Blackboard and D2L are still at it: D2L making changes and Blackboard being indignant.
According to Blackboard, Desire2Learn failed to make several arguably easy changes that would have avoided infringement in future versions of the software, opting instead to rename features and keep functionality that was already seen as violating the companyâ€™s patents. The juryâ€™s decision in February, which awarded Blackboard $2.5 million for lost profits plus $630,000 in royalties, opened the door for an injunction that barred Desire2Learn from marketing or selling course management software in the United States up to and including the latest version, as well as subsequent revisions deemed â€œnot more than colorably differentâ€ from the existing versions.
The changes do seem superficial, residing in the interface rather than the code or functionality –
â€œIn crafting version 8.3, Desire2Learn made only transparently cosmetic changes to the previous version of its software. For example, it renamed the â€™studentâ€™ role as â€˜user,â€™ without any change in functionality. Likewise, it deleted the â€˜default rolesâ€™ … from the database associated with the product, while leaving the productâ€™s source code essentially the same and keeping the productâ€™s infringing functionality intact,â€ the motion says.
In one case, according to the motion, the court suggested that Desire2Learn remove a feature that allows one user â€œto have multiple roles with a single login â€” a feature Desire2Learn repeatedly told the court was tiny and insignificant. Desire2Learn said that it could make that change easily and inexpensively. Blackboardâ€™s expert testified that such a design-around would be non-infringing. But Desire2Learn chose not to remove the infringing capability.”
My quick take on the matter is that any change D2L makes without a complete re-design is going to complicate the UI and compromise usability. Consider Apple’s Trash v MS’s Recycling Bin.
It might be better for all to move outside the fray (which is so Web 1.0 anyway), to open source, or something more closely tailored to learning – something more Web 2.0, something like, you know, maybe wikis.
Let me know how it all turns out, I’ll be over here.
See also SocialLearn: Bridging the Gap Between Web 2.0 and Higher Education, Martin Weller