Wednesday, November 02, 2011

It Does My Heart Good...

to see Phil Hill at e-Literate speculate on ....

What If OpenClass Succeeds in Disrupting LMS Market? ...

According to Phil people are asking:

will Pearson’s OpenClass LMS offering and associated corporate strategy lead to more competition or less competition in the LMS space for higher ed, or how will the competitive landscape change?

At this point, a couple weeks into the OpenClass beta, I'm really excited that the question is being debated. It means the word is getting out about #OpenClass and people are interested in our new model, and the impact that it may have on the market. A good beginning.

Phil and Michael have an interesting perspective on OpenClass. First, I think they have it right when they say we intend the OC as a disruptive product. We are adamant about making a quality product, but we are also conscious of avoiding feature bloat. We think connection to third party tools and technologies will be crucial to creating the richest possible landscape. This will be an important way that OpenClass will expand its capabilities, to facilitate choice.

e-Literate is also spot on when it says that if the OC platform is successful, it will redefine the LMS category and change the game. OpenClass is intended as a platform strategy -- specifically a co-creation platform. As I understand the term, co-creation platforms allow diverse creators to share a common development and deployment infrastructure at Internet scale to deliver products to a market in an integrated way. Done well, a co-ceation platform can be a tremendous spur to innovation - think eBay, Wikipedia, Amazon.

e-Literate goes on to say that:

If OpenClass is successful ... it will move the learning platform more towards a consumer decision and less of an institutional decision.

I think this would be a good outcome, as long as we can help CIOs prevent data Balkanization. If students and faculty are choosing not just the OC platform, but individual learning technologies and new kinds of content, then OC will be a positive force in education.

I hope we are able to grow the OC into a space that provides an opportunity for innovators to reach faculty and students more quickly, more richly, and that all that activity leads to greater student success. If we can make that happen, the rest will take care of itself.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Published v. Open content: Clash of the Titans or natural coexistence?

(Deleted this post accidentally...reposting)
I think some folks think that there is a kind of educational cage match between Open and published content: Two will go in, but only One can come out. And we end up with either an exclusively open source or an exclusively published content world thereafter.

I don't see it that way. Seems to me that the world we have lived in for a while is one where open and published content co-exist quite naturally.

Pearson sells educational technology and content. To do that, our content must always add value above and beyond the value provided by OpenSource resources that are available to all of us for free. We are up to that challenge, now and into the future. Professors everywhere are combining their own content with others content, both open and published, to create learning opportunities for students. Pearson welcomes innovation from everywhere, OpenSource and published, that will contribute to student success and accelerate the improvements technology can bring to education.


A Good Week for #OpenClass

It's hard to believe that Educasue was only just last week. I have to say this past week was a good one for OpenClass.

The response from schools around the world, from the community, and from the press has been terrific, beyond our expectations. Googling OpenClass brings back links to ongoing coverage from the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, US News, TMC Net, ZDNet and many others. We were covered in the financial press too, by Forbes, the Mötley Fool, MarketWatch, and NPR's Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal. The blogging and twitter communities are following us extensively. We were the buzz of the show at Educause.

So all in all, a good start.

More than 1000 Google Apps institutions have already activated the OC for their domains through the GoogleApps Marketplace. Several campuses are considering wider adoptions and I'm confident we will soon be able to announce the first campus to adopt OpenClass as their institutional choice.

The challenge now is to maintain momentum and build the trust of the community through effective and open communication. We have a great core of leaders who have gotten us this far and we hope they will help us as we expand and round out the core feature set, build out the exchange, integrate a broad array of technology and content partners and grow.

In the next couple of weeks we will be opening a common instance of OpenClass we are calling OpenClassU. I'm hoping to move the design discussions to a set of classes there, where we can use the tool we are building out together to share ideas and learn from one another.

Would you have interest in an invitation to an OpenClassU?


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Josh Kim's 4 Injunctions

Our friend Josh Kim posted some more challenges for the OC team. We appreciate Josh’s commitment to more open conversations across the community and for his feedback on our willingness to have a public dialog about OpenClass. We hope that this approach encourages others across the community to participate in the future.
Like all good friends, Josh tells us straight, and in his most recent OpenClass post he gave us four injunctions:

  1. Utilize OpenClass as an Extranet Platform
  2. Aggregate the Discussion
  3. Publish all costs
  4. Publish all adoptions

Regarding Josh’s latest ideas, we’re happy to say that all of these are in our interest and we plan to do each of these, and most will be substantially in place In the next 3-4 months.

