Planet Sakai

August 13, 2017

Michael Feldstein

BbWorld Report: Blackboard May Be Turning Around

We’ve written similar headlines after past BbWorlds only to be disappointed, so it’s prudent to be cautious. We also need to be clear on what “turning around” does and does not mean. That said, this time feels different.1

Kinds of Evidence of LMS Supplier Health

Given the cautions above, it’s worth taking some time to look at the types of evidence we gather and what each type can or cannot tell us before diving into the conference analysis:

  1. Changes in adoptions and market share: For investors and competitors, these are the measures you are trying to predict (from among the measures that we usually talk about at e-Literate). The other measures just help to anticipate changes in these ones. For customers and prospective customers, these indicators are useful but less dispositive. They provide a reasonably good sense of how stable the provider is and how well received the product and provider combination are being received by the wide world of current and potential customers. For all audiences, they are trailing indicators. They provide hard, objective data about decisions that colleges and universities have made but not about decisions that they are about to make.
  2. LMS evaluation processes and RFPs: We can learn a lot about imminent change in adoptions and market share by what happens when colleges and universities start LMS evaluations. Which LMS vendor’s current customers are going out to bid most often? When they go out to bid, which LMSs do they decide to evaluate seriously and which ones do they skip? What kinds of questions do they ask? How well do the vendors respond to the evaluators’ questions, and what do the evaluators make of the vendors’ answers? The evaluation data aren’t always good predictors of how happy the schools will be with their choices—a lot depends on how well they run their evaluation processes—but they do give us some indications about how well the vendors understand their customers’ and prospective customers’ needs and perspectives, as well as some information about how well they are executing as a company. This can also be something of a lagging indicator for current and prospective customers because real substantial changes in the company are generally transmitted from central management outward and can reach the sales force last.
  3. Customer sentiment: Are customers happy? Do they feel like their supplier is responsive? Have they noticed a change in responsiveness (good or bad)? How have their recent experiences been with new releases and support services? Customer sentiment tells us how the company is performing for customers right now, but it’s hard to gather in more than an impressionistic way.
  4. New features and other anouncements: There are two primary types of questions these announcements can help answer for current and prospective customers. First, is the supplier filling gaps or fixing problems that will impact customer satisfaction (and therefore demonstrating awareness of the areas where they are underperforming)? Second, what does the pattern of announcements tell us about where the supplier think customers’ new and future needs will be and which of those needs they think they can fulfill? New announcements are a leading indicator of company direction. We will occasionally provide our initial opinions about the quality of the new features, but those should be taken with a grain of salt. We don’t believe we can get a reliable read on the “quality” of any feature until a variety of customers have used it in real-world situations.
  5. Management public and private presentations and discussions: This is probably the most subjective but also potentially the most revealing leading indicator of both company focus and likelihood that their quality of execution will improve or deteriorate. It has the most value when it is interpreted in the context of the previous four types of indicators.

Of these indicators, we don’t get a lot of new information on the first two at LMS conferences. We get our data on the first one primarily through our data partnership with LISTedTECH and the second one primarily through a combination of the LISTedTECH partnership and our experiences consulting for colleges and universities on their LMS RFP processes. So I’m going to give a brief(ish) summary of these two and then spend the bulk of the post on the last three.

Context: Adoption and RFPs

Let’s be clear: In the United States and Canada, Blackboard is playing defense. For now, they are focused on reducing the number of current clients who go to RFP and, of those who do, increasing the percentage who stay with Blackboard. Winning new clients is something they’d like to do, of course, but they’re more focused in the short term on not losing clients. Everybody knows it. Multiple senior Blackboard executives acknowledged the fact or even volunteered it to me on the record at the conference. They are not getting many new implementations:

New Implementations NA CC

And of those new implentations they are getting, most are conversions from their legacy ANGEL platform:

Chord NA CC

In terms of evaluations, we haven’t seen evidence of Blackboard bottoming out yet. When non-Blackboard customers go to RFP, many of them don’t include Blackboard on their candidate short list. Those that do generally don’t pick Blackboard. (I’ll have more to say on this later in the post.) Meanwhile, Blackboard customers continue to go to RFP. A subset of those have already decided that they will not consider Blackboard. This should not be interpreted as a clear sign that Blackboard isn’t improving; some customers just reach the end of their patience and are no longer persuadable. What it does suggest is that, if there is substantial improvement, it is relatively recent. Nevertheless, we’re not yet seeing Blackboard change their win rate the way we are beginning to see it with D2L.

