New OER Survey: The disconnect between faculty caring and assigning

In 2012 the Babson Survey Research Group (BSRG) put out a new report on usage and perceptions of open educational resources (OER) usage in higher education. Covered in this blog post, the 2012 report was really a combination of three separate surveys of academic leaders and faculty. In 2014 BSRG put out a new survey of faculty relating to OER, covered in this post, that I considered a significant milestone by providing actual data from a dedicated national survey to back up and clarify what many had assumed regarding OER. That report, however, was a one-off report, but the Hewlett Foundation and Pearson subsequently agreed to fund three annual longitudinal studies starting with the 2016 report released today. Per the press release:

Key findings from the report include:

  • Faculty awareness of OER has increased, with 25% of faculty reporting that they were “Aware” or “Very Aware” of open educational resources, up from 20% last year.
  • Only 5.3% of courses are using open textbooks (includes public domain and Creative Commons licensed).
  • Large enrollment introductory undergraduate courses have adopted openly licensed OpenStax College textbooks at twice the rate (10%) as openly licensed textbooks among all courses.
  • The most common factor cited by faculty when selecting educational resources was the cost to the students. After cost, the next most common was the comprehensiveness of the resource, followed by how easy it was to find.
  • There is a serious disconnect between how many faculty consider a factor in selecting educational resources and how satisfied they are with the state of that factor. Faculty are least satisfied with the cost of textbooks, yet that is the most commonly listed factor for why they select resources.
  • The barriers to adopting OER most often cited by faculty are that “there are not enough resources for my subject” (49%), it is “too hard to find what I need” (48%) and “there is no comprehensive catalog of resources” (45%).

Both Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education covered this release and included additional interviews with co-author Jeff Seaman. Continue reading

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Blackboard Learn Ultra: Ready or not?

At this year’s BbWorld16 users conference, Blackboard’s new executive team demonstrated their ability to deliver a much tighter, more coherent message of what they are learning from talking to customers and what the focus of the company will be in the next few years. The “1 Learn, 2 Experiences (Original and Ultra), and 3 Deployments (Self-Hosted, Managed-Hosted, and SaaS)” meme is an example. Words are easy to come by, however, and Blackboard leadership needs to back up their claims, particularly with the Learn LMS and particularly with the long-delayed Learn Ultra.

Michael described the challenges that Blackboard and its new CEO Bill Ballhaus face back in January, with this comment about Learn Ultra [emphasis added]:

Prove that Ultra is real: While there are customers who will not be quick to move off of 9.x (for a variety of reasons), nobody believes that the current platform represents a compelling future for digital learning environments. It is long in the tooth. But schools evaluating LMSs have largely discounted Ultra because they don’t think it’s real and they’re not convinced that it ever will be. Now that the product is a year late, they have increased reason to be skeptical. We have heard that there are schools piloting Ultra, but I am not aware of any public information about how these pilots are going or even which schools are participating. Blackboard needs to ship Ultra and trot out some customers who are willing to speak publicly about their experiences with it. If they fail, they will not get a do-over.

While this inaccurate claim came from the previous executive team, and while I have heard nothing but positive reviews from Blackboard staff about the new CEO, this does not mean that previous claims are irrelevant. And the issue is not what Blackboard told us at e-Literate, it is more what they have told or not told the higher education (and K-12) communities. Continue reading

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About The Blackboard Partnership With IBM And Amazon Web Services

Leading into BbWorld16, Blackboard’s annual users conference in the air conditioned bunker of The Venetian in Las Vegas, the company announced that they were partnering with IBM.

Blackboard Inc. and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a collaborative agreement for IBM to manage Blackboard’s datacenters and cloud infrastructure. The two companies will also work together to develop innovative educational solutions, taking advantage of IBM Watson’s cognitive computing technology and Blackboard’s broad capabilities suite.

Under the agreement, IBM will manage much of Blackboard’s technology infrastructure, including the company’s 28 global data centers and its existing public cloud footprint. IBM will also provide support for Blackboard’s expanding use of the public cloud. Blackboard will leverage IBM’s expertise and software to offer customers some of the most flexible, reliable, security-rich and resilient environments available.

What the initial press release did not capture, and what has become quite apparent at BbWorld16, is that this is really a three-way partnership between Blackboard, IBM, and Amazon (for Amazon Web Services, or AWS). Peter George, Blackboard’s SVP of Products, noted this critical distinction in his blog post “Partnering with AWS and IBM for cloud services and infrastructure management”. Continue reading

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Personalized Learning Explainer: Teaching to the Back Row

Phil and I are pleased to share our first animated explainer on personalized learning:

If it feels like a commercial that could have been produced by a textbook publisher or ed tech vendor, that is entirely intentional. We hope that they will actively promote this video (and the successor that we will be publishing in the next couple of weeks). We are giving them tools they will (hopefully) want to use that move the focus away from product bells and whistles and toward teaching challenges. This attempt at jujitsu is worth some unpacking.

Continue reading

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UC Davis Lessons: Open is as open does

It’s interesting how one phrase can cause such a reaction.

There is an interesting angle here in that Sakai is open source yet data is not easily recoverable.

This comment came from the original post discussing UC Davis’ SmartSite disaster when their Sakai hosting partner Scriba botched a data center move, leading to a university of 32,000+ students going without a fully-functional LMS for the last three weeks of a term, including finals week. If you want the full run-down, read that linked post then look at additional posts in this list for the basics.[1]

What did I mean with this comment?

Simply that this outage would give us a chance in reality to get a better understanding of the dynamics of open source solutions and whether the university in question would actually have achieved the ability to “control its destiny”. The early indications at the time were that UC Davis would not be able to make the course data from their LMS fully available to faculty and students before the end of the term. A full analysis of the causes and implications of the situation needed more information on what led to the outage, what UC Davis had in their contract with Scriba, and how the end of the term would play out. But even before that analysis, the comment was also based on the likely market perceptions.

What did I not mean? Continue reading

  1. SmartSite is the UC Davis branding for their LMS, which was hosted at the time by Scriba, a Sakai Commercial Affiliate. []
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