Blackboard announced today they have bought two similar companies, Wimba and Elluminate. With an aim to integrate into their Blackboard LMS, Blackboard have also stated that they want to retain both Wimba and Elluminate as standalone products.
An interesting move in many ways, there has been a growing interest and increase in use of synchronous tools such as Wimba and Elluminate, as though asynchronous tools that you could use are too “difficult” or “challenging” to use.
Both Wimba and Elluminate reinforce the use of the lecture as a way of delivering learning. Whereas VLE tools such as discussion forums and blogs are much more about learners “delivering” the learning through collaboration and discussion.
However I do wonder of the growth of tools like Wimba and Elluminate is less of a move away from asynchronous tools, but more as a result of an increase in practitioners embracing new technologies. These new users of technology are more comfortable with a technology that replicates what they are use to, rather than try the new pedagogies and ways of working that unknown technologies require.
So what of the Blackboard acquisition? Well technologies come and go, we will have to see what happens! Where is WebCT now?