There are two major caveats to all of this. First, Blackboard scored a major win with the University of Phoenix’s new adoption of not just Blackboard in general but Ultra in particular.2 While the university is no longer the juggernaut that it once was, it is nevertheless still huge. We will continue to consider them a prospective client until they have actually migrated at scale. Blackboard was able to announce that from the main stage at BbWorld the University of Phoenix will be migrating to Ultra in the fall, which indicates progress, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

The second major caveat is that we are about to enter a new school year and, with it, a new round of RFPs. The migration pattern may change going forward. This is where the forward-looking indicators at the conference may provide us with some clues.

Customer Satisfaction

This BbWorld seemed to lack the same simmering discontent that characterized their conferences in the recent past. The attitude seemed neutral-positive. I heard consistently that more problems are being fixed with 9.x and the feature gap that have caused some schools to pass on Ultra is narrowing. There had been some issues with early migrations to SaaS that scared some customers away from considering it for the time being, but nobody I talked to was ruling it out; they were just waiting to be sure that the kinks were worked out first. Schools who migrated more recently seemed to have a better time of this. By the way, the migration issues were brought up by Blackboard executives on the main stage. As with the admission of playing defense on keeping customers, this is an example of a new public honestly that I observed from the company. I’ll have more evidence of this later in the post.

How many customers have migrated to SaaS? Blackboard claims a little over 200 have made the switch so far with over a hundred more either planning to migrate or piloting:

Screenshot 2017-08-12 12.52.25

So that’s a good sign.

By the way, here’s a third data point in terms of Blackboard’s honesty: One Blackboard executive, after bringing up the AWS competency certification that’s noted on the slide above, volunteered, “That’s not a differentiator. Our competitors have this certification too. It’s more that it would be a bad sign if we didn’t get it.”

Huh.

Late in the conference, I was able to speak with several customers who had had private meetings with Blackboard during the week. The common themes were improvement, honesty, responsiveness, and not-there-yet-but-getting-there-pretty-fast.

I have one other observation that doesn’t fall squarely under the heading of customer satisfaction but is related and also foreshadows some of the other observations I’m going to cover in this post. I went to several analytics sessions at the conference, including one at the Moodlemoot—yes, there was a Moodlemoot inside BbWorld; more on that later—and the discussions were interesting. I can’t remember being at an LMS conference where the Q&A portion of the analytics presentations were fulsome debates about the value, adoption, and ethics of learning analytics rather than on product features. But that’s exactly what I saw at BbWorld this year. It was almost as if I was at a conference that was about teaching and learning. The only other LMS community where I’ve seen multiple conference talks that were both grounded in pedagogy and theory focused (as opposed to “this is how to implement this pedagogical approach using this tool”) is (ironically enough) the Moodle community.

Announcements

Blackboard’s slides showing recent progress on both Original Experience for Learn and Ultra have a steady-as-she-goes feel to them:

Screenshot 2017-08-12 13.25.20

Screenshot 2017-08-12 13.25.46

The Ultra mix of new features is odd in an interesting way. On the one hand, the fact that the company only added fill-in-the-blank test questions and media capabilities in the rich text editor last quarter screams “Caution: Wet Paint.” On the other hand, “discussion insights” is an embedded analytics capability unique to Blackboard (as far as I know) that helps instructors sort through active discussions in large classes. The latter may be a requirement for their flagship Ultra client—the University of Phoenix—or an indicator that Blackboard is thinking differently about what they want to be considered a fundamental differentiator for Learn. Or both.

Blackboard Collaborate, their webconferencing platform, got a lot of love at the conference too. Our early experiences with the relatively new “Ultra” version of the platform were frankly rocky, but I heard nothing but raves about it from customers. And the company is clearly putting a lot of energy into it:

Collaborate

Blackboard has long been a portfolio company with lots of stuff to sell, but this year was the first time I’ve seen them walking the walk on truly integrating those products. For example, I saw a demo of their new Blackboard Instructor mobile app on a tablet which showed a workflow of a professor sending an announcement to students reminding them that a synchronous session was about to start and then launching an embedded Collaborate session. It was pretty slick.

