Friday, August 1, 2008

It's a Blackboard World - Sort of

I joined over two thousand Blackboard administrators and course developers in Las Vegas recently and was quite impressed with their thoughts and discussions about content management. While Blackboard may be best known for its learning management software the addition of content management, outcomes assessments and other applications to their product suite appears be prompting customers to think about content management and storage in a broader context these days. 

Like most organizations these institutions have focused on leveraging the web to improve the core value proposition of their business. In higher education that means the effective delivery and management of the learning experience itself. However, after almost ten years of learning management system innovation it was interesting to learn that many academic institutions were still just beginning to apply a similar focus to managing content in other parts of their business, such as administrative and research functions.

The concept of a common content repository, sometimes considered a holy grail of the enterprise content management industry would seem particularly appropriate to institutions of higher learning where ad hoc collaboration and the free exchange of information are a hallmark. However, the practical reality appears to be about as distant in academia as in other large organizations.

Speaking with BB World attendees I listened to various plans to improve content management but, to continue doing it independently from learning management systems. This may simply be a reaction to the more structured content management methods systems like Blackboard and WebCT have historically required, yet I also heard about varying institutional policies and disparate organizational structures also guiding the selection and use of content management technology beyond the classroom.

Ultimately, I think this is all good news as the attendees appeared more aware than ever about the advantages which ECM can provide – just that it can’t easily be delivered in a common or universal fashion. As a result, it would appear that there’s still plenty of opportunity for new content management solutions in administrative, research and other non-learning related parts of the institution. It’s probably just not realistic to try and address these different sets of needs comprehensively, even if it might be technically possible. Is anyone hearing the words “federated search”? Until next time…

1 comment:

Jim Till said...

Things have changed! Learn about content management at BbWorld 2009