  1. Team OC wants nothing more than for everyone to have the opportunity to get their hands on OpenClass. To begin to meet the demand for OpenClass access outside the Google institutions, we will begin sending invitations to those who have registered their interest with us at over the next several weeks.If you are not using Google Apps for Education and would like to get a first-hand look into the product please email We are following a careful growth path, working toward general availability in the first half of next year.
  2. Our goal is to provide as much detail around OpenClass as possible to the community. As details around the OpenClass offering crystallize, we will continue to grow our website, broaden and deepen the available information and create a central place for everyone to find information on OpenClass and discuss how it should improve. As a start, this week we added visual walkthroughs of some of the key features within OpenClass on the website.
  3. As Pearson better understands the integration and support models that the community will be receptive to, we will publish how we plan to provide those services commercially. Pearson will offer helpdesk, integration and other commercial services to help meet the needs of institutions that would choose Pearson to provide those services. Remember though that Pearson is committed to provide to OpenClass institution at no cost in a self-service way.
  4. TeamOC is eager to share the stories from institutions and other partners as they experience and engage with OpenClass. As we progress we will be encouraging OpenClass users to share their experiences with one another. Look for these in the upcoming weeks on

We are working hard to meet the demand for information over the next several months as the OpenClass community grows. We are committed to transparency and really appreciate everyone's interest and advice.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Michael's Followup

Michael Feldstein followed up his first thoughtful post on OpenClass with another. Here's some of what he had to say in his second piece:

I think Pearson is trying to create a platform in the way that Google and Facebook are platforms...I think there is a lot that is compelling about the idea of such a platform, and that it could deliver improvements to the learning experience that would be difficult to achieve without the kind of scale ... that Pearson is trying to create. In essence, the message is that Pearson will get the LMS (and its price tag) out of the way so that, in Adrian’s words, teachers can focus on “climbing the value chain.”

You can read the rest of the post here.
Michael also had some welcome advice for us:
Pearson will need to raise its game if it wants to foster the kind of trust necessary to build the new customer relationships that it appears to be shooting for.

Michael is right. This is a new game for us. We've been playing for a little more than a week, and we already see lots we have to learn, and fast. But we are determined to build on the interest in the OC model and the trust that faculty already place in Pearson when they choose our materials for the students in their courses. The OC team is determined to be of service to this community through the agency of our company, and gain trust one person at a time.

PS - We have posted a slideshow tour of #OpenClass at


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nixty asks...

Q: @Nixty, a competitor to OpenClass, asks:

What happens when readily available free courses/texts help students learn better than Pearson’s closed expensive courses/texts?
What happens when we have clear research support that shows how students taking the open and free course learn more than students taking Pearson’s closed and expensive course?
Pearson’s stated aim is to make the LMS a commodity so they can sell more of their closed content and course tools. What happens when Pearson isn’t selling enough of their closed content and course tools?
Answer: Is this a trick question? Doesn't this boil down to the more general question --- What happens when a free product is better than one you pay for? There's only one conclusion I can come to - free wins that round. And 'for pay' has to come up with something worth paying for, which is the essence of competition, the arms race that drives economics to produce improvement. I believe Pearson has proven it is up to that challenge for the long haul.
Q: Later in the same post @nixty also asked:
[Pearson's] business model assumes (and this is a fundamentally flawed assumption) that they will be able to sell closed content and tools to support OpenClass. What happens when their assumption proves to be wrong?
Answer: Again, do I have to be careful of a trap? I can only see one answer. Pearson content will always have to continue to be worth money if we expect people to pay for it. Which is why we work so hard to ensure we find new and better ways of ensuring student success. The competition between pay and free will lead both modalities to innovations we haven't yet imagined.
Let the games begin!! And may the best product win!

PS - Nixty has the wrong idea about Pearson's stated aim for OpenClass. OpenClass is all forms of content, both Open and published. We are so committed to open, it's in the name.


Michael Feldstein

Nice seeing everyone at Educause last week. Katy, Scot and I caught up with Michael Feldstein last Thursday. Michael has recently joined Cengage [a Pearson competitor]. We sat down to talk OpenClass, and after our talk, here's some of what Michael had to say on his blog. It was a friendly conversation; Michael and I have known each other a long time. No one took any notes.

