I heard from a few of my education friends after posting yesterday's report from Blackboard World. To be honest, several asked point blank what I was thinking to take a positive stand on this particular acquisition development in higher education learning tech. I know that some were surprised because I have been such an Adobe fangirl in recent years. (And yes, it's true. I am a great fan of Adobe Connect.) Some remembered my own challenges working to get Adobe products better integrated within the various WebCT and Blackboard platforms, and frankly asked me if I have lost my mind. And perhaps I have. But I do have a reason for this particular stand.
Here is my position on the subject. In my mind, there is no question that Adobe Connect is a great conferencing product. I think it's the best one out there. The challenge though, is that a good education product that lives in a non-educationally focused company doesn't get the enterprise, sales or customer service support that are essential for successful and sustained adoption.
I would LOVE to see the rock-star Adobe .edu team leverage this with the AdobeConnect product team (hint, hint, hint). But this is where my cynicism kicks in. I just have a few too many battle scars from fighting that good fight to have much hope for that.
And so I look for silver linings. With all respect to those who want to build open systems and find open resources, sometimes its just really important to have the option of a dependable integrated product that pulls all the pieces together for those us us that don't want to "roll our own" education technology. Does that mean that I think people should rush out and buy? Well, only after you've done your due diligence and if it makes sense. Mostly what I want is for people to take a deep breath and consider alternatives for getting their work done reliably and effectively. That demands choice. There ARE choices.
(Some positive news for those that are still freaking....I have heard here is that Elluminate and Wimba - the new Collaborate platform will continue to be available independently from Blackboard Learn.)
This year’s conference provides over 20 workshops and events on
Wednesday, August 4th, many focused on higher education issues, followed
by over 130 concurrent sessions and special events on Thursday and
Friday, August 5th & 6th. You may access a PDF of this year’s
Conference Program, sign up for future mailings, follow on Facebook and
Twitter, and register for the conference from the Web site.
I personally like that it takes place in Madison Wisconsin. As an alum of the real UW,X2, I always like a reason to go back and visit. I also love Madison in the summer, so August 4 - 6 is a great time to be there. (bratwurst and beer on the Terrace overlooking Lake Monona...priceless!)
But the main reason I like to go is that I always get such a good look at what is happening in the various facets of academic distance learning, which as most people who follow higher education know is going through an explosion of mainstream adoption. Even the University of California has discovered the online university!! It's different that what happens at a policy-and-practice event like the one hosted by WCET (this year - LaJolla, CA, November 2010) More focused on things that matter for distance learning than EDUCAUSE. More pragmatic than Sloan's research or emerging tech conferences.
Several of my colleagues from WCET will be there to tell people about Transparency by Design, a project of the Presidents' Forum funded by the Lumina Foundation, to create a data driven, consumer oriented website comparing post-secondary universities
from the for-profit sector, not-for-profit sector and public sector for prospective students looking to evaluate and compare online learning institutions.
If you DO plan to go to the conference, don't wait too long to get registered and get your hotel room booked if you want to overlook the lake.