We are just as surprised as everyone else in our state that Blackboard has purchased Angel. Here is a message we received recently from Cable Green, the eLearning director at the state board for community and technical colleges.
As you know, Blackboard (Bb) has announced it is acquiring ANGEL. Twenty-nine of our system colleges have either moved to ANGEL or have plans to do so in the coming months (see below).
I spoke with ANGEL’s CEO on Wednesday and will speak with ANGEL and Bb’s CEOs next week. If you have any questions you’d like me to ask Michael Chasen (Bb CEO), please send them to me. For example, I am going to suggest he make ANGEL the main software and supplement it with the best of Blackboard’s features… and adopt ANGEL’s customer service models.
What happens now? Nothing changes in the short-term.
WashingtonOnline will turn off its Blackboard software license on June 30, 2009 and will complete its transition to ANGEL. We will proceed with existing ANGEL deployment plans, full integration with SMS, and faculty professional development activities. The WAOL technology fee remains the same low $4 / user / quarter (unlimited use).
We will closely watch (at least) six things over the next 1-2 years:
Does ANGEL technical (hosting and premium admin) support remain solid?
- When Bb bought WebCT, WebCT support waned. We will be monitoring this very closely.
Are there continued investments in the ANGEL platform re: functionality?
- … as evidenced in multiple substantive “dot” releases
Does Bb give our system representation on their highest advisory and product development councils?
- I have already requested a seat on Bb’s Client Advisory Council.
Will Bb commit to keeping our contract pricing stable after our 3-year contract expires?
- I will be pushing to drive our prices lower due to our systems’ online growth and increased use.
What does Bb signal about their short, mid and long term plans for ANGEL LMS and ePortfolio products?
- re: maintaining the product lines, end-of-life, and/or transition planning to Bb NG.
If Bb does merge ANGEL and Bb products, what are the ANGEL-to-new tool migration tools and paths?Blackboard’s words will mean little – we shall watch their actions and hold them accountable to the service terms in our contracts.
If Blackboard behaves well and meets our expectations, we’ll have a system conversation about renewing our contract. If they do not, there is nothing to stop us from running an RFP at the end of our contract (expires June 30, 2011). No one wants to migrate again / ever, but that is the power we have to demand excellent service and continued low pricing from Blackboard… and I shall remind them of it.
Regardless of what Blackboard does or does not do, we will be successful in bringing innovative online, hybrid and web-enhanced learning spaces to our students and faculty.
Feel free to call me with any questions, suggestions or comments.
Cable Green, PhD