Category Archives: Current Affairs

Notre Dame wants to get to know a Sakai developer – is that you?

Shameless plug for a Learning Management Developer (One Year Limited Term) …

Sunrise over St. Mary's lake, late summer...Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame

Sunrise over St. Mary’s lake, late summer…Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame

You should come work for the Office of Information Technologies. And here’s why –

The University of Notre Dame ranks 9th among “Best Places to Work in IT” for the third year running. 

We were cool before that, but lately it’s official.

We have a one year contract position open for a senior developer for Sakai. Are you scared to apply?

If you’re experienced, you could be married, you could have children. You’re probably comfortable where you are. A one year contract? Are you kidding?

No. I’m not kidding. Come to Notre Dame. Plan on staying. I did. I’ve been here 17 years. That initial one year contract was an opportunity for Notre Dame to get to know the values I hold, the work ethic I bring, my extraordinary creativity, not to mention that I always think strategically. (Like this post – we have great talent at Notre Dame, but we want to add to our talent pool, to seek out and convince the best talent).

They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s me. Is it you too?

Apply. Check it out. What’ve you got to lose? The posting:


Summit Timed Announcements–Monday’s News

Just to recap for those of us sitting at home while colleagues text, tweet, mail, and blog Monday’s happenings from Las Vegas …

It’s not at all odd if you think about it that most of those announcements come from a SunGard partner, oops, a Datatel+SGHE, oops again! – I mean an Ellucian partner , the LMS provider, Blackboard.

SunGard –drats! I did it again, I mean,  Ellucian , after all, has partnerships with LMS providers around the IMS Global Consortium standard, LIS 2.0 , which is behind the Banner Event Publisher or BEP (affectionally pronounced beep ) and it’s new eLearning tool (a flexUI built upon Oracle streams). So yes, Blackboard and others often time marketing announcements around the annual Summit conference.

Monday’s announcements from Blackboard include a new division, new acquisitions, a new employee of the month, and that ANGEL, contrary to the previous WebCT LMS acquisition, will not in fact be decommissioned and blended in with the favored in-house LMS – Blackboard Learn.

I guess the timing is good. Although you’re probably noting a certain tinge of cynicism as I write. It’s not cynism about Blackboard or Ellucian as much as a weariness, a true bone-crunching weariness, with the churn created by the velocity of market change we’ve been experiencing for what? a year or two now?

I’m trying to have a good attitude. Change up all at once and get it over with, right? Wake up one morning and find a complete plot twist. Blackboard is wearing the white hat. Ellucian rolls off the tongue much easier than Datatel+SGHE or Illusion or Delusion – and hopefully I’m not succumbing to either of those…. Sakai community founder Dr. Chuck (Severance) now to work for Blackboard, newly boosted as GoodGuys, and still sporting his indelible, recently augmented, tattoo with Sakai at the center of the known universe . Oh, I get it now!

If you don’t get it too, start here:

PS. Obviously the Star Trek metaphor for Blackboard as the Borg, or the “BlackBorg” doesn’t work anymore. Giulia Forsythe (@giuliaforsythe) put the news in Star Wars language  on Twitter, “In other news, The Empire buys The Jedi Academy; will help support training in The Force.”

Why the Startup Weekend at Notre Dame’s Innovation Park Excites Me

54 hours. Friday April 13th at 6pm until Sunday April 15th at 3pm. Go home to sleep when/if they kick us out or you just can’t think another thought.

What we hope to accomplish: Lay the groundwork to start one or more new businesses in South Bend. Period.

What participants get paid: Nada. In fact, tickets to the event are $99.

Who will be the participants?

People like me. Really. People who care about our community and want to give back of our talents and creativity. People who can envision their satisfaction when driving by that new area business and being able to say, “I helped do that. I had a hand in designing their business model.” (Or coding their product, or designing their user experience or marketing their business).

People not like me. Some younger. Those testing their wings as entrepreneurs during their college careers at IU South Bend, Notre Dame, IU Purdue, and Bethel, all local area colleges. (Students only $50). Some older. Community Leaders. Businessmen who’ve done it already. Captains of Industry, if you will.

If you catch what I mean, click and register. See you there!

