Questioning the Logic Behind the Anthology and Blackboard Deal

4 replies
  1. Ian Wright
    Ian Wright says:

    From a twenty year Australian perspective, I think you’ve provided an excellent summary of the salient points here, Phil. From IBM Learnspace, through WebCT, Blackboard CE, Moodle, Brightspace, Canvas et al I’ve been on a long journey. Blackboard has always been a case of lots of promise over very slow and usually underwhelming delivery of features while other more agile competitors have chipped away at their market. Crazy distractions like their (ultimately abandoned) attempt to patent the core LMS concept added to the HE sector’s distrust, and underpinned the perception that Blackboard wanted to own (read control) the known universe. This latest ‘merger’ reeks of a similar mindset – you are spot-on when you question how much institutions are really crying out for a fully integrated solution across so many of their business activities.

    In my experience, we always went for best-of-breed combinations and the two really critical considerations were appropriateness of the product for our pedagogical culture and the capacity of the product to enable integration with our other best-of-breed choices and core infrastructure. So, Moodle and Canvas became LMS choices, along with Zoom and products like H5P to enhance the learner/academic experience. Note that all of the products I’ve mentioned have demonstrated development agility and configurability in a complex technology environment. I don’t see a great future for the newly merged Blackboard/Anthology entity in HE. Oh yes, and have we all forgotten that dreaded ‘bete noir’ of the past, ‘vendor lock-in’. Rarely have I seen that deliver real benefits long term!

  2. Dan Parker
    Dan Parker says:

    What concerns me, being a small private that is *extremely* budget-conscious given the past 18 months, is that certain decision makers may look at this from a cost perspective (which you touch on in the “buying communities” paragraph). In other words, you can get car insurance from State Farm and home insurance from Progressive, but both are probably going to offer you a more streamlined total cost if you “bundle” them together… even if the other company’s offering isn’t exactly what you need. I suspect this is going to be a big part of the sales pitch going forward: bundle and save!

    Your point about SIS being a long lifecycle is important, as well. While we use Anthology’s Campus Labs, we use Ellucian Colleague for SIS. That system touches so many other things–including our LMS user/course/enrollment management–that to try to change that system mid-stream would be, in a word, asinine.

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