The big buzz at EDUCAUSE last week was around OpenClass, Pearson’s new LMS entrant....My conclusion is that this product could be a very big deal indeed....@Sannier is a big fan of Clayton Christensen, the man who coined the term “disruptive innovation.” If you really want to understand what OpenClass is all about, go out and read The Innovator’s Dilemma and The Innovator’s Solution very carefully. There are very specific reasons why “free” and “easy” are the words you will hear most often from Adrian when he is speaking about the product. The audacity of what Pearson is attempting should not be underestimated. If they succeed, they could cause major tectonic shifts across several markets that are currently critical to higher education.
He has his concerns too, mostly about privacy and control.
His post is worth a read. Though I don't agree with some of his interpretations -- both of what I had to say and of what OpenClass has to offer -- I appreciate his perspective.


Friday, October 21, 2011


While the general reaction to our announcement was positive, it wouldn't be Educause without a healthy dose of skepticism. Though lots of people reacted favorably to Pearson's new offering, there are plenty of folks who will need to see us live up to our rhetoric before they become believers. We will be working hard to win you over!
@OnlineAtGC posted: The Free LMS?
@scottphamlin liked our experience but is still unsure: Pearson's OpenClass looks pretty slick. You have to wonder how long it will be free
@nixty's analysis is that OpenClass has no chance at success. Obviously, I disagree :-):   Here is a question not answered yet: What happens when Pearson isn't selling enough closed content to support OpenClass?
@michaelochoago posted his reservations: I can see problems...I wonder about Pearson’s role as both a content provider and an LMS. (but in a comment to this article, Edward JennIngs "found [michaelochoago's] article to be biased and protective.)

To everyone -- fan, skeptic or in-between -- who is checking out the OC, the Pearson team is really appreciative and we look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Thanks for a great Educause 2011. I predict an exciting year!


More Answers

Twitterers have also posed some more questions in the past several days. Some of the ones of general interest I answered below:

1. Lots of people have asked us when we will widen availability of OpenClass beyond the GoogleAppsForEducation community:

@IvanWebb asked: Will OpenClass be available to non school-based users? Eg, Prof learning of teachers, and to support teacher networks?
@Paul_Melrose asked: How long before non-Google Edu App accounts can have access? Looks great and good luck.
@jfcarrasco asks: "what about old Europe...??? France precisely ???"
@dicksonk asked: Any Google Apps for Ed schools in UK? Right now #openclass is available in Google Marketplace. I'll ask what's next. . .
@iversity commented that Ultimately #OpenClass is available only to institutions - sort of open, but not really
The team is working towards wider availability for OpenClass in the coming year. For now, #OpenClass is available through the GoogleApps Marketplace to Apps For Education institutions. We'll keep you posted as availability of the OC expands. So far we've seen more than 500 institutional activations from the US and countries around the world.
2. @mswanson asked:
How long before Pearson charges for OpenClass? I guess we have to like it and get everyone using it first.
While I understand where your skepticism is coming from, i want to assure you "bait-and-switch" is not our business model. The OC is a free, cloud-based learning environment designed to accelerate the adoption of digital content in higher education. That's Pearson's interest in it and we are confident in our ability to deliver. Over time I hope we are able to win your confidence too.
3. @grumpel asked:
hmm. #openclass for library curriculum and teaching materials?
We are going to convene a group of experts from the digital library community to help us understand how to best connect to library resources on campus and to supplement local collections with availability of scholarly material from the cloud.


Support for Open Class

Over the past couple of days we've heard from people all over education who are excited by #OpenClass. Many are excited by our free, cloud-based model. Others are drawn to the OC's user experience and social features.
I've gathered together a smattering of the support we've received to give you a sense of what people that like OpenClass have to say...

