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History professor Jonathan Rees called it an “uncharacteristically subtle post.” When he posted an excerpt from his university’s report on its Blackboard usage, he didn’t have to say much: “I think all I want to do here is point out that all the things professors use Blackboard for here most (as well as a few of the things that not many people use Blackboard for) can be done for a lot less money than whatever our Blackboard license costs. Sometimes they can be done for no money at all.”

Rees asks a really important question: why would a school opt to spend so much money on an LMS when many of its features go unused? Why pay when you can find cheap or free alternatives elsewhere?

I’m not sure how much the usage patterns of Rees’ university match those at other institutions. But if, indeed, people are primarily – heck, overwhelmingly – using the LMS to share documents and send announcements, then wow, we need to really look closely at what Google Apps for Education is providing campuses – a cloud-based document creation, editing, sharing, and storage tool, plus email, calendaring, and social networking – as well as what it’s positioned to provide in the future thanks to APIs and app stores.

So when will Google Apps for Education replace the LMS?  Read my post over on e-Literate for more...

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Audrey Watters


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