15 July 2010

Tech Note: Blackboard's new Collaborate tool

Spending no time comparing the product names Adobe Connect and Blackboard Collaborate, this blog entry is about the recent announcement of Blackboard's purchase of Elluminate and Wimba, arguably the most affordable of the webconferencing platforms used in education. Note: I don't receive any compensation from the companies mentioned here.

Blackboard has purchased other companies before and will surely buy more, in future. To buy two of the same type, at the same time, draws special attention, especially from the companies' current clients. Forum discussion at LearnCentral is example. LearnCentral is the virtual community of Elluminute users. Some of those users are at institutions that subscribe to Elluminate; others come to the space as individual customers of vRooms, the free 3-person meeting spaces; still others are paying customers of vOffice, which offers meeting spaces for 10+ people at a couple of hundred bucks per year.

It's the holders of free accounts speaking up first. They wonder how long it will take Bb to shut down their access to the Elluminate tools as Collaborate takes shape, this worry emerging amid corporate assurances of "no immediate changes." Suspicion about future access increases as LearnCentral reps in the forum respond to questions with the ominous words, "hopefully" and "I am hopeful." The promise of plenty of advance notice of future changes doesn't add to anyone's sense of security.

Blackboard's expansion of products has been steady over the past decade. Adding web-conference capability was an expected next step. And the success of Elluminate and Wimba in creating synchronous online classrooms makes Bb's interest in them understandable.

Expected and understandable pretty much sums up the situation. What comes next? I'd guess that dimdim and similar platforms will inherit some of the "free" users of Elluminate. And Adobe Connect Now's free 3-user space may be adopted by a lot more people.

© 2010 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (http://www.marybold.com/, http://www.boldproductions.com/, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

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