Blackboard, the market-leading provider of learning management systems to higher education, has just announced that they’ve been granted a patent for pretty much the entire field.
I’ve long been suspicious of proprietary LMS tools, particularly with regards to the way that they can lock away academic knowledge. In particular, I think that their encroachment into the Higher Education system has contributed greatly to the Academy’s decline in social relevance and slow transformation into a mass of corporate think-tanks. But what this patent means that it’s going to become harder—using the terminology of the network—to route around the damage, or, in other words, to use communication technologies that might create other ways of learning and sharing knowledge.
I’ve got some thoughts that I want to put together on the highly free-market capitalist discourse of ‘innovation’ and how it might be bent to progressive ends. Expect something soon. Ish.