Blackboard blacks out with patent claims
The recent patent awared to Blackboard on e-Learning Technology shakes the industry and is another example of "how stupid can it get with patents on software?". But this one touches one of my core working areas. Good ol' Stephen Jones breaks it down nicely. What to do know? Plenty!
(1) First contact all the politicans You can get access to and tell them, that this is another example of stupidity and NOT GOOD FOR ECONOMY AND EMPLOYMENT (only thing they understand)
(2) Tell everyone with a faint interest in software dev or entrepreneurship or a brain about this personally. Discuss it!
(3) Contribute to the Moodle page about Online Learning history or the Wiki page.
And then… just create something better than plain virtual learning environments as described in Blackboard's "patent", which covers according to Jay Cross:
"A course-based system for providing to an educational community of users access to a plurality of online courses, comprising: a) a plurality of user computers, with each user computer being associated with a user of the system and with each user being capable of having predefined characteristics indicative of multiple predetermined roles in the system, each role providing a level of access to a plurality of data files associated with a particular course and a level of control over the data files associated with the course with the multiple predetermined user roles comprising at least two user’s predetermined roles selected from the group consisting of a student role in one or more course associated with a student user, an instructor role in one or more courses associated with an instructor user and an administrator role associated with an administrator user, and b) a server computer in communication with each of the user computers over a network, the server computer comprising: means for storing a plurality of data files associated with a course, means for assigning a level of access to and control of each data file based on a user of the system’s predetermined role in a course; means for determining whether access to a data file associated with the course is authorized; means for allowing access to and control of the data file associated with the course if authorization is granted based on the access level of the user of the system."
I mean, take out "course" and it sounds awfully like Groupware or Content Management System. Probably everyone doing research in E-Learning has implemented such a system before 1999 (This is a Publication from me 1995 about a system I used 1993 and 1994 in a vocational school with Netscape 0.9x.)!
While Jay is patenting "Learning", I think he shots too short. I will patent "Thinking"!
To quote some nice movie: "Good night and good luck!!"