1. @EricStoller made Veronica and team's day when he tweeted that:
The user interface for #OpenClass is gorgeous. It's designed for human users.
2. @flairandsquare liked the OpenClass keynote:
@sannier awesome keynote at #navigate2011 have you shared it anywhere?(The OpenClass Educause session is here  The Navigate keynote can be found here )
3. @PhilKomarny pointed followers to a keynote I did at ACU Connected this year that foreshadowed OpenClass --
"One of the best keynotes (and visions) that I have seen, ever....My vote for the most inspiring speaker and ed technology at #EDU11
4. Wendy Lampner (@wlampner) liked the model:
What's in it for you? An opportunity to climb value chain. You will love price. Spend Less on provisioning resources....I am impressed that a corporate provider is willing to have public discussion about their product. Good place to start.
5. David Kim (@dskpro) said: 
OpenClass as an LMS is just 1st phase. Combined power of social & learning content exchange will advance online learning.
6. @wandajbarreto said OpenClass represented:
"A shift to social education: OpenClass - free course-management tools with advanced social networking and community"
7. @JimLundy sounded ready for our alternative:
Is OpenClass (free offering via google apps) a threat to Blackboard, in the HE LMS market? Choice is good.
8. @I_am_10_ninjas made a pitch for using the OC at UofS:
Pearson's OpenClass ...I'm just sayin'...please tell me we'll just consider this as an option here at the UofS
9. @paulbmckenzie asked:
Will the Pearson/Google LMS, OpenClass compete with the likes of Blackboard - You bet.
10. @mritzius was pleased but a little confused by it too:
Playing with #openclass ... It looks beautiful but I am feeling lost in the woods here... it has an import from blackboard and moodle feature for course creation...I'm kicking the tires, looks great but not all that clear on setup
11. @jessemoland was a somewhat more comfortable:
Playing around with OpenClass on Google Apps. Looks nice so far, and setup was quick and easy.
12. @cloggingchris blogged about OpenClass:
...interesting presentation and discussion about a new VLE just launched by Pearson....Easy to use interface, content looks easy to create and upload, and from the student perspective you can create communities, collaborations and share stuff very simply. You can get to your gmail from within it, see your google calendar, Skype students directly and chat...It's attracting a lot of attention, and there's a lot of buzz about it here.
13. @binaryape commented that:
Marketing whinges aside, OpenClass does look like it might be a positive step away from the old VLE idea towards the PLE holy grail.


Educause 2011 Roundup

The #OpenClass team was thrilled by the enthusiastic reception that #OpenClass received at Educause in Philadelphia this week. I was so busy responding to people in person the past couple days that I've fallen behind in responding to all the comments and questions folks have posted. 
Rather than spamming the twitterverse with a burst of replies, I decided to gather up my responses in a blog post instead.

My favorite tweets about OpenClass in the past couple days were these two:

1. Inside Higher Ed (@IHEtech), which broke the story about #OpenClass, was following us so closely they even gave a sartorial review:
Apropos, @sannier et al. at Pearson booth dressed like they're about to help you move. Or stage a skit for your kids.(First time anyone has ever noticed my wardrobe! This is a good thing, right?)
2. It's hard not to like a tweet that uses "pig pile" as a technical term, and I think @nengelbert spoke the truth when she said:
Launch of any new product always brings on the pig pile of functional requirements & immediate naysayers-Give OpenClass a chance! (I can almost hear Yoko in the background...All we are saying, is 'Give the OC a chance...')
For more on reaction to OC from Educasue see:
Support for OpenClass   More Answers and  Skeptics 


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Some more responses for IHE

@Joshua Kim has been covering the announcement of #OpenClass and has fostered a dialog between our team and the IHE community. At Pearson, we think this kind of dialog will be critical to the evolution of OpenClass, and appreciate Josh making it easy for us to get it started.

We very much want OpenClass to prove useful to a broad swath of institutions and a dialog with the community will help us understand where we have things right and where we need to improve.
In a comment to Josh's "Pearson Should Engage", Mark Gbur raised some additional questions. We’ve answered those here:

0. I was unable to find a link to their site from Pearson, unable to find a press release, and unable to find anything explaining the Google partnership.
Answer: The OpenClass announcement is linked from the Pearson homepage( You can find more information at, including our press release. Googling "Pearson OpenClass" returns a lot of early OpenClass coverage. On Twitter, follow @JoinOpenClass or search for #OpenClass.

1. If an institution has no affiliation with Google Apps for Education, is there a hidden cost?
Answer: No, OpenClass will be free for all institutions. We made Pearson OpenClass available to Google Apps schools first because we felt those schools would be most receptive to a cloud-delivered LMS. As we evolve, we will be making OpenClass available to all institutions.

