Saturday, March 01, 2008

Blackboard Next Generation

From the Canadian Blackboard Users Group online conference yesterday, I learned some interesting announcements coming out of Blackboard. Of course this is after the court case ruling in Blackboard's favour in the patent suit against Desire 2 Learn.
  • Blackboard classic version 8.0 was released last Fall and this Spring Vista and Campus Edition (former WebCT products) version 8.0 will be released. These editions are not much different then proceeding versions but this action will synchronize the version numbers of the three products.
  • The real interest part of this is that Bb is promising the release of Blackboard 9.0 before the end of 2008. This is the Next Generation edition that will have significant differences from previous version AND this is the version that finally merges the two former WebCT products with the classic Blackboard product. From the little they showed of the mockups, this product will have a whole new look, feel and new features. The timing of this release means that many schools will be testing this release out in the first half of 2009 and considering upgrading to it in the Summer of 2009, or not.
  • My jury is still out if this is good and bad news. The new is good in that now we know what is planned. But could be bad because most schools may not be able to afford the new product. It promises to deliver all of the Web2.0 functionality that we are looking for but it seems to me that most of these features will be distributed in the suite of modules that Bb offers. At most schools, they just run the one core module and can't afford the extra modules.
  • I have a meeting with a Bb representative this coming week so I will raise these concerns to him and report back here.

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