Buying Blackboard : Speculation Continues

It was in Twitterland that I heard the April 19th announcement that Blackboard was contracting with Barclays Capital to respond to non-binding offers to buy. And that’s all that Blackboard press release said and all it said it would ever said. But it did say offers plural. At the end of this listing will be sources so far who’ve engaged in this entertaining speculation.

My own speculations are informed by

  • the April 14th, just prior, release from Blackboard, to whit, McGraw-Hill and Blackboard Launch Combined Course Solution Worldwide.
  • a phone interview with OpenView Venture Partners who recently invested in Instructure.
  • the fact that 700 current Blackboard clients must change their LMS to stay current, and not necessarily stay with Blackboard. (Casey mentions this too).
  • oodles of reading. Check out those articles below.

Unlike Green and Kim, I think the bidders are not investment firms but companies who either are capitalized well enough to sustain a long term evolution into the educational space and have already indicated a desire to do so  (Microsoft or Google, as Kim suggests) or companies who are already firmly entrenched in the higher education market (SunGard or even Oracle) and may already have versions of their own of the Blackboard product types (analytics, notification, point-of-sale, content management).

Kenneth C. Green (aka Casey Green), InsideHigher Ed Blog U:

Josh Kim, InsideHigherEd, Blog U:

Eric Savitz, Forbes:

Jerry Bishop, The Higher Ed CIO,

William J Raduchel, Resignation Letter, Board of Directors, Blackboard. Feb. 14, 2011

Michael Feldstein, e-Literate, latest as of this date  (but read priors as well)

Phil Hill, Delta Initiative, and

iStrategy clients receive Blackboard letter

I logged in over at again today to see Vicki’s follow-up.

Vicki has posted a letter purported to be that which iStrategy clients are receiving from Michael Chasen at Blackboard notifying them of the acquisition of iStrategy by Blackboard. Here is the link so that you can go read her account yourself (I believe account creation is necessary):

Full text available here without logging in:

Blackboard adding to its portfolio

Still no press releases to confirm Vicki Tambellini’s 12/30/2011 post that Blackboard has purchased data modeling/tools/analytics company, iStrategy Solutions. The price is rumored to be $12.5 million plus $1.5 million worth of Blackboard stock.

Also potentially in the works (or is it already a done deal?), the acquisition of Presidium, a provider of 24/7 support for learning management systems.

How my work might change: does open source require more FTEs to support?

(How my work might change if Notre Dame chose Sakai as its next LMS)

No. No. And no. These are the repeated answers echoing from those who’ve switched from a proprietary LMS (or whatever three letter acronym we choose) to an open source LMS. (And pipe up here if you’re one of them. Tell us your story. Tell us why?).

Then come the caveats. These are worth exploring. Especially in my shoes.

  1. With open source, you can choose how much change you’re willing to invest in.
  2. With open source, you can choose how much ‘give-back’ to the community your institution is tuned for.

About #1. Institutions find it an attractive proposition that open source would enable them to enhance functionality and/or fix bugs on their own schedule and frequency, thus making them more responsive to the Academy’s needs than they were when using a proprietary system.  Can Notre Dame afford to be more responsive to the Academy than we had the option of being with a proprietary LMS?

Now you have options. You can still eat the same cooking everyone else eats. Or, you can cook your own. Cooking your own will take more developer resources. Maybe your Academy wishes the Gradebook you gave them did this ‘n such that-a-way instead? Maybe central IT can tell them they’d be happy to install their departmental version of the Gradebook if they will build it themselves? (You very shortly would be able to tell them that while still using a proprietary LMS, given the adoption of the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standard, but I digress…).

I think Notre Dame at this juncture in time would choose to provide the same level of support and maintenance as previously, and that means that we can bite off maybe adding one to two tool integrations a year. At least initially, we would not necessarily be any more responsive to our Academy’s growing needs.

About #2.

If you choose to cook your own, well then, you might as well make that flavor of the widget available to the entire extended community as well. More home cooked meals = more FTEs. Period. Your choice.

For my part, logic compels me to want an open source solution only if it comes with FTE’s to start Notre Dame’s own CookBook.