Earlier this year I moved away from the management of our Blackboard system to full-time being busy with OpenCourseWare. Today Blackboard announced that they are following me in the direction of Open Education:
Blackboard Inc. today announced a series of new initiatives to provide greater support for open education efforts. Working with Creative Commons, Blackboard will now support publishing, sharing and consumption of open educational resources (OER) across its platforms. The company also updated its policy confirming the ability for education institutions to serve non-traditional users with Blackboard Learn™ without incurring additional license costs.
There are two parts to this story. First of all Blackboard changed the license of Blackboard Learn. In the license the institution doesn't have to pay for users that are participating in open education:
- Non-enrolled students participating in non-revenue generating, non-credit bearing courses or community outreach programs
- Individuals who are not students, faculty or employees of the client institution participating in academic or research collaboration sponsored by that institution
- Individuals accessing the Software through guest access accounts or “guest” role designations
This removes the barriere that existed in offering an Open Course via Blackboard, such as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).
The second part is the possibility to easily share your course with a creative commons license:
One key to Blackboard’s new “Share” feature is a partnership with Creative Commons, which offers licenses for free content. When professors choose to make their courses free, they will be presented with options to easily attach a Creative Commons license, something they otherwise would have to do manually.
I'm certainly interested in this part. But also a little relectant. It gives instructors the possibility to publish their own course as an open course. Although this in general is good, in my experience an instructor usually need some instruction and guidance for publishing open course. Especially with the intellectual property of the content. As an institution you also need some policy around open education.
I'm very glad that Blackboard is joining the Open Education movement and hopefully a lot of new institutions will also join. I would recommand to join the OpenCourseWare Consortium (yes, I'm biased ;-) )
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