As Online Learning Booms, Education IT Gains Power - InformationWeek
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As Online Learning Booms, Education IT Gains Power

Online learning products are booming, giving teachers a smorgasbord of options and IT professionals in education influence they haven't enjoyed in years.

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As online distance learning booms, it's rattling the already large market for online learning tools. There's new energy around online learning universities and school districts, and IT leaders in academia have influence they haven't enjoyed in years.

"You had a decade where customers didn't have a lot of power. Now, there's a lot more power in the hands of higher-ed institutions," said Phil Hill, a partner at Mindwires Consulting in Los Gatos, Calif., and co-publisher of the e-Literate blog.

Much of that change is the blunting of the power of Blackboard, he says. Blackboard established its position on top of the market for learning management systems in part by buying its major opponents, and trying to sue a rival out of existence. But open-source alternatives such as Moodle, Sakai and Canvas, plus the rise of MOOC platforms such as Edx and Coursera, have diminished Blackboard's market power. Hill says it's also refocused the market on customer needs.

[ Do billionaire dropouts like Steve Jobs influence kids' decision to attend college? Read From Jobs Movie To Jobs Case Study. ]

In addition, traditional textbook publishers such as Cengage, McGraw-Hill and Pearson offer a variety of online tools, including learning management systems. The potential to have access to a variety of integrated content is one reason why California College of the Arts is piloting Pearson's learning management system, OpenClass, and its open-text library, Exchange.

Mara Hancock, CCA's CIO, says she thinks the ability to develop content for and gain access to open content in Exchange "will be really valuable."

Hancock said that because it is IMS compliant means the school should have more access to mixing open content with pieces of published texts. She hopes this will create less of a lock-in effect, a complaint that some CIOs have with higher-ed platform providers. But contracts and license fees are not the only ways to trap a customer. Hancock noted that the College of the Arts already uses Pearson's Equella Digital Repository. For now, she is piloting the Pearson LMS with a low-residency program where students earn a master of fine arts in comics.

The Pearson products span what had been different categories. Online learning software for schools had clumped into asynchronous tools, such as Blackboard Learn, and synchronous ones, such as Blackboard's Collaborate platform for teaching.

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User Rank: Apprentice
12/12/2017 | 10:50:02 AM
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User Rank: Strategist
2/10/2016 | 6:43:05 AM
Really, online professional writing platforms are great learning tool...
I found this post quite useful.. thank you writer! what impressed me is writer seems to very knowledgeable, the way s/he he has mentioned multiple names of online learning tools. like Feeling grateful
User Rank: Strategist
10/22/2015 | 1:24:37 AM
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User Rank: Apprentice
8/24/2013 | 4:55:38 AM
re: As Online Learning Booms, Education IT Gains Power
Thanks for this article. We'd like to correct one statement: Yale School of Medicine does not use Blackboard. They do use LCMS+, our specialized learning management system for healthcare education, to manage their undergraduate medical curriculum.

As one of the new EdTech companies out there, we appreciated this overview of how the EdTech market is changing and how new and established players alike must adapt in order to keep pace. We are proud of our association with Yale and many other U.S.-based medical schools and are keen to see how these changes keep playing out!

Allison Wood

Co-founder and CEO
David F. Carr
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
8/22/2013 | 2:44:46 PM
re: As Online Learning Booms, Education IT Gains Power
Would love to hear what readers see happening: proliferation or consolidation of online learning technologies? Aren't there more options now than ever?
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