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History of Virtual Learning Environments

Last modified 11 Aug, 2006
Published 11 Aug, 2006
e-Learning patent provides stimulus for collective history of virtual learning environments to develop

At eLearning Focus we have been thinking for a long time about the need for a history of e-learning and have been wondering about how we could make this happen given the challenge of capturing the huge range and richness of activity that has happened over at least the last three or four decades (where should it start? do we include Vannever Bush's 1945 paper As we may think in this? )

One of the fascinating outcomes of the recent patent application by Blackboard has been a rapidly growing wikipedia page, originated by Michael Feldstein, on the History of Virtual Learning Environments which is proving to be a far more effective method of gathering this history than any attempt by a set of individuals could be.

This patent has generated an enormous amount of debate and discussion in many lists and education blogs. It is significant in the present context of the move towards service oriented approaches in education, often involving open source elements, as exemplified through the focus of the projects funded through the JISC e-Learning Programme, the e-Framework and major projects such as TenCompetence. It raises the question of deciding at what point a certain combination of services providing the infrastructure for e-learning would qualify as a system ... for implementing education online..?

More information -

Blackboard press release

Full text of patent

The pictures from the patent via Mike Malloch

Abstract of the patent

A system and methods for implementing education online by providing institutions with the means for allowing the creation of courses to be taken by students online, the courses including assignments, announcements, course materials, chat and whiteboard facilities, and the like, all of which are available to the students over a network such as the Internet. Various levels of functionality are provided through a three-tiered licensing program that suits the needs of the institution offering the program. In addition, an open platform system is provided such that anyone with access to the Internet can create, manage, and offer a course to anyone else with access to the Internet without the need for an affiliation with an institution, thus enabling the virtual classroom to extend worldwide.


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