In some ways, this fits a pattern that Phil noted in his D2L Fusion post that Instructure’s competitors are finally catching on to the notion that ease-of-use is not just a marketing slogan or another bullet point in a long list of bullet points. Perhaps the most revealing moment of the conference in this regard was when Blackboard’s VP of Teaching and Learning Phill Miller showed me this graph of the usage of Blackboard’s SafeAssign antiplagiarism tool:

SafeAssign

What happened in 2016? Blackboard integrated SafeAssign into the core grading workflow.

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Wait. You mean it wasn’t for all this time?” Nope. And that’s the point. Quantified, even. The value of a feature is only realized when the feature is used, and how often it is used depends heavily on how usable it is. In some cases dramatically so. All the LMS providers are now working to raise their respective games in terms of usability. But Blackboard in particular has some opportunities to increase value because of the breadth of their product suite. To the degree that they can simply improve workflows through better integration between their products, they can unlock a lot of latent value fairly quickly.

But let’s return to that new Instructor app for a moment. The emphasis is on improving instructor/student communication. Their separate (and older) speed grader-equivalent app will be merged with the new instructor app, but there appears to be a real company-wide focus on connecting humans with other humans in an educational context. This theme carried over into their analytics products—both embedded and stand-alone—which move away from Blackboard’s historic emphasis on reporting and beyond the industry’s fixation with retention early warning into the day-to-day business of helping busy instructors catch important details that they might have otherwise missed. The aforementioned discussion insights is one example. Another is their advisor analytics dashboard, which helps students’ advisors get increased visibility into how the students are doing in all of their current classes.

Oh yes, and did I mention that there was a Moodlemoot inside BbWorld? There was! There were even slides, presented by Blackboard employees, during Blackboard sessions, about their Moodle-related products. Here’s one:

Moodlerooms

Blackboard has built a large part of its global business by buying up major Moodle hosting and support providers in large swathes of the world. As a result, they contribute a majority of the revenues that fund continuing Moodle development by Moodle HQ. Blackboard has historically downplayed this relationship inside the United States—even though they purchased the US’s largest Moodle support provider—for fear of cannibalizing their Learn business. That policy has apparently changed. Moodle even got several prominent mentions in the BbWorld keynote.

I was able to spend a little time at the Moodlemoot, though not nearly as much time as I would have preferred. It was small and the vibe was a little glum. This isn’t surprising. First, Moodle adoption has been losing steam for a while here (as well as in Europe, though that change is more recent).

Moodle NA

Second, vocal elements of the Moodle community, including some in leadership positions, tend to be anti-vendor in general and anti-Blackboard in particular. Having a major US Moodlemoot fit inside a single (admittedly large) room at BbWorld had to be a hard pill to swallow. And Blackboard, for its part, did not always appear to execute well on supporting the moot. I found the Moodle session listings in the BbWorld app to be confusing. Nevertheless, there certainly seems to have been a major sea change at Blackboard regarding promoting Moodle in North America. Time will tell whether the increased efforts toward a more visible and cooperative relationship will bear fruit.

The last announcement piece I’ll mention isn’t really new to BbWorld so much as it is new since last BbWorld. Blackboard was heavily promoting Ally, the content accessibility tool the company acquired within the last year. Interest appeared to be huge, with overflowing crowds at the sessions.

So what does all this add up to? I’d say a few things:

  • CEO Bill Ballhaus must have succeeded in convincing the company’s private equity owners to allow him to invest in accelerating product development. There’s no other way all these announcements would have been possible. That’s definitely new and a positive leading indicator.
  • The company is thinking about ways to combine its portfolio of products (and services) to meet customer needs. That’s also new, and a differentiator.
  • Another differentiator is the level of sophistication that Blackboard is bringing to learning analytics, both in terms of the feature set and in terms of the conversations they are having with customers.
  • Both the announcements and the customer sentiment indicate that the company is getting better at both listening and executing based on what they’ve heard.
  • None of this changes the fact that Blackboard is still playing defense, but it does suggest that they may be playing better defense and preparing a strategy that will enable them to go on offense.

