Users of Blackboard Collaborate
I've sent a question to Blackboard regarding the cost of licensing options but still waiting to hear back
so in the meantime just in case someone here knows..
Isn't there an option to have Collaborate incorporated into your own website, ie. an API?
Is this mega bucks?
I have done extensive testing and Blackboard Collaborate IS the best system out there for what I need. However the fees are crazy and I cannot justify the cost. Coursesites is a possible solution but again it's not desirable to have to go through a third party system to get to your courses and again takes away from creating a professional identity.
Just out of curiosity, if the $500 level vOffice were still availble would that have made it a no-brainer, "jump in with two feet, 'let's go' solution?
The reason I am asking is that I really feel that dropping the vOffice level was a bad business move on Blackboard's part. I am thinking that perhaps an appeal from enough people that would make a purchase if it were available could revive it and bring it back in some form. All the other options out there have a rung on the ladder at that level for their services. With Blackboard Collaborate not having that level anymore the impression is that the product is too 'big-organization' for the 'little guy'. I am afraid that the negative feelings from 'little guys' that will grow to be bigger players some day is that they will have grown up with the competition and have strong negative feeling about Blackboard to boot.
I feel a strong sense of loyalty from the Elluminate days, and so my heart breaks when I see the loyal Elluminate fans dissed and the little guys locked out. I want to get the attention of Blackboard way up there in the clouds and get them to see they are shooting themselves in the foot in some of these decisions.
OK, OK, I am off my soapbox. I love,love, love Elluminate/Collaborate and the team that does the development. I too believe it is the best tool out there. I have been a regular participant in webinars using competitor's webinar software. I attend the weekly eLearning suite seminars. Adobe Connects audio issues are shameful when the audience size isn't even very large. Often the audio drop outs get so bad that you cannot get enough of the audio stream to piece together what the presenter is saying. People are constantly typing in to the chat box about the fact their audio is so bad. I just don't want the success of Collaborate's design and the Blackboard LMS myopia make them loose touch with the non-Blackboard-LMS users out here and the little guys that are just starting out that will be big-guys in their niche some day and could then pay the bigger subscription rates. :0)
I would not pay $500 for vOffice or vClass as it is too restrictive.
I have been quoted €2000 for the basic vClass option and this would still mean not having my own Logo or brand color and every time a student would leave a session would be directed back to a Blackboard promotional page.
I put a lot of work into my business and I don't think that I should pay €2000 be a billboard for
Blackboard everytime a student logs in or out of a session.
I have been quoted about €12,500 for the level which would allow customization.
Compare this to Electa Live which offers website integration for $39.90/month. and is not too far
What a pity!
eLectra Live has some interesting licensing models. It gives more rungs in the ladder between price levels. We were/are maxing out our one room at the vClass level late last summer. I was actually mid-process ordering a vOffice room to handle our small overflow (I would use the vOffice for my own classes freeing up some space in our vClass level room) when I found out the vOffice was being discontinued. We just barely need the next level up, so a $2000/yr to a 15,000/yr (maybe 12,500, but we were quoted !5,000) jump is too much of a nose bleed for us.
It's been very interesting for me to watch the transitions that have taken place as Blackboard purchased Elluminate. And I know that it is natural to watch the changes take place and assume the worst, not realizing the complexities of decision-making in bigger organizations or the variety of factors that affect them. I personally think that the closure of LearnCentral was the right decision, and am hopeful that we can replicate many of the benefits here at WeCollaborate.
You've continued to be a great contributor to all things Elluminate/Collaborate, Tammy, and I know you are appreciated. I think you're GREAT!
Hi, Will. You ask good questions!
Collaborate and (previously) Elluminate, from my history with the companies (I was employed full time with Elluminate, and now am part-time with Collaborate), were really built for large-scale implementations rather than individual use. I'm sure that had a significant impact on many aspects of how the both the program and the sales strategies were developed, since the needs around delivering guaranteed huge numbers of minutes to large-scale institutions who are using the product all day, every day, with students ends up being the most important priorities.
Unfortunately, that means that the business models of selling to individual customers that some other services employ isn't really Collaborate's niche, and isn't our expertise or priority. And I'm sure that's frustrating to someone who really likes the capabilities that have been developed in the program!
I'm asking some other folks at Collaborate to look at this thread, so that there is an internal understanding of your frustration, and also in case there are responses to it that I'm not aware of. I do appreciate your contributions here on the network to understand and use Collaborate.
I am thinking that the bigger organization focus fits in with understanding the closure of LC. The large organizations usually get their upper level training staff trained by Collaborate trainers and then they take care of support and training in-house from there. Learn-Central attracted some of the instructors in the large organizations, but mostly the smaller ones were active there. If their focus is the larger organizations and those were asked about the benefit of LC, it would make sense that the larger ones wouldn't find LC useful with their own in-house support being seen as providing that for their own people.
I think LC gave the impression that Elluminate was big on the little guys too because there were so many of us little to medium-sized fish active there. All that activity seemed to show that the largest part of the customer-base were users down near the bottom of the food chain even though it was apparent there were larger fish in the water too. I think understanding this now and it gives some perspective.
Some day we will be up there with the big fish because I know what we are doing has a bright and big future. Though, I don't intend to ever have an in-house support attitude. I love to share with the entire community and love mixing with all the fish in the sea. I think the community is a very important part of what makes Elluminate/Collaborate special. It benefits all of us whether we are small or large in the grand scheme of it all. :0)
So, I think your description is accurate, and it also probably would help to understand what LearnCentral was and how it started. LearnCentral was more than a user community, it was actually an ambitious project created to bring together social networking and synchronous meetings in a way that would be new to both. As such, it required considerable programming and staff resources, and was a customize and hosted platform that was not inexpensive to maintain. As much as I would like to tell you that we were successful in accomplishing that vision, we weren't, and maintaining LearnCentral for what it had essentially become--a user community--would have been to (candidly) use a wrong and very expensive tool for a job it wasn't doing very well. I am SO appreciative of all the work that was done on LearnCentral, but we all experienced the consistent slowness of the network, the problems getting to a linked page if you weren't already logged in, etc.
It's also important to note that three years is a long time in Internet/Web time, and during that time it has been interesting to see how Ning continued--even without substantial upgrades--to maintain and grow its role as a discussion platform, and to have become the most familiar networking tool for education. So when we asked ourselves how we could best help Collaborate users to talk to each other, to provide help and resources for the product, and to really make a difference for users long-term, it seemed smart to tap my expertise with Ning and refocus there (I did work for Ning for 18 months as their education consultant, and Classroom 2.0 is probably the most recognizable social network for educators).
I hope that helps to give some context. I completely understand the frustration of a platform change, along with what appear to have been shifts in the sales focus. I took the job with Elluminate originally because I had used the platform and was a huge fan, and the truth is that I still am. I'm hoping we can continue to work together in fun and productive ways, really making a difference for students and educators!
This is so frustrating! THERE IS NO OTHER SYSTEM that gives me as close to what I need as Collaborate. vClass offers a room with a capacity for 50 students...I don't need more than 5 -10 but I would gladly pay €2000 if I could customise the identity and not have that link back to Collaborate at the end of a session. It's just SO unprofessional! It gives the student such a cheap impression of the system...and it's not cheap!
Surely that's not much to ask that for €2000 you could at least have your own Logo and a link back to your school website?
Incidentally does this link still kick in on the more expensive licensing options?
Again, this is great feedback. I can't guarantee that it will change the roadmap for Collaborate, but you're sure making a great case! :)
There are configurations of Collaborate that allow you to establish the post-session URL yourself. I don't know of any standard offering to allow your own logo-ing, but I'm not in the sales group so I might not be in the know...
The Post-session URL is a great feature available for individual configuration, if one has access to the server administration page. Large-scale customers having a SAS contract (or ELM coming soon) may change the URL themselves, while contracts without customer-access to the backend have a fixed setting.
During the last year, Valerie started a campaign to evaluate customer´s success along the change from Elluminate v10 to Collaborate v11 by leading anybody to a vendor survey page as post-session URL, even for paid V-type contracts (vOffice, vClass). This did come to an end, as the survey statistics tended negative by many users feeling terrified to repeat their opinion on v11 again and again.
For trial versions (vRooms) it remains acceptable to have a fixed URL setting. Actually, my vRoom does lead to the Collaborate main URL, but my vOffice does not have any post-URL-setting (Free Live Classroom on Coursesites.com same behavior: No post-session URL set).
Coming back to my first sentence, Blackboard support is the instance having access to the V-type administration backend. It should be possible for you to open a support ticket requesting deletion/change of the post-session URL, if you have a paid contract, which includes support.
My clients dreamed of a Vclass contracting process, where I send an own customized introductory whiteboard (client´s logo on a localized start page) and a post-session-URL together with the signed contract. For small or medium sized organizations, this should be a sufficient branding option. On the vendor side, this would be cheap to provide, as it does not require to give customers access to any server admin page nor need to change any code on the server. It is simply an override of the default setting.
One remark on Learncentral vs. Ning:
Most members of Learncentral.Org did use the free functions only. Tammy explained, why this was aiming for individuals and small organizations. But there was a paid feature very interesting for large organizations too:
The "vOffice settings" page on Learncentral was a GREAT step to give each customer a limited access to some server-side parameter settings (name, rights granting, max. no of talkers/cams, ...). This (Drupal-)bridge connectivity was a remarkable USP! I know some vClass customers demanding that Learncentral dashboard on their contracts!
Next steps like self-setting of the post-session-URL and other useful tayloring seemed to be within reach.In fact, Learncentral.Org was a sneak preview demonstration server, what Blackboard Collaborate CMS bridges might offer in the future - available for any customer using Drupal CMS including large scale campus and enterprise scenarios.
For sure, Ning will never fit into that shoe, because it is a hosted service, not a CMS, where the owner can load a Blackboard Collaborate bridge extension.
Well, I´m still dreaming, this is not on the Blackboard pricelist. Hope, some Collaborate product manager will read this thread.