Friday, November 06, 2009

Has Blackboard outlived its shelf-life?

Realtime Yesterday we cobbled together carefully crafted an abstract for the 10th Durham Blackboard Users' Conference based on our experience that the impact the realtime web and the proliferation of communication channels is having on VLEs. In short, they have killed the VLE as a communication channel, and conversation (as opposed to nagging students by email) has moved elsewhere.

In that light, it was interesting to read a post by David Crotty (describing thoughts from Mark Cuban) which argues that participation in and the shelf-life of online discussions are inversely related. Our observations, ranging from The Apprentice to ALT-C, certainly seem to support the hypothesis. The VLE is no longer a contact sport. Rather, it has become the box through which a multiplex of channels make it onto the screens of the punters (or don't, as the case may be).

It's now perfectly possible for me to embed a Wave in Blackboard, although in reality, I'd be far more likely to embed some of the functionality of Blackboard (maybe the Gradebook) in a Wave. The conversations around learning are becoming ever more fragmented, and as they do so, participation becomes ever harder to measure.