Sunday, December 03, 2006

From Blackboard to Whiteboard

A walk around some educational institutions have shown that there is a great decline in the number of blackboards in use. Instead, most of the the educational institutions are using whiteboards. I do not know if the person who invented the blackboard had patented the various ways you could hang it up in a classroom, or the various types of chalk you could use. When I was schooling, in the times of blackboard and chalk, most of the teachers used to drink alcohol after work - to down the chalk dust. Nowadays, most of the whiteboard markers are made from alcohol. I do not have evidence that teachers no longer drink alcohol, or they now use another 'solvent' to down the alcohol. Isn't innovation interesting? History tells me that the first writing material was the scroll then the paper. I am wondering here if the paper inventor patented the art of writing or the paper itself. I am thinking of the billions of dollars that would have translated to. Well, this are just side thoughts and trying to picture how far we have come and yet to go with innovation - with or without Blackboard's Patents.
Stephen Downes in the December 2006/January 2007 issue of Innovate has presented a patent dilemma that has seen one Learning Management System transform itself to a Litigation/Lawsuit Making System thanks to Blackboard's patents. I would echo what he says in his last paragraph and I quote:
I have argued in the past that the thieves in our community are not the file sharers and the advocates of open source, but rather, those who use the nuances of the legal system to take something created by others and to make it their own (Downes 2003). I agree with Howard Rheingold: "Blackboard's actions are shameful, greedy, and bogus, and they have the potential for retarding the development of online learning throughout the world" (2006, ¶ 1).

BUT, like I have said before, online learning is an idea whose time has come, and NO action by the likes of Blackboard would stifle it.

No comments: