Blackboard meets open education?

Blackboard is now marketing itself as a multiple learning platform, one which supports both commercial software and open source content. Blackboard CourseSites, launched in  2011, is a free, cloud-based opportunity for releasing teaching and learning courses as OER. Register for free at and start building your course. Alternatively try a free course. Blackboard is promoting CourseSites with Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success led by Dr. Curtis Bonk which focuses on successful strategies and approaches to online learning, course design and facilitation.

Making education ‘open’ is a current trend and the release of OER under a Creative Commons licence takes full advantage of the affordances of the Internet to offer any-time any-place access to information and knowledge. Blackboard is a corporate giant in the world of commercial education and its not immediately clear if this move into the ‘free’ world is an example of genuine altruism or if there is a hidden agenda. On the surface it looks good. Instructors can post course materials, communicate with students and manage grades, but what are the disadvantages?

You are restricted to five ‘live’ courses although if you need more, then old ones can be hidden creating space for additional new ones. CourseSites cannot be integrated with existing systems and it isn’t clear how you would package up your course and export it somewhere else. Looking at the available literature online it seems the best way to find out the pros and cons is to use CourseSites to create a course so I’m experimenting with making some of the Getting Started transition materials available as OER in this way.

There is mention of a planned Blackboard Building Block to enable institutions to showcase courses that are open for learning. Instructors will apparently be able to share OER courses via Facebook and Twitter, but whether or not this Building Block has been released is unclear.  For now you can use the Publish Open Resource link in Packages and Utilities which offers space for keywords and gives you the course URL with a BY Creative Commons licence attached.

 ‘Attribution CC BY: this license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

Blackboard meets open education – this could be an interesting space to watch…

Blackboard and open education  Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference Plantijn Hogeschool, Antwerp  Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference Plantijn Hogeschool, Antwerp Blackboard Teaching and Learning Conference Plantijn Hogeschool, Antwerp

One Reply to “Blackboard meets open education?”

  1. Thank you for this information. If you want to try exporting your course, you can do so by clicking the Export/Archive Course link in the Packages and Utilities area of the instructor control panel. This export file can be taken and used in any other Blackboard environment. Many other LMSs can also import the Blackboard course package format. In addition to these options, Blackboard can export course content using Common Cartridge, an LMS-agnostic format which almost all other LMSs can import. Blackboard, however, is one of the few LMSs that actually allows you to export your content in this format and take it with you wherever you go. Many other LMSs can only export in a format that for lack of better term is “proprietary” that that LMS. For a complete listing of LMS standards compliance, this site is helpful:

    On a similar note, CourseSites (and Blackboard in general) can integrate with any other tool or system that supports the IMS Basic Learning Tools Interoperability standard. You can see a YouTube video of how this works here: It is accurate, however, that to integrate with a school’s own student records or authentication system that the school would need to investigate the full hosted or on-premise version of the Blackboard Learn product.

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