Management Public and Private Presentations and Discussions

This is the area where some of the most dramatic changes were visible. For starters, the marketing messaging in the keynote was by far the most subtle and sophisticated that I’ve ever seen from Blackboard. Two new taglines were introduced. The first one, “Simply Powerful,” wasn’t really new but rather a revival of the old ANGEL tagline. (I think I still may have that T-shirt, although I doubt I could squeeze into it anymore.) Back in the ANGEL days, the subtext was, “ANGEL is simpler than Blackboard, but it’s also powerful.” In today’s context, the subtext is flipped on its head: “Blackboard is more powerful than Canvas, but it’s also simple.”

The other new tagline was “Your Partners in Change.” There’s a lot going on here. First, this line was projected up on the screen in huge letters as Bill Ballhaus talked about this year being the 20th anniversary of Blackboard. Also on the screen in the background was a picture of NASA’s Pathfinder spacecraft, which landed on Mars the same year that Blackboard was founded. Ballhaus is an aeronautical engineer by training, a fact that he made very plain in his schpiel. Part of the subtext was, “Yes, we’re Blackboard, but not that Blackboard. And I’m the CEO of Blackboard, but not that CEO.” “Partner” was as important as “change,” because it contrasted with the hubris of the last two CEOs. It also provided a cohesive identity for the company as one that provides an integrated portfolio of products and services that can help its customers respond to changing times.

But the star of the keynote was not Bill Ballhaus but Blackboard’s Chief Strategy Officer, Katie Blot. Ballhaus acted as host and referred to himself as “chief client advocate,” but he quickly ceded the spotlight to Blot for the substance of the keynote.

A side note: All of the top three LMS providers in terms of US and Canadian market share have powerful, competent women on their senior leadership teams. Phil mentioned D2L’s Cheryl Ainoa in his recent post. I have mentioned Instructure’s Misty Frost in the past. Like Ainoa and Frost, Katie Blot has a role at her company that is broader than her title suggests. It was good to see her get the spotlight.

And she did not disappoint. Blot is not an ed tech industry careerist, having come to Blackboard from her previous gig working at the US Department of Education. She left behind former CEO Jay Bhatt’s absurdly grandiose claims that Blackboard would change the world single-handedly—”Your Partners in Change”—while maintaining upbeat energy. Her talk was substantive and thematic, punctuated by video interviews with various senior executives about specific product developments. It was not over the top, gross, or cringe-inducing in any way. In fact, it was…dare I say…quite good.

Beyond that, the main themes I noticed were honesty and consistency. I’ve mentioned the former already and have more detail to add, but let me first address the latter. As we’ve mentioned in the past, one method we have for evaluating vendors at their conferences is asking a lot of different people the same questions and seeing if we get the same answers. This is a particularly critical litmus test for Blackboard given the mess it has to clean up regarding the confusion between it’s SaaS options and Ultra. I asked a lot of random Blackboard employees about how Ultra is going. Consistently, the answer I got was something like the following:

Let’s back up and first talk about SaaS….

[Tells a story about good progress with SaaS, adoption, often mentioning the bump they hit with earlier adopters in the process.]

Now within that context, let’s talk about adoption of the Ultra experience.

[Talks about how each customer has their own must-haves before they will even consider Ultra, how Blackboard has a prioritized punch list, and how they have dramatically increased the number of scrum teams working on it to make sure they can meet their commitments to work their way through that punch list in a reasonable time frame.]

This is a pretty dramatic contrast to two years ago, or even a few months ago when Phil was at a Blackboard conference in Europe. So the company is definitely getting on the same page. Out in the field, we are not seeing the same consistency among the sales representatives during RFP presentations. When I brought this up with Bill Ballhaus, he acknowledged it without hesitation and went on to describe steps the company is taking to correct the problem. (There’s that honesty thing again.)

There was also a return of Ray Henderson’s progress report card by both Phill Miller and Blackboard’s Chief Product Officer Tim Tomlinson. I believe it’s no coincidence that both of these men are former ANGEListas. There was something of a minor ANGEL take-under at Blackboard when Henderson was President and Chief Technical Officer there. That change stalled out under Bhatt but has apparently been revived under Ballhaus. Miller and Tomlinson have both been promoted, and the center of gravity for Learn development has moved to Indianapolis, the former home of ANGEL. Henderson’s public approach could be summed up as something like “make commitments, measure your progress, and tell the truth.” I saw many signs of a similar philosophy taking root in Ballhaus’s Blackboard.

