the company said in a statement released yesterday. Students can also publish individual assessments, though instructors can determine which elements of those assessments can be viewable (questions and answers together, answers alone, overall score alone, etc.).

Some specific features include:

  • Support for static and dynamic portfolios;
  • Web 2.0 features, including widgets and tagging;
  • Pre-defined, customizable themes;
  • Administration of themes to allow institutions to create consistent elements (headers, footers, main sections, backgrounds, navigation, etc.) across all student portfolios;
  • Customizable forms to allow students to display characteristics like work and education history and allow those data to be captured by the institution for analysis;
  • A customizable dashboard; and
  • An open-source WYSIWYG editor for creating new artifacts within the system.

Desire2Learn ePortfolio is also designed to integrate with D2L's Learning Environment. More information can be found at D2L's site, here.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .

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