Carl Straumsheim has an interesting piece over at InsideHigherEd.com about Blackboards newest release “Ultra” and its strategy to support its legacy app as well. The real question comes down to wether or not Blackboard can transition to the cloud and still support non-cloud hosted versions. He quotes Glenda Morgan, a research at Gartner that specializes in educational technology. She said blackboard “is trying to do too many things and not disappoint many people.” She continued:
Down the road that means a fragmented and unsustainable model. . . . They need to figure out what the strategy is and just be really clear about it, and then if they end up changing it, be really hones about it.
The article provides a good overview of the growth of Instructure’s Canvas product and Blackboard attempt to upgrade itself and move past some missteps in recent years.
Blackboard recently posted to its blog about how successful students use LMS tools that are available to them. The interesting part of their study is the most consistent predictor of student success. According to John Whitmer:
The most consistent predictor of student achievement was how frequently a student looked at their grades; this surprised me given that other tools (like assessments) directly and tangibly influence a student’s grade. This is an independent behavioral measure and yet is a very strong predictor.
The most successful students are those who access MyGrades most frequently; students doing poorly do not access their grades. Students who never access their grades are more likely to fail than students who access them at least once. There is a direct relationship at every quartile of use – and at the risk of spoiling results for the other tools, this is the only tool for which this direct trend exists. It appears that students in the middle range of grades aren’t impacted by their use of the tool.
This finding suggests that to change student outcomes, we need to use proactive intervention strategies. Examples include grade notifications within the Activity stream of Blackboard Learn with the Ultra experience, or the alerts provided by Blackboard Predict.
When Bill Ballhaus took over the helm at Blackboard many were openly willing to give him some advice. Michael Feldstein said Blackboard was facing issues with customers who were “increasingly unhappy with the support they are getting on the current platform,” who were “unclear about how they will be affected by future development plans,” and who are “unconvinced that Blackboard will deliver a next-generation product in the near future that will be a compelling alternative to the competitors in the market.” While Joshua Kim at Inside Higher Ed said he should “bet the company on analytics.”
Now Campus Technology has set down with Ballhaus for an interview. The interview is available here.
Katie Blot, senior vice president for corporate strategy and business development at Blackboard, announced on the Blackboard blog that Bill Ballhaus was replacing Jay Bhatt as CEO. She wrote:
Today, we are fortunate to be joined by a great leader – our new CEO Bill Ballhaus. Bill’s philosophy is directly in line with ours and his skill set is going to help us reach new heights. While this is certainly a change for Blackboard, rest assured that the heart of our mission and strategy will remain the same. . . .
So we have defined our strategy and now, with Bill joining the company, we’ll continue to execute against it. Bill has accomplished much over his career and his operational expertise has led various businesses to great success. He and I share a fundamental belief that if you make your first priority taking care of your customers, the business results will follow. So, under his leadership Blackboard will continue our focus on doing just that. We will deliver next generation teaching and learning capabilities to the market, continue our international growth, and improve even further the way we serve our customers and strive to exceed their expectations. Bill is uniquely positioned to help us execute against these priorities, and with him we’ll achieve significant advances for our customers and for Blackboard.
LearnDash.com has an article about a 2012 survey on the penetration of learning management systems into the marketplace. According to them Blackboard still rules with 74%, with Moodle being its closest competitor @42%. Desire2Learn is a distant third with 14%. [Please note that because schools have multiple LMSs, the numbers do not add up to 100%.]
The Delta Initiative has posted a their webinar on “The State of Leaerning Management in Higher Education.” It provides a brief history of the development of the learning management system (LMS) and the growth and consolidation in the LMS market.
The primary focus is looking at the acquisition of LMSs by state wide systems or consortiums.