My Blackboard Open Source Post: A Correction

I screwed up.

My recent post about Blackboard’s moves into open source was a particularly challenging one to organize coherently. While wrestling with that, I failed to give my usual attention to the tone. As a result of that oversight, I communicated a substantially different message than the one that I intended to communicate. I don’t believe in rewriting my posts after they are published (unless it’s on the level of a typo fix), because I believe in being accountable for what I have posted. So instead, I have inserted a short correction notice into the original post and will issue a longer one here.

The problem can be best illustrated with the T-shirt that I placed into the post:

There is a story behind that shirt. It was a gift. While at the Open Ed conference, Blackboard employees George Kroner and Jarl Jonas generously offered to walk me through the details surrounding some recent announcements about Blackboard’s support for OER in CourseSites. As I wrote in a subsequent blog post based on the information I got from George and Jarl, my conclusion was that Blackboard had made a sincere and substantial contribution to the advancement of OERs. At the end of the conversation the two gentlemen, I mentioned that I have a T-shirt from every major LMS except Blackboard. The one pictured here was kindly sent to me by George in response. Even a casual glance at it shows that it is not an official Blackboard T-shirt. I interpreted it as something created by the employees as an expression of affection for Ray’s personal investment in their openness effort. That’s what it meant to me and that’s what made me think of posting it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t provide that context in the post. Along with my text, it easily could have been interpreted as a suggestion that Ray is trying to hog the limelight. Anybody who knows him even a little bit would not find that credible. I did not mean to suggest that Ray was looking to take credit for the open source move. Rather, I meant to suggest that he is looking to claim responsibility for it. I interpret him as saying, roughly, “To the degree that I’ve earned your trust, please trust me on this. I am personally invested in it.” He wasn’t bragging, nor was he slamming other Blackboard executives. So, my bad for not writing clearly.

Ray wrote me a respectful and entirely appropriate email calling my attention to the passage in question. He took particular pains to emphasize that the T-shirt was not a Blackboard PR effort intended for external audiences, but rather “a humorous element of our cocktail party.” I do get push-back about my posts by their subjects from time to time and only feel compelled to respond when the objection has merit. This one did.

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About Michael Feldstein

Michael Feldstein is co-Publisher of e-Literate, co-Producer of e-Literate TV, and Partner in MindWires Consulting. For more information, see his profile page.
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One Response to My Blackboard Open Source Post: A Correction

  1. Ray Henderson says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Michael. It speaks to what your readers so appreciate about your care to inform them well, and be clear to separate your analysis from facts. And you’ve nailed the tone I intended to impart on your revision.


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