2. What are the requirements from Google, deploying through GoogleApps for Education? -
Answer: The only requirement is to have Google Apps deployed on campus.  From there, your Google Administrator can adopt OpenClass via the Google Apps Marketplace with no additional requirements.

a. Is Google Apps required to sign up for Open Class?
Answer: During the beta phase, OpenClass is only available to Google Apps for EDU institutions.  But early next year we will extend access to all institutions (Google Apps or not) and to adoption by individual professors.

b. Can a University authenticate through something beside Google? -
Answer: When we broaden availability, we will also extend the options for authentication, including industry standard solutions for LDAP authentication and single sign on.

c. Does that make their Google email their primary account?
Answer: I'm not sure how to answer this. Google Apps for Education provides a single sign on solution for institutions that allows faculty and students to use their institutional credentials as their "primary account". Does that answer the question?

5. What does the Assessment platform look like?
Answer: OpenClass supports a variety of assessment tools, including gradable discussions, online assignment submission and an exam tool which accepts import of QTI. Check out our demo at Educause. We will be posting videos of those online the week after.

6. What plans are there for backing up course content and archiving?
Answer: All course content is backed up and archived.

7. Is Google going to offer packages for additional support?
Answer:  Pearson will offer a number of custom commercial support options - including a 24/7 helpdesk, operational client services and strategic account management.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Some answers for Josh and IHE...

@JoshKim posted some questions for us relative to our newly announced #OpenClass. We certainly don’t intend to be frustrating and we’re excited to answer questions and be clear about what we know and what we don’t. It’s still early in the evolution of OpenClass. The response to our Beta announcement has been great – and we know there are lots of questions about the nature of this solution and how it will roll out over the coming months. We’d like to take a moment to answer some of those questions, and we know that others still remain. Please join us at EDUCAUSE Booth #1210, email us at or post your questions to @askopenclass

1. What kind of technical and instructional support will be provided with OpenClass?

ANSWER: OpenClass is designed to be a self-service learning environment with a robust knowledge base, support forums and instructional videos. Of course, we know that self-service isn’t the right solution for everyone – so there are also a variety of custom options available to deliver 24/7 email, phone and chat support to administrators, professor and students.

2. What programmatic options do schools have to integrate OpenClass with our student information systems, portal systems, custom authentication systems, and other enterprise systems?

ANSWER: We are committed to providing a platform that is open to integration at many levels – including student information systems, content solutions and third party learning applications. To us, this means a focus on industry standards (IMS, SCORM, etc.) and delivery of a diverse set of tools that promote the extension OpenClass by our educational and technology partners. Watch for these solutions (and many more) with the release of the OpenClass API Program later this year.

3. Why would a company that sells two platforms - Pearson Learning Studio (powered by eCollege) and Fronter - offer a competitive platform (or is it a much lesser capable and feature rich version) for free?

ANSWER: Pearson LearningStudio and OpenClass serve different markets. Pearson LearningStudio is the de-factor standard for fully online programs at scale, allowing programs a great deal of control over the academic experience. By contrast, OpenClass is designed for the campus market, where curriculum decisions are made one professor at a time. We understand the needs of these markets are quite distinct and have made OpenClass with that in mind. We recognize that there is more than one set of institutional requirements around the world for a LMS. OpenClass complements Pearson’s other platform offerings very effectively.

4. What granular customization controls will the institution, the faculty and the OpenClass end-user have to configure it as a campus-wide service, giving instructors and end-users ample room for personalization, sharing and openness, while preserving student privacy, intellectual property, copyright and institutional policies?

ANSWER: In many ways, we have patterned the OpenClass offering to match the Google Apps for Education model. Like GAE, OpenClass allows campuses to brand and restyle their OpenClass experience. Features that are clear improvements to the platform will be made immediately to take advantage of the speed that cloud development affords. Significant feature changes, or the implementation of new features, will be released in tandem with their “classic” behavior to allow users to choose their preference. New capabilities will be offered on an opt-in basis for campuses to allow them to manage their change processes. And, all participants in OpenClass have access to a set of privacy tools that control display of their personal profile and online status.

5. Free-hosting sounds great, but at what price? What sorts of idiosyncrasies and limitations will this cloud-based LMS have?

ANSWER: Again, we’ve patterned the OpenClass offering to match the Google Apps for Education model. Beyond that, we have some flexibility in our hosting strategy that we will use to adapt to the requirements of our early partners to ensure OpenClass is attractive to a broad swath of institutions.

6. Where is OpenClass' service level agreement?

ANSWER: We will provide a level of service consistent with the high level of service that we provide on all of our other SaaS applications.  If additional service levels (whether guarantees or help desk or technical services) beyond what is offered with OpenClass are required by an institution those will be made available on a commercial basis.

7. Do we have back-end access to our institutional OpenClass system and data?

ANSWER: Yes, institutions will have access to a rich data set within OpenClass at no cost. They will also be able to access for fee services from Pearson for expert analytics consulting and data analysis tools.

8. Will Pearson provide independent instances of OpenClass for each college and university? Joined tenancy SaaS are absurd, even when free, we need a private cloud.

ANSWER: OpenClass is offered as a single instance, multi-tenancy solution. We have considerable experience running these types of environments scaled to millions of students, and have an excellent security and privacy record. We believe in the power and efficiency of cloud delivery as we use with most of our other products and platforms, and as is used by Google, Amazon, SalesForce and other leading companies.

9. Our institutions must retain full say on how and when our LMS is upgraded and outfitted with new features and services (or not). Will we have full SysAdmin control?

ANSWER: We believe there are many institutions that find LMS upgrades disruptive, unproductive nuisances, and far from seeking control, would love to see them never occur again. As a cloud based offering, OpenClass has the ability to evolve rapidly and incrementally – without the need for large-scale upgrades or major upheavals in user experience. With that said, we also recognize that it’s important to allow institutions and professors to have control over when and how things do change in the learning environment. For that reason, many of the updates we release in OpenClass will be done through an “opt in” process. We’ll let customers know when new features are available so they can try them out and ultimately decide when they’re ready to adopt it.

10. What IMS and other open standards does OpenClass support? We would need to easily ingest years’ worth of LMS course sites and educational materials.

ANSWER: We know the challenges and benefits that come with integration – and we are committed to supporting industry standards (like IMS) that make these conversations easier for us all. Today, we support import of exams via QTI and the import of course content from a variety of learning platforms. But that is just the beginning. We are also actively working toward tools that allow SIS integration via LIS 2.0, tool integration using LTI, and content import and delivery through Common Cartridge and SCORM.

11. We would also need an exit strategy, and be able to take our stuff with us should OpenClass become inadequate for us. Again, support for IMS open standards are key.

ANSWER: OpenClass will support standards based export.

12. Seamless out-of-the-box OpenClass integration with Google Apps is great, but that's already possible with Blackboard Learn and the free open-source Bboogle add-on from Northwestern, and Blackboard Learn itself is slated to have built-in Google Apps integration in 2012. What other key integrations are there?

ANSWER: We’ve built our integration through a close collaboration with Google and design partner institutions that have adopted Google Apps for Education. We invite interested institutions to take a look and see for themselves the unique approach we’ve taken and learn more about how we’re continually advancing this integration.

13. Blackboard Learn gives us a rather mature set of free, commercial, open-source, and built-in integration and add-ons that extent the Blackboard Learn teaching and learning environment. Third-party tools and integrations like plagiarism detection, voice tools, web conferencing systems, PhotoRosters, lecture capture systems, multiple publisher connections (not just Pearson), video distribution systems (like ShareStream and Kaltura, i.e. not just YouTube), text messaging systems, student response systems, personal learning networks, electronic portfolio systems, tutoring systems, student retention software, ad nauseam. Hundreds of LMS extensions, a smorgasbord of extensions. Many of these are also available for Desire2Learn, Moodle, Sakai and others. How can OpenClass be extended?

ANSWER: We are really excited about all the ways our partners will extend the features of OpenClass through integration. Over the next few months, we will be rolling out the OpenClass API Program. This rich set of tools and services will be available to both institutions and third parties at no cost – allowing for the rapid evolution of add on solutions available in OpenClass!

14. LMS mobile apps are a must, so we would assume OpenClass has them for all major mobile platforms: generic (but elegant and fluid) Mobile Web, iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Mobile?

ANSWER: Pearson is committed to mobile for OpenClass and to offering apps to institutions for free. In addition, we’ll be opening up our mobile API’s for intuitions to advance and customize as they choose.

15. Is OpenClass really meant to be an enterprise LMS? A replacement for Blackboard or Moodle or Canvas?

ANSWER: OpenClass is a full featured learning environment.  However, unlike commercially driven LMSs, there are few barriers to trying it out before committing to it as a replacement for other campus systems.  Since there is no money to be paid and no servers to be acquired, we expect many institutions to use OpenClass on a pilot or partial basis and then decide for themselves whether it has the features that they want for all or part of their campus.

16. … the yearly licensing costs for an LMS are actually the smallest part of the investment any institution makes in our LMS deployment.

ANSWER: True. But hosting and licensing together are a considerable part of the investment, and both of these are free with OpenClass.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Colt '45

Enjoyed Waiting for Disruption post about #Open Class by @KateMfD.

She had a couple nice things to say about us:

This week’s excitement has been the announcement by Pearson of their shakeup of the LMS experience... @Sannier brings serious university research and administrative experience to Pearson’s push into the edtech market, and I’m confident that he knows what he’s talking about when he says that the standard LMS has “only ever been an ineffective administrative tool … it’s closed, it’s clunky to use, it’s costly.”

And this is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me:
...his claim is a bit of a heartstopper for all the institutions who’ve woken up contractually handcuffed to the corpse of one or other dead LMS, for several years to come. It’s such a bold prediction that I’ve been distracted by visions of @Sannier delicately blowing the powder residue from the barrel of his Colt 45 as he enters the darkened saloon where the frightened townsfolk have been cowering.  Yup, the LMS as we knew it won’t be bothering us no more, no sir.
Though she did have some nice stuff to say, its clear reading her post I that while Kate is intrigued by the idea of OpenClass, she's skeptical we will do what we say and frustrated that we haven't shared more details. In fact she wonders why we announced it at all, until it was open to everyone.

This coming week at Educause we'll be demoing the first version of OpenClass and I'll be talking about it in my talk and in Google's booth. We'll capture the talk and post it too, so if you aren't in Philly this week, you will still get a chance to see it if you're interested. We'll be posting captures of the demos too.

OpenClass will also become available this week for download by Google Apps for Education institutions, through the Google Apps Marketplace. That will let us grow the number of institutions we've been working with beyond the our design partner institutions and systems that have been helping us so far.

We don't mean to be frustrating, we're just trying to proceed carefully. We want to make sure we create an offering that works for a broad swath of education and is attractive to institutions, faculty, students, and educational content/technology innovators.

Thought it has benefitted from years of Pearson technology investments, OpenClass itself is less than a year old. We started in January with an idea of our own, and went around to 50 or so institutions around the country, talking to their CIO's, presidents, provosts and academic technology teams to learn more. Everywhere we went, the ideas behind OpenClass got an enthusiastic reception.

In July, we deployed the OC to our design partners and we've been honing since, preparing to support the next wave of schools. We chose the Google institutions because we felt those schools would be most receptive to our free, cloud based offering -- in many ways we've structured the OpenClass offering around the Google Apps for Education model so it will be easy for those schools to begin using it.

In the first half of next year we want to continue to widen the community of institutions using OpenClass, and to expand OpenClass beyond just institutions to general availability. We will also be working with our growing community to understand:
  • how to best extend the social learning experience and 
  • how to best structure the LearningExchange, to make it a useful place for professors and other course creators to invent or discover best practices, to discuss and improve them, and to adopt and adapt them into their own courses easily.
  • how to best support the RESTful web services that underlay all of OpenClass's user experience and make them open to developers
Because I'm very interested in seeing OpenClass grow, I'm hoping enough folks will have patience with us while we prove our value proposition and grow our community. We are trying hard to listen.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

OpenClass Announced Today!!

An exciting day here in Denver as the first coverage on our new, FREE LMS offering OpenClass broke this morning with articles in the Chronicle, Inside Higher Ed, MarketWatch, and Campus Technology, among many others.

Loved Lev Gonick's quote:

 I think that [OpenClass] really marks another, and important, nail in the coffin of the proprietary last-generation LMS
Also loved Kevin Roberts quote:   
We truly believe OpenClass is a disruptive technology in Education.
Pearson is tweeting about the OC from @JoinOpenClass. The hash tag #OpenClass has been getting a goodly amount of activity today as well. For example:  
Stoked beyond belief. New Pearson product #OpenClass is going to blow up the higher ed world. This is gonna be huge!
Watch out Blackboard!
Freer than Moodle!
Beginning of the cloud based edtech revolution.
Noticed there was some attempt by Blackboard evangelists to try to equate CourseSites with OpenClass, but make no mistake -- when it comes to free, OpenClass is in a class by itself. Blackboard's CourseSites is confined to individual professors with a limited number of courses. OpenClass supports whole institutions at no cost, a thing Blackboard charges dearly for.

It's a new day and our team couldn't be more fired up to bring some disruption into this marketspace.

Thanks to Pearson for backing our play.