I just read the news about Blackboard this morning. Blackboard, "a company that designs an education software for school groups, has acquired mobile messaging provider Saf-T Net for $33 million. Saf-T-Net develops AlertNow, which is a mobile messaging technology aimed to the K-12 marketplace."
Great, buy more bells and whistles, corner the education market, and spread even more joyless technology to the K-12's.
Can't someone work on attractive interfaces for Blackboard? This company has been a monopoly way too long. Where's Steve Jobs when we need him? Before I will be happy using Blackboard in my classes, it needs to have a user-friendly appeal that inspires me to learn not hide. Right now, Blackboard sends the opposite educational message from the one I want. It seems stern, unrelenting, proprietary to the point of extreme micro-managing of my life. It seems to be spying on me, not inspiring me. There is little room for creativity and who, looking at that dreary interface, has any interest in being creative.
Is there anyone else out there who agrees with me and believes Blackboard doesn't deserve to be a virtual educational monopoly? Talk about sending the message that technology is drudgery, that learning should be sanitary and joyless and hierarchical and proprietary, that surveillance is more important than collaboration . . . and that edTEch should be as surveillant as humanly-computationally possible. Every time I open it, I think to myself "This is software for the panopticon."
On snow days this winter, some local eight-year olds have spent time in our office playing with Little Big Planet, set up as we collaborate with Sony on learning applications for this popular game. I see them rapt in their attention, and LBP is truly beautiful and delightful. When we asked if they were learning, they laughed hysterically, as if having that much fun couldn't possibly teach them anything. Why? No doubt because, for them, working on a computer is living in the grey and blue and drab one-dimensional land of Educational Software, two of the most dreaded words in the educator's vocabulary.
Okay, I admit I'm grouchy today but please, please, someone out there, build me a better, more joyous Blackboard!