It depends on what the definition of is, is.

According to a New York Times article featured in yesterday’s Wired Campus newsletter, Blackboard “has all the earmarks of a disruptive technology.'”

(Pause for laughter.)

Blackboard is a disruptive technology? Okay, maybe it does technically fit one definition. But what about the spirit of disruption? What about finding new, innovative uses for existing technologies, and creating new ones to meet specific needs of the educational community?

Apparently, innovation isn’t really that important. Michael L. Chasen, Blackboard’s president and CEO, asserts that “we are teaching and learning in much the same way we have for centuries.” I wonder what students in Barbara Ganley‘s writing classes, Graham Stanley‘s ESL/EFL classes, my colleague Barbara Sawhill‘s Spanish classes, or Ewan McIntosh‘s French and German classes would have to say about that?

Mr. Chasen goes on to say:

We [at Blackboard] don’t aim to replace the classroom. We’re not looking to revolutionize education.

Well that’s for darn sure. Blackboard, other LMS/CMS tools (I’m talking to you, too, Moodle), and technology in general should not cannot replace the classroom or compensate for poor teaching strategies. The use of technology needs to be rooted in education, not the other way ’round. It doesn’t matter how far behind the US is in educational technology spending if the money’s not spent wisely and directed towards sound pedagogical purposes. We can, as Michael Feldstein suggests,

encourag[e] our fellow citizens in our respective countries –and around the world– to insist that our govenments fund infrastructure, teacher training, content development, and R&D for educational technology in a systematic way

but until we insist on the same systematic support for education itself, too many of our kids will still end up un- or under-prepared. Isn’t that what matters?

Ryan has been proudly maintaining and contributing to Language Lab Unleashed since 2005, and is the current President of SWALLT. Since the summer of 2013 he's been causing trouble with his all-star colleagues in the UMW DTLT; when not wrangling websites Ryan can be found doing strange things with heavy objects.

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