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Author: dkoontz Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 199  
Subject: Re: doomed? Date: 3/16/2008 2:55 PM
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I'm not sure I buy the argument. I think their software may be a bit more complicated than you are giving it credit for.

I've used Blackboard, and I am NO FAN of their user experience! I think 1980's text based board - not 21 century state of the art web 2.0 experience. The students (the digital natives) will recoil at this poor user interface. However the decision makers (the administrator & professors - the digital immigrants) may find the clunky UI acceptable and even "good" because of its step by step drill-down behavior.

So the company has a complex environment to navigate, appeal to the decision makers (digital immigrants) and be useful to the students (digital natives) and useful to the faculty (digital immigrants) without incurring the wrath of users for poor user experience.

I think _some_ of the people (professors) are the self-reliant, kind of people who can find and use open source software to solve their own problems. However we are talking about an institutionally integrated piece of software here. It must link into the grading system, the billing system, the course catalog, the libraries reservation system, etc. One or a few professors, can not make that work on their own, the software must integrate with existing systems and therefor requires the support of the administration and IT services.

I'm also not convinced that the typical decision maker can comfortably "buy" an open source product. Having been in the higher education business world in the past, myself, it was very difficult to enlighten the decision makers to the _total_cost_of_ownership_ of a product. And the thought of "free" was so counter intuitive that they could not even consider the thought. They will have to have "support" contracts, because digital immigrants must have their hands held by an authority when dealing with a technical support issue.

Being first in the market space is always an advantage, keeping the advantage is most important, that requires innovation. Does Blackboard have this ability?
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