If Facebook Worked Like Blackboard

A question Shawn asked in writing about social objects last week made me wonder… What if Facebook worked like Blackboard (or pretty much any other LMS)?

Imagine if every fifteen weeks Facebook:

  • shut down all the groups you belonged to,
  • deleted all your forum posts,
  • removed all the photos, videos, and other files you had shared, and
  • forgot who your friends were.

How popular or successful would Facebook be then? How popular or successful is Blackboard now? The closed learning management system paradigm is bankrupt.

7 thoughts on “If Facebook Worked Like Blackboard”

  1. Wow, that’s a fun game!

    How about:

    Hide everyone who isn’t your friend away so you can’t make new ones.

    Constantly ask you to check security certificates.

    Give you no way to create a profile… you are just a name.

  2. Exactly . . . So long as CMSs are primarily oriented toward instructor needs and institutional efficiency, they won’t provide the tools & experiences that learners want and need. Time to change this equation, no?

  3. I think it is disingenuous to describe the LMSs as only doing this. In Blackboard Academic Suite Vista Enterprise and CE, this is a checkbox to toggle. The reason the checkbox is toggled in our systems is Vice Presidents of Academic Affairs listened to the complaints from vocal members of the faculty asking to disallow students from accessing classes after the end of the term. Another group want students to access after the end of the term, but they also did not want students using it very long after grades were posted.

    You are right though, Facebook doesn’t listen to the wishes of their user base. I’ve been having to use Myspace more because of people irate about the new layout leaving Facebook.

  4. While I’m not usually one to defend Blackboard – I thought it should be noted that shutting down every 15 weeks, deleting all users, etc. are choices made by the institution – e.g. to fit with the academic calendar (and perhaps to comply with licensing and diskspace restrictions).

    The software itself doesn’t force these restrictions – back when I ran a Blackboard server we had one class with open enrollment that ran for many years with a constantly growing group of users. Moodle.org of course has several ‘courses’ that have been open for ~5 years:-).

    Having developed and used read/write web software since 1998 myself for both ‘traditional Web 2.0’ websites (logins, user generated content, groups, etc.) and ‘course’ sites (as above with the groups=courses) the main difference between a ‘CMS’ like PHPNuke, Xaraya, Drupal, etc. and an ‘LMS’ is that the LMS provides tools for running courses the way that accredited institutions typically run courses (semesters, closed enrollments, grades, etc.) – in many cases they don’t need to be used that way – in the backed they’re similar databases; tables of users, groups, content, and permissions, with GUI/form interfaces aimed at specific target audiences.

  5. After hearing a podcast and seeing a demo of Blackboard’s social bookmarking feature (scholar.com), I started to think Blackboard might have something going here–higher octane social bookmarks vetted by other scholars, and blending this with open content creation from the students, all delivered in a controllable stream within the Blackboard course. I just haven’t seen a good way, yet, to apply social bookmarking to higher education (my efforts to use diigo have been rocky), and this looked pretty good. My institution (BYU) has Blackboard, but even I couldn’t get a scholar.com account because our school has not bought that module. Closed social bookmarking is an oxymoron. Blackboard, what are you thinking?

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