Blackborg Collective Assimilated!

Jul 13, 2011 by

 

click the image to visit my parody of Blackboard's acquisition

It may not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed my thoughts and ramblings since the inception of my blog, but I am NOT a fan of “walled gardens”. I like my classrooms to be as open as possible, parents and administration willing that is. While I’ve stepped on a few toes in the past pushing forward with many initiatives in the classroom that have come back to bite me (open chat rooms for practicing typing skills probably wasn’t the smartest thing), I’ve come to recognize that use of large expensive corporate controlled services can be oppressive, nonconductive to learning in an environment that needs to mimic the real world, and can very easily blunt creativity, discovery, and student interest by putting all of the learning behind a wall. Mix in the fact that Blackboard has seemed to gain a large portion of it’s success by gobbling up it’s competition, and then regurgitating it in a very poor way, and you’ve got a recipe for me to start mistrusting it’s true “corporate intentions”.

That, and my most recent ds106 assignment is to tell a web story through the repurposing of an actual website. I decided to use the service provided by Bo.lt, because it allowed me to easily create a copy of the page with the recent press release about Blackboard’s purchase, then remix it, alter it, and ultimately turn it into a digital commentary on the original news. I didn’t have to create a parody, but it just seemed to fit since Blackboard functions in much the same way the Borg from Star Trek do, “assimilating” their competition rather than truly innovate. It seemed as though poetic irony struck this past month when it was announced that Blackboard itself had been acquired by a private equity firm, which of course leads me to the essential question here; how can the integrity of Blackboard’s commitment to the educational community be maintained (and some might argue it was never there to begin with) when they’re controlled by a corporation whose only interest is to make sure their acquisition makes money?

 

 

6 Comments

  1. Jayna Brown

    I agree with your disconent with “wall gardens”. Education theorist have suggested that a good leader/educator is able to release the energy of people allowing learning to happen by way of creativity. This requires that educator to have faith in their students, provide challenging experineces, and be able to delegate responsibilities. These so called “wall gardens” not only muffle the learning experience for the students but also hinders the educators ability to grow in these areas. However, I don’t see what the big deal is about the use of corporate controlled services. Some products are very resourceful (although I have had little exposure to them).

    Still form what I know of Blackboard they do seem to be money hungry.

    Jayna

    • It’s not that I’m against corporate owned services, as there are many which have done a great deal of good for schools and educators (Discovery Streaming, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, etc.). It’s more the fact that Blackboard is now owned by a company whose only focus is to buy “underperforming” or weaker companies, and then try to turn a profit from them by making them more profitable.

      Blackboard is money hungry because they fell into the standard trap of growth through acquisition, and you can’t sustain that growth without a constant infusion of cash.

  2. Let’s hope that ds106 type resistance is not futile. Efforts like Jim and Martha’s to use the web for coursework out in the open in ways we all expect the web to feel like is amazing. But can we find ways to have this become the mainstream? Not just exist on the edges?

    • If Wikipedia was able to do it, I have full faith that someone with enough connections and chutzpah to make something big happen for educational sphere.

  3. You did an awesome job with this assignment. So much detail! I read also that you lost your work at one point too! Good job jumping right back in! I agree with you about classroom teaching styles. I feel like an open classroom is much more productive in learning. Again, great job!

  4. I feel like sci-fi is a prevalent theme in the work that’s come out recently in DS106. You do not disappoint.

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