Blackboard has published a white paper on the Networked Learning Environment. The publication date is shown as October 2004 but I don’t recall seeing it or hearing of it previously. Perhaps that’s just my failing memory.
The paper echoes ideas that are being heard elsewhere. The general flavour is indicated by this paragraph from the executive summary:
A Networked Learning Environment in the Internet age applies new technology to a very old concept— that learning is much more than classes and grades. It is about the learning that takes place in a vibrant community of people and resources. The Internet has removed the limits of time and proximity that once restricted this community. In a true Networked Learning Environment, any student, instructor or researcher can access any learning resource at anytime from anyplace.
The interesting question might be just how open to the world a future learning environment built by Blackboard (or WebCT or the other majors) might be. Are they really proposing to open up and create a genuinely learner centred experience or would that be possible only within a network of peered environments built on Blackboard or associated products? Can a proprietary environment, even if it is using open standards, deliver the flexibility necessary for rapid evolution of learning environments? Those and other questions may need to be answered as we work towards a decision about our future LMS.