LMS circa 1999

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I was digging through some old files on CD and came across a report that I did when I worked at the now defunct Centre for Learning Technologies at Mount Allison University. It was called The Design, Development and Delivery of Internet Based Training and Education, dated March 28, 2000. I had worked on that report during the Fall of 1999. Part of the report examined what I described as “Asynchronous Group Learning Capable Environments”. This report was the second evaluation that we had completed at the CLT, but I can’t find a copy of the earlier one from 1998/1999.

From the report’s introduction:

The landscape of web-based learning environments has become more complex over the past few years, and this is further complicated by mergers, acquisitions, new versions of existing products and new products on the market. No one knows exactly how many learning environments exist, but the 40 that we evaluated provide a good view of the spectrum currently available. The Centre for Learning Technologies (CLT) examined these environments as part of a collaborative project effort by the BC Standing Committee on Educational Technology, the Centre for Curriculum, Transfer and Technology, the Office of LearningTechnologies, and TeleEducation New Brunswick.

The environments were evaluated from the perspective of functionality only.

Each environment, or LMS, was examined against a number of functions, as follows:

N= Not applicable
0= No support
1= Some support, but not a strength of the product
2= Adequate support, a secondary feature of the product
3= Full support, a primary feature of the product

I’ve picked a few of the functions out of the tables to highlight how many other commercially available systems were on the market at the time. These had all been in production and on the market for several years. You will note that many had functions that Blackboard claims were unique to its system in 2000. Note that Blackboard was known as CourseInfo at the time.

I’m posting this to show that Blackboard’s claims of patenting a unique “course-based system for providing to an educational community of users access to a plurality of online courses”, do not reflect the online learning technology marketplace at the time.

Here is a sampling:

“Analysing and tracking tools include facilities for statistical analysis of student-related data and the facility to display the progress of individual students in the course structure”
3: eAdministrator, Generation21, KOTrain, LearningSpace, VCampus
2: CourseInfo, and several others
1: WebCT, and several others

“Authorisation tools that assign access and other privileges to specific users or user groups.”
3: WebCT, eAdministrator, FirstClass, Generation21, Knowledge Planet, KOTrain, LearningSpace
2: CourseInfo, and several others

“Course monitoring includes facilities that provide information about the usage of course resources by individual students and groups of students.”
3: WebCT, VCampus, Pathware, KnowledgePlanet, Generation21, KOTrain, eAdministrator
2: CourseInfo, and several others

Course customising includes the facility to change the structure of the course and its assignments, exams, etc. This may include guides, templates, and related product support and training.”
3: WebCT, CourseInfo, Knowledge Planet, Generation21, LearningSpace, Pathware, Quest, Trainsoft, VCampus

“Managing records includes facilities for organising and keeping track of course-related information.”
3: WebCT, WCB, Virtual U, QuestionMark, LearningSpace, KnowledgePlanet, Generation21, eAdministrator, CourseInfo

“Progress tracking includes some facility for the student to check marks on assignments and tests.”
3: WebCT, Pathlore, Norton Connect, VCampus, Pathware, Mentorware, Learningspace, KnowledgePlanet, eAdministrator
2: CourseInfo, Serf, TrainSoft, WCB

At the time, this was a public report, available on the TeleEducation New Brunswick site (now defunct, too). I do have a copy, though.

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