When Blackboard acquired ANGEL back in May of 2009, there was a lot of noise about how the acquisition was going to change the company. I wrote a post then called Three Tests for the 'New' Blackboard, which outlined some indications I was going to be looking for to see whether there was substance behind the hype. The first sign I got that something was changing happened within days (hours?) of my publication of that post, when Ray Henderson publicly accepted my challenge on Twitter. How well have he and Blackboard done since then?
Really well, actually:
- Challenge 1, drop the patent suit: Done. To be honest, I did not expect this to be the first one ticked off the list. But it was. Blackboard and Desire2Learn settled in December of 2009.
- Challenge 2, support IMS Common Cartridge, including export: Done. I wasn't following this too closely, so I don't know exactly when this was released, but some time this year Blackboard provided full support for IMS Common Cartridge, including export.
- Challenge 3, support IMS Learning Information Services: In Progress. Yesterday, Ray Henderson declared in a blog post that Blackboard is "committed to supporting" LIS. To my knowledge, this is the first time that Blackboard has made an unequivocal, public commitment in writing to implement the standard. This declaration has been backed up by activity in the LIS working group that indicates Blackboard is actually taking steps to implement the specification.
If Blackboard succeeds in implementing LIS by the 2011 IMS Learning Impact conference, then Ray will have met all three challenges within 24 months of coming to Blackboard. That's pretty impressive.
Update: I received an email response to this post from Ray (who is at an IMS meeting today), which I reprint in part here with his permission:
- Common Cartridge: we actually have NOT shipped this, just demo'd it. My public statement was to show progress at the 2 IMS meetings this year, and ship by end of year. We're on target for that.
- IMS Basic LTI: this was another area I clarified earlier--that we'd ship LTI. We got conformance cert at this meeting. And so we'll ship that too, by end of year.
Related story: I mentioned in my blog a mega relationship between Bb and McGraw. We really are using basic LTI as a production technology -- and one for a major strategic partner -- in 2011. Adoption is key, and I'm delighted to see it brewing up.