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Knowledge, power and mobilising a lobby through Wikipedia
Last night I added my tuppence worth to Wikipedia's entry on the History of Virtual Learning Environments. As manager of an online learning consortium in the late nineties, I helped the software company Fretwell-Downing Education build a pilot web-based Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Though you would not know it from the entry as it stands at the time of writing, the description I've added of this case study — and the catalogue of others being collected in the Wikipedia entry — are not there just to add to the store of the world's knowledge: they are there to prove a point. Last week the e-learning systems company Blackboard announced that it had been issued a patent (in the US) covering a number of software features that have been standard components of VLEs for several years. This quickly had several e-learning bloggers up in arms: I found out about it from Jay Cross and Seb Schmoller; and Stephen Downes has a good round-up as usual. I share the widespread contempt for this development, and the disrepute that it brings on the ethos of patents. That's why I was more than happy to add my contribution to the Wikipedia entry to demonstrate...
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