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Transparency and Pearson's Free OpenClass LMS: 4 Ideas
October 23, 2011 - 9:38pm

Michael Feldstein has a terrific post over on his e-Literate blog: "Why Pearson’s OpenClass Is a Big Deal."

Michael's post triggered thoughts on 4 areas in which I'd like to see Pearson demonstrate transparency around OpenClass:

1. Utilize the OpenClass as an Extranet Platform: Pearson should be able to figure out a way to very quickly set-up an OpenClass course site that acts as a community extranet around all things OpenClass. Let our community get our hands on the tool while using the platform for discussion and sharing around OpenClass. We will all quickly discover how well OpenClass scales in terms of users, how strong the (much hyped) social features are, and how well the platform works for document sharing, discussion, and interaction.

2. Aggregate the Discussion: Putting up an open OpenClass course site about OpenClass for our community is not enough. Pearson should make the commitment to build out the site with as many documents and materials about OpenClass as possible. Everything from presentations to technical documents. This public site should also be where any news articles or blog posts are aggregated.  Pearson should keep engaging across the news and social media ed tech ecosystem, but be willing to bring back everything that references OpenClass to this site. Of course, the site should bring in social media streams from Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc. etc. as well.

3. Publish All Costs - Particularly SIS Integration Costs: The real potential disruptor for OpenClass is not features, or cloud, or even a content marketplace (which could be interesting), but free. Free should change the game. Free should allow Pearson to have a different set of conversations with our community than is normally possible. Along with this new conversation should be an unwavering commitment on Pearson's part to publish all costs associated with OpenClass. The main costs that should be estimated and published quickly are SIS integration costs. My understanding is that Pearson is not looking for integration to be a profit center, but rather will partner with schools on the SIS integration and charge basically at cost. The SIS integration question will mark the difference between OpenClass being a marketing tool to OpenClass being a real disruptor in the enterprise LMS market. Pearson also has the latitude, I believe, to require all enterprise OpenClass academic partners to agree to share project adoption documents and to also be transparent about costs (both direct and indirect). 

4. Publish All Adoptions: Pearson should go out of its way to publish figures and narratives around client enterprise adoptions. The decision and process to switch from an existing LMS to OpenClass should be an open process, on both sides.   

I continue to believe that Pearson made a bad call by not separating the OpenClass division from the Pearson (and LearningStudio) mothership. An independent LMS, backed by Pearson, would have made (I believe) our community much more comfortable with OpenClass as an alternative enterprise LMS play.   It is a high bar indeed to adopt an LMS with "Pearson" (or any publisher) so closely associated with the product.   Here the XBox model is the right one, as the XBox team benefitted from the resources and people and technology of Microsoft, but was given the freedom to create a new culture and brand.   Given that Pearson did not take this step, I think it is critically important that the OpenClass team goes above and beyond in areas of transparency and openness.  

How would you like to see Pearson be transparent with OpenClass? 


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