New Blackboard Executive Starts Blog, Opts Not to Use BB’s “Blogging” Option

—Another mock Chronicle article – it’s probably getting tiresome but it’s entertaining me right now.

original article here by JEFFREY R. YOUNG
footnotes, italics, scare quotes on blog and a few minor deletions by me . . .

The new head of Blackboard Inc.‘s course-management-software division, Ray Henderson, started a “blog” this week, and he’s already facing tough questions from critics. Blackboard’s top management wanted to know just what the hell this “blog” thing was and if there was a way to charge people extra for it.

Eager to prove that he plans to bring change to Blackboard, Mr. Henderson declared that his “blog” is a sign of more transparent times. “Me joining the company means we’re going to communicate more often and more openly,” he wrote in his opening post on Tuesday. “We are even considering responding to phone calls from clients who pay less than $500,000 a year in fees.”

“I’m excited about having a spot where I can muse out loud about my take on various things in eLearning, and have other folks weigh in with theirs,” he added. “In particular, I’ve got lots to say on the whole openness, standards, interoperability question. It’ll be particularly nice because if I talk about this stuff on company grounds I’ll be fired.

He allows comments on the blog, though he says he is moderating them before they go live. “I’m dipping my toe in the previously uncharted waters for Blackboard of having comments turned on in this blog,” he explained in a note on the blog. “Not revolutionary I know and really required for an interesting exchange. But a new step for Blackboard nonetheless and one we’re taking gradually. Afterall, it’s not like we’re some new fangled company focused on web-based technology or something!

Still, Mr. Henderson has allowed plenty of critical voices on the site so far. “Tell your new Blackboard colleagues to drop the lawsuit with D2L,” wrote one commenter, referring to the company’s patent-infringement lawsuit against Desire2Learn, another company making course-management software. “Start putting education (not litigation) first.” Another commenter said that Blackboard promised more open communication with customers last time it bought a rival, when it bought WebCT in 2007, but did not deliver. The blog commenter asked: “Why should we believe what you are saying this time?”

Mr. Henderson wrote a reply today to some of the questions. He punted on the patent issue: “Step one is for BlackBoard to win the suit or buy D2L. Until we do so it’s not something I’ll talk about here.” And he closed with a cliffhanger: “To the question about what’s new this time around as Bb and ANGEL come together, there are some really important differences that I’ll be addressing directly in the next week or two.”

Mr. Henderson then cackled wildly, drank deeply from a cup that looked disturbingly like a human skull and flew off on bat-like wings.

Comments on this post

  1. Jim said on June 14, 2009 at 2:01 am

    The Blackboard employees all got human skull mugs at the last ANGEL conference.

  2. Ray Henderson said on June 14, 2009 at 7:09 am

    Well played, Tom!


    • Tom said on June 14, 2009 at 7:27 am


      I’m glad it didn’t offend you. My wife seemed to think the human skull stuff was over the top. Now, I can write ANYTHING!

      I really do hope you’re able to change the personality of the company. It’ll be a long, rough road.

  3. Fred Hagemeister said on June 14, 2009 at 7:40 am

    Hmm, another way to go on the communicating more often and openly might be along the lines of buyouts/litigations. Of course this whole complaint is taken up too much of the conversation since it happens in nonacademic business sectors all the time without so much reacted surprise.

    • Tom said on June 14, 2009 at 9:06 am

      I figure the idea of monopoly, irrational patent lawsuits etc. ought to be looked at more closely in all sectors. If academics happens to be one where they’ll actually pay attention to the idea then more power to them.

  4. ben reynolds said on June 14, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Obviously censored out of this article was the fact that Angel employees instantly turned into flying monkeys and headed to Australia in pursuit of Martin Dougiamas.

    • Tom said on June 14, 2009 at 9:08 am


      You can’t expose people to so much truth all at once. It’d be like exposing a formerly blind man to the Mona Lisa as his first sight. We’ve got to work up to the flying monkeys. Don’t worry, we’ll get there.

  5. Joseph Ugoretz said on June 14, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Even your parody headline is sharp! It’s a typepad blog.

    Keep the parodies coming!

    • Tom said on June 14, 2009 at 11:55 am

      Thanks Joseph. I’m probably entertaining 3 or 4 people (and I’m one of them) but that’s ok.

      I’ll probably keep doing it simply for the therapeutic benefits.

  6. Bill Tozier said on June 14, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    You’re entertaining me a great deal, and thus providing solace for at least one forgotten victim of a Chronicle “interview”. And I’m a “Mr.” victim, as well!

    • Tom said on June 14, 2009 at 7:47 pm

      Bill –

      Well, if I’m now providing solace for victims of Chronicle oppression then I have renewed energy to keep up the fight.