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?