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Microsoft's Vision for Higher Ed and Lecture Capture
October 21, 2009 - 8:46pm

Have you guys seen Microsoft's video on technology enabled collaborative learning?

The video description reads:

What if learning was an adventure? What if we could cross the boundaries of language, location, and devices? This video presents a vision for a learning experience that is more collaborative with easy sharing of information. Microsoft technologies aim to deliver a seamless flow between lifestyle and learning, and new ways to collaborate.

Go check it out and share the video. MS could use the traffic, as of this writing it has been shared 52 times.

Is Microsoft's vision of higher education one that resonates with you?

My take is that we seem to have a significant gap between the vision and the reality of Microsoft in higher ed. As was noted in the NYT's article "Forecast for Microsoft: Partly Cloudy" (10/17/09):

While [Microsoft] still commands a prominent and profitable position in computing, brand experts say consumers stumble when trying to define what the company stands for and whether it can create a grander technological future.

This is doubly true in higher education. Microsoft is in danger of becoming irrelevant at the front-lines of learning and teaching. How much space does Microsoft's products and services occupy in the minds of our students? From what I can see not much. Ray Ozzie should be worried about this.

Our community would benefit if we could help Microsoft invest some of the $30 billion it has in cash in educational technology companies and projects. Microsoft has the scale and expertise to realize much of their own educational vision if they were willing to invest in existing ed. tech. companies and then engage in a long game to gain relevancy in teaching and learning. Looking at Project Tuva it is clear to me that Microsoft cares deeply about participating in learning.

If I were Ray Ozzie, or whoever runs Microsoft Higher Education (who does run MS higher ed? - the site drives me crazy that it does not seem to have any real people attached to the work) - then I'd consider the following steps:

1. Buy into the lecture capture market. You have plenty of options. Tegrity, Echo360, Sonic Foundry, to name a few.

2. Use the Microsoft cloud infrastructure (and vertical sell opportunities for e-mail/calendaring/applications/sharepoint etc.) to drive down the cost of lecture capture.

3. Offer institutions the option of low-cost lecture capture in exchange for publicly sharing campus related learning captures. Monetize all this by building up a robust educational channel on There is an opportunity to leap frog past iTunesU and YouTube/EDU with an integrated lecture capture and publishing platform. Advertise against the lecture content, generated by your low-cost but high service lecture capture platforms.

4. Use successful platforms like the XBox Live service as another route to distribute and monetize lectures.

Lecture capture, I think, offers a great win-win for both Microsoft and higher education. The market is fragmented. Prices are too high. Content is locked up. At the same time, lecture and presentation capture are supporting trends for open education and student-based learning. By democratizing lecture capture by driving down prices, and building a model that incentivizes schools to widely share their educational content, Microsoft could immediately become central to learning and teaching on campus.


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