K-12 Tech Trends :: February 7, 2007



Is the Blackboard Patent Issue Resolved?

We've covered the Blackboard software patent issue extensively over the last few months—from the first grumblings of the education community and software developer community to the latest developments last week. What are those latest developments? In short, Blackboard, the developer of course management systems for K-12 and higher ed, offered open-source developers and service providers just about everything they wanted.

Just about.

Blackboard still holds the patent on certain technologies used in course management systems, and it does not intend to give commercial software rivals free access to those tehnologies. But the company last week did release a legally binding statement giving all open-source developers (like Sakai, Moodle, and ATutor), as well as service providers and schools, open access to the technologies covered by the patent.

But the open-source community still has reservations about the statement.

We have exclusive interviews from the executive director of Sakai and the vice president and general counsel of Blackboard, plus reactions from education association EDUCAUSE. Find out what they're saying about these latest developments in the midst of the Patent Office's reexamination of the Blackboard patent and the company's patent infringement suit against Desire2Learn....

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News Briefs

Arkansas Districts Get HELP Through Grants

According to Digital Directions International (DDI), two districts in Arkansas have been added to the list of those implementing the company's Help with English Language Proficiency (HELP) program, affecting students in 14 middle schools and high schools....

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Blackboard Pledges Non-Assertion of Patent on Open Source Developers

In a surprise twist on the ongoing controversy over Blackboard Inc.'s e-learning software patent, the company today announced that it will not assert its patent rights against open-source developers. Blackboard had maintained previously that it was supportive of the pen-source community and that it would not be looking at those developers as targets for patent litigation, but it had stopped short of making a formal pledge until today....

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Brevard County Adopts Atomic's Tech Training

Florida's Brevard County Public Schools has implemented a new professional development and student training program using Atomic Learning's online training tools. Atomic is a developer of Web-based software designed specifically for training educators and students on the use of technologies. According to the company, this latest deal with Brevard County brings the total number os students and teachers using its software to more than 1 million and the total number of schools in Florida using its tools to more than 1,200....

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Iowa Districts Opt for Infinite SIS

Four school districts in Iowa have selected Infinite Campus as the supplier of their student education process management systems. These include Burlington Community School District, Johnston Community School District, Oskaloosa Community School District, and Southeast Polk Community School District. Implementations were handled in conjunction with ViPS of Marion, IA, which is providing support as well....

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Pulaski Adopts Plato for Special Ed Program

Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) in Arkansas has signed an agreement to implement Plato Learning's professional development and instructional support for the district's special education program....

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Wisconsin Schools Move to Safari Montage for VOD

According to Library Video Co., schools and districts across the state of Wisconsin have begun adopting the company's Safari Montage WAN Manager and Creation Station, joining Chicago Public Schools, Plano ISD, and Forsyth County Schools, which have also recently adopted the VOD management system....

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KC Distance Learning Acquires Aventa

Portland, OR-based KC Distance Learning (KCDL), a provider of online educational services, has acquired the assets of Aventa Learning, a content and service provider for K-12. The company's K-12 offerings will continue to be marketed under the Aventa brand....

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NASBE Issues Guiding Principles for NCLB Reauthorization

The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) last week released a list of "guiding principles" that it hopes Congress will consider as it makes modifications to the No Child Left Behind Act. The organization argues that changes should be made only in collaboration with those who have had experience implementing the existing law and who know first-hand "what works and what doesn't work."...

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Grants & Awards

2007 Sylvia Charp Awards

T.H.E. Journal and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) are pleased to announce the 4th annual award program in honor of Dr. Sylvia Charp and her groundbreaking contributions and extended service to the education technology community....

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Products & Services

McGraw-Hill Releases Assessment Reporting System

CTB/McGraw-Hill (CTBMH) has released a new English- and Spanish-language assessment reporting system, LAS Links Report Pack. The new system provides reporting tools to analyze and present LAS Links assessment test results across classrooms, schools, and districts, according to CTBMH…(1/31/2007)

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Merit Debuts ELL Programs

Educational software publisher Merit Software has expanded its line of programs for English Language Learners with the launch of Essential English Fitness and Picture Context Reader. The two new programs are designed for "high beginning" and "low intermediate" ELL students, targeting grammar and reading fundamentals…(1/30/2007)

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Coming Up

  • FEB 5-9, 2007
    TCEA 2007
    Texas Computer Education Association
    Austin, Texas

  • JUNE 24-27, 2007
    NECC 2007
    28th-Annual National Educational Computing Conference
    Atlanta, GA

THE Journal Opportunities

Share Your Best Practices

T.H.E. Journal is currently looking for the following types of articles for future issues and for our eNewsletter, T.H.E. SmartClassroom:

  • School Perspectives - discuss a specific topic, trend, or concern about education technology.
  • Case Studies – have you implemented technology and learned a lot from the experience? If so, share your efforts about what worked -- and what didn't.

If you have a potential article, or questions about the above topics, please e-mail editorial@thejournal.com

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