Prior to this year's EDUCAUSE Annual Conference, Pearson announced a new "self-service learning management system (LMS)" called OpenClass. Billed as being completely free, OpenClass integrates with Google Apps for Education and is available from the Google Apps Marketplace. The user interface (UI) is stunning. It's as if a traditional LMS was given a facelift by the Google Docs team (Note that Google did not create OpenClass). The interface is simple and reminds me of a blog. It's more web 2.0 in look and feel. The top portion of the UI features Gmail, Google Calendar, Gchat, Google Docs, and Skype icons. With such an aesthetically pleasing UI (coupled with useful functionality) I predict that students will love using OpenClass.
So why is this important to those of us who work in Student Affairs? Why does Pearson matter? And, more importantly, why do we need to know Adrian Sannier, Senior Vice President of Learning Technologies at Pearson?
Well, in my experience, Student Affairs generally gets left behind during campus technology conversations. Academic Advising functions, Career Services tools, and Student Conduct management systems (to name a few examples) are usually nowhere near as integrated as they could and/or should be with the technology that our peers in Academic Affairs get to use. OpenClass has the potential to be the go-to system for not just academic affairs, but for all of student affairs as well. Pearson is a strategic company. They most-likely would engage us in this conversation if we even knew of their existence. Adrian Sannier is a dynamic and charismatic technology leader. His vision and energy around OpenClass is contagious. And, he's willing to engage in a dialog with us. He wrote a detailed response to Inside Higher Ed's Joshua Kim. When Joshua asked, Adrian answered.
How amazing would it be if Adrian, Pearson et al. integrated student affairs functionality into OpenClass? Let's start with a robust CRM component. Add a dash of analytics and we might be looking at the future -- today. C'mon Adrian, you know we've been waiting patiently for this. Think of 37 Signals, but for higher education...for all of us, sans silos.
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