Blogging the blackboard patent explanation – part 1

I’m listening to Matt Small right now talking about the blackboard patent in a webex seminar. It’s the first of three such talks.

http://www.blackboard.com/patent/FAQ2 the links to the conversations are on the right hand side of this conversation

He’s started by describing what a patent is, and explaining the difference between dependent and independant claims. He’s saying that unless you fall under one of the indedpendent claims you don’t need to worry about a patent. And that blackboard isn’t patenting white boards etc…

Is this patent any good? Involves a number of different things. prior art etc.

People are saying that blackboard is claiming to have invented chatrooms etc… and that they have seen other things with chatrooms, therefore there is prior art.
“We did alot of due diligence. (blackboard did) we are not aware of any prior art ”

“single user can have multiple roles across multiple courses. before us, each course was an island onto itself. although there was some central databasing that pulled it together… for the most part, if you were in two classes, you had a different logon different calendar for each class. You needed to replicate for each class.”
“we took a gamble, to change our architecture to allow members to change their roles from student to instructor, from class to class, under the same login”

Blackboards intent

“this is an isolated lawsuit between two competitors. We are not focusing on universities, professors, students, open source etc…”

My question “is it possible to get a legal guarantee protecting OS software?”

we’d need to sit down with the OS community, and it might be worse for them if we did that. We might entertain this as a solution. (not direct quote) “I’m not saying that there isn’t a potential”
“it is difficult for a patent holder that is in litigation that “i will not do X with my patent” because it would devalue the worth of the patent.”

SAP… comes from a tree? no. thingy you hit people with?

Just talking to Michael Hotrum on the phone, and he says to me “yeah… what about SAP?” Dave stares blankly at the screen. What’s that dave says? And i check out michael’s website and find this link.

I’m a very naive person. Can’t wait ’till Feldstein and Essa come on the show to tell me how to feel better for myself.

Open Source in Higher Ed – The Courant Report

I realize that many of you have probably seen this, but, man oh man, the 26th of July was a busy day. This report should be the lynchpin of any argument for open source in higher education. It addresses many of the main concerns that people have about OSS, refutes many of the misconceptions about TPO (total price of ownership) and… well… here are a few bits

Here is a link to the report

  • We believe that software projects (both in higher education and more generally) work best when there is claer mutual understanding between the users and the developers regarding how the software is to be used and what is important for it to accomplish. The success of many community-based open source projects derives from just such a confluence. p. 23
  • (1)Commercial products are often not well tailored to higher education… (2) College and university leaders are concerned that consolidation could result in commercial vendors having excessive leverage to raise prices for the software used in higher education… (3)Commercial software tends to require frequent and costly upgrades… upgrades that are more frequesnt than would have been chosen and that have functionality that differs from what the customer would most value. p. 9.
  • Crucially, the supply and demand sides are present in OSS projects from the beginning via the developers themselves. This is a feature of the Moodle example, in which the founder, Martin Dougiamas, is both a programmer and an educator, and thus was able to execute his particular visi9on of what course management software would do. p. 21.
  • We have good reason to believe to believe that universities and colleges could collectively produce open source software that meets their needs better than commercial products.p.22 (added – it was too sweet not to edit in)

Not all the report makes such a glowing report of the possibilities for OSS. There is a section, for instance, that suggests that for mission critical systems like payroll, CIOs would prefer having a company that they could sue if the software failed. A quick response to this of course, is that if you have hired a services company to support your open source software, then you have someone to sue, but that neither here nor there.

For those of us who’ve been looking for nice, solid research that supports the positions we already hold ourselves, about open source being a perfectly fine, safe reasonable option, I advise the following

  1. chill fine belgian beer
  2. open and pour in nice glass
  3. read article
  4. smile in a satisfied manner
  5. repeat 1-4 as needed

EURODL – Edublogging as research… i love it.

warning – dave is feeling a little tickled with himself today… humour him please. that is all.

I always pay a little closer attention to my stats numbers at the start of the month as they are a little easier to navigate through (they update monthly on the package that i usually use). I came across this article from the European Journal of Open, Distance and E-learning.

  • English AbstractThe article argues that it is necessary to move e-learning beyond learning management systems and engage students in an active use of the web as a resource for their self-governed, problem-based and collaborative activities. The purpose of the article is to discuss the potential of social software to move e-learning beyond learning management systems. An approach to use of social software in support of a social constructivist approach to e-learning is presented, and it is argued that learning management systems do not support a social constructivist approach which emphasizes self-governed learning activities of students. The article suggests a limitation of the use of learning management systems to cover only administrative issues. Further, it is argued that students’ self-governed learning processes are supported by providing students with personal tools and engaging them in different kinds of social networks.

If you scroll down and check out the references, you’ll notice this little blog hangin’ out with some of the cool guys of the edubloggypodonlineosphere.

All referenced for the work they’ve been doing on their blogs. Partially for a conversation we all got into a few months ago around the long-term viability of LMSs. It opposes many of the views I’ve seen from some people at my University and many people elsewhere that blogging is the province of the lunatic fringe. That does not, of course, mean that all blogs are interesting, factual or useful to a large number of people… just that they can be.

As for a review of the article itself? Let me read it a few more times.

woohoo.