Blackboard backs ed-tech standards

Without the standards, the professor could not import her course from one platform to another, meaning she would have to take hours to recreate the course online.

Applying standards to Blackboard’s popular platform made good business sense as campus technologists and educators look for more flexible online learning tools, said Charles Severance, a faculty member at the University of Michigan’s School of Information and a developer network coordinator for IMS.

“Strong support for standards and interoperability is very much in Blackboard’s best interest and for me it always felt like it was only a question of when it would fit into the Blackboard development cycle,” he said, adding that the company’s pledge to Common Cartridge and Basic LTI could mark the first step in Blackboard assuming an active role in advancing standards. “Beyond Blackboard’s customers, I hope that this is the beginning of Blackboard taking increasing leadership for the entire marketplace in terms of standards and interoperability.”

Blackboard’s commitment, Abel said, could also be a money saver for college and university IT departments that have seen deep budget cuts in recent years.

Custom integrations that bridge many learning systems are expensive, Abel said. But Basic LTI would allow applications to be shared from one LMS to another without IT staffers spending hours – or days – completing customization.

“I am imagining a future where Blackboard becomes increasingly open in what it is thinking about for next-generation approaches to teaching and learning,” Severance said.