The last thing I’ll say—and this is probably the most subjective assessment of this post—is that the employees seemed, for lack of a better word, happy. Not forced, conference-host happy but normal people happy. I-love-my-work-and-like-my-colleagues happy. I have observed lots of folks working at organizations that are under stress or dysfunctional. I have seen them from the inside as well as from the outside of those organizations. There’s a vibe that’s unmistakable. The Blackboard folks I talked to didn’t seem to have that vibe.

Bottom line: Blackboard’s adoption trend line is undeniably down and likely will continue in that direction for at least another 12 months (if you factor out the likely University of Phoenix implementation, which will skew the numbers). But early and subjective signs suggest a positive change in direction inside the company—possibly a rapid one—that may become more visible externally between now and this time next year.

  1. Disclosure: Blackboard is a subscriber to our LMS analysis service.
  2. Disclosure: University of Phoenix is a consulting client of MindWires.

The post BbWorld Report: Blackboard May Be Turning Around appeared first on e-Literate.

by Michael Feldstein at August 13, 2017 07:35 PM

August 11, 2017

Michael Feldstein

The Giant Inflatable Trump Chicken of Ed Tech

Not too long ago, Phil sent me a link to an article in The Atlantic about how an obsession with maximizing clicks through analytics “broke” The New Republic.

By the way, I know where you probably think I’m going with this already, and it’s a reasonable direction to take, but it’s not the one I’m going to take.

Anyway, here’s the passage that gets to the heart of the problem:

One of the emblems of the new era in journalism haunted my life at the New Republic. Every time I sat down to work, I surreptitiously peeked at it—as I did when I woke up in the morning, and a few minutes later when I brushed my teeth, and again later in the day as I stood at the urinal. Sometimes, I would just stare at its gyrations, neglecting the article I was editing or ignoring the person seated across from me.

My master was Chartbeat, a site that provides writers, editors, and their bosses with a real-time accounting of web traffic, showing the flickering readership of each and every article. Chartbeat and its competitors have taken hold at virtually every magazine, newspaper, and blog. With these meters, no piece has sufficient traffic—it can always be improved with a better headline, a better approach to social media, a better subject, a better argument. Like a manager standing over the assembly line with a stopwatch, Chartbeat and its ilk now hover over the newsroom.

This is a dangerous turn. Journalism may never have been as public-spirited an enterprise as editors and writers liked to think it was. Yet the myth mattered. It pushed journalism to challenge power; it made journalists loath to bend to the whims of their audience; it provided a crucial sense of detachment. The new generation of media giants has no patience for the old ethos of detachment. It’s not that these companies don’t have aspirations toward journalistic greatness. BuzzFeedVice, and the Huffington Post invest in excellent reporting and employ first-rate journalists—and they have produced some of the most memorable pieces of investigative journalism in this century. But the pursuit of audience is their central mission. They have allowed the endless feedback loop of the web to shape their editorial sensibility, to determine their editorial investments.

Once a story grabs attention, the media write about the topic with repetitive fury, milking the subject for clicks until the public loses interest. A memorable yet utterly forgettable example: A story about a Minnesota hunter killing a lion named Cecil generated some 3.2 million stories. Virtually every news organization—even The New York Times and The New Yorker—attempted to scrape some traffic from Cecil. This required finding a novel angle, or a just novel enough angle. Vox: “Eating Chicken Is Morally Worse Than Killing Cecil the Lion.” BuzzFeed: “A Psychic Says She Spoke With Cecil the Lion After His Death.” TheAtlantic.com: “From Cecil the Lion to Climate Change: A Perfect Storm of Outrage One-upmanship.”

Neither one of us thought it was something we would blog about at the time. It was just an interesting (and sad) window into the current state of journalism. But in the last 48 hours, I have noticed that my various news aggregators have been filling up with stories that featured some variation of the phrase “giant inflatable Trump chicken” in the headline. The genesis is that a Fox News reporter standing near the White House got photobombed by this:

Giant inflatable chicken

Here’s a sampling of recent headlines:

It goes on and on.

Every way of earning a living has inherent conflicts of interest that can deform behavior. Phil and I certainly struggle with ours every day in our weird combination roles of consultants and analysts. Even individual employees have them. