Blackboard’s Perceptis Acquisition Offers Clues into Company’s Strategy

Yesterday Blackboard announced that they acquired Perceptis, a provider of help desk and financial aid support services for colleges and universities. In and of itself, this is not a huge acquisition. Perceptis has 33 clients, offers services that Blackboard was already offering, and has no substantial new technology. But as we approach BbWorld next week, the move provides some early hints into the strategic direction that the company may highlight at the conference.

I had the opportunity to talk with Blackboard’s Vice President of Education Services Katie Blot about the move.

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Roundtable Discussion on Integrative Education July 9th at 2pm EDT

Tomorrow, July 9th at 2:00pm EDT, I’ll join a great cast to discuss Reinvent the University for the Whole Person: Principles Driving Policy, and I hope many of you can watch. The other participants:

  • Randy Bass (Vice Provost for Education and Professor of English at Georgetown University)
  • Martha Kanter (Distinguished Visiting Professor of Higher Education at New York University & former U.S. Under Secretary of Education)
  • Robert Groves (Provost at Georgetown University)
  • Jeffrey Selingo (Author of College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students)
  • Tia Brown McNair (Senior Director for Student Success at the Association of American Colleges & Universities)
  • Anthony Carnevale (Director of the Center on Education & the Workforce at Georgetown University)


The core idea for the series: Continue reading

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Instructure’s CTO Joel Dehlin Abruptly Resigns

One week after the conclusion of Instructure’s Users’ Conference, CTO Joel Dehlin abruptly resigned from the company for a new job. Joel took the CTO job with Instructure in summer 2013, around the same time as Devlin Daley’s departure (Devlin was co-founder). Joel’s resignation comes as a surprise, especially given his prominent placement as the technology lead for the Canvas LMS. As recently as InstructureCon on June 27th, Joel gave the product update presentation.

The change became apparent by viewing the new Instructure leadership page (nice page design, btw), as I noticed that Joel was not included. I contacted Devin Knighton, Director of Public Relations for Instructure, who confirmed that the resignation was unexpected and was Joel’s decision. I am not sure how significant this resignation is for the company. What we do know is that Joel has not been replaced as CTO, but that Jared Stein (VP of Research and Education), Trey Bean (VP of Product), David Burggraaf (VP of Engineering), and Zach Willy (Chief Architect) will cover the CTO responsibilities in the near term. I would have more details, but Devin is on family vacation, and I did not want to push for him to send me an official email.

We’ll keep you posted if we find out more information (assuming it is newsworthy).

Update: Corrected second paragraph on VP of Product and VP of Engineering per Devin Knighton comment below.

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Adaptive Learning Market Acceleration Program (ALMAP) Summer Meeting Notes

I recently attended the ALMAP Summer Meeting. ALMAP is a program funded by the Gates Foundation, with the goals described in this RFP webinar presentation from March 2013:

We believe that well implemented personalized & adaptive learning has the potential to dramatically improve student outcomes

Our strategy to accelerate the adoption of Adaptive Learning in higher education is to invest in market change drivers… …resulting in strong, healthy market growth

As the program is in its mid stage (without real results to speak of yet), I’ll summarize Tony Bates style with summary of program and some notes at the end. Consider this my more-than-140-character response to Glenda Morgan:

Originally planned for 10 institutions, the Gates Foundation funded 14 separate grantees at a level of ~$100,000 each. The courses must run for 3 sequential semesters with greater than 500 students total (per school), and the program will take 24 months total (starting June 2013). The awards were given to the following schools:

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Fall 2012 US Distance Education Enrollment: Now viewable by each state

Starting in late 2013, the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) and its Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) started providing preliminary data for the Fall 2012 term that for the first time includes online education. Using Tableau (thanks to Justin Menard for prompting me to use this), we can now see a profile of online education in the US for degree-granting colleges and university, broken out by sector and for each state.

Please note the following:

  • For the most part distance education and online education terms are interchangeable, but they are not equivalent as DE can include courses delivered by a medium other than the Internet (e.g. correspondence course).
  • There are three tabs below – the first shows totals for the US by sector and by level (grad, undergrad); the second also shows the data for each state (this is new); the third shows a map view.

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