So I’ve been fairly critical of the Pearson/Google LMS – I really don’t like the idea of Google getting it’s hands on educational demographic data – especially in the K-12 market, which is a market that many advertisers salivate over (kids after all, drive parental purchase decisions). I also dislike the idea that one publisher has a step up in regards to content published within the LMS. When I hear the words “open” and “free”, I don’t think of Google (although Android is a tasty alternative mobile OS) or Pearson. Stephen Downes started a thread on Google+ that deals with a lot of the criticisms that I raise as well.
Pearson, in my experience, have tried to muscle in on LMS territory for a long while. I can recall being embedded in a Language Studies department and Pearson making presentations to faculty about how things like MyCommLab, their textbook/website/testing one-stop solution and boasted of their integration with a series of LMSs. Well, they couldn’t exchange marks data with Desire2Learn, and they couldn’t even think of how First Class might integrate with it. Turns out the integration they had was with Blackboard (which wasn’t available at my institution).
Even when presented with a space on Desire2Learn, Pearson couldn’t figure out a good way to export marks from the MyCommLab to Desire2Learn. Now they may have fixed that issue, I haven’t worked with Pearson or my former employer for a year now. Somehow I doubt it. Technologically, it’s actually not that hard, myCommLab would have to export a CSV in the way that D2L expects it. Even more slick would be an XML transfer of data using the IMS standards and some ASP/PHP code to facilitate that exchange. Seems that Pearson and I have different ideas of what “open” and “free” mean.
Here’s another issue. Google makes a lot of money gathering information about you. They already know a lot, and they do see knowing you as a value statement. Combine knowing about you and what you want to know about in school provides a whole different dimension of you. I’ve harped on about how different facets of one’s life manifest themselves in different online personas. Google+ doesn’t allow for my school persona to be apart from my record collecting punk persona or my techno-programmer persona. Google (and Facebook) sees me as one person, and that one person can only have one persona. If you look at my Amazon profile, you’ll see I’ve bought conspiracy books, edtech books, punk history books, an anime DVD and a VHS to USB dongle. It’s a bit of a mish mash. Amazon recommends some weird stuff, most of it correct, but it doesn’t have the context to understand that the conspiracy books were gifts for my brother (at his request). I don’t have much time for conspiracies the equivalent of modern day science fiction. Google is attempting, by gathering all your data from all your personas, to understand you real world contexts.
Those misgivings aside, my cynical side wants to have more separation between publishers and academics (much like the illusionary separation of church and state).
NOTE: After I originally posted this, Google has clarified it’s position with the OpenClass LMS. Which makes OpenClass even less useful in my opinion. I still wonder if I can import a McGraw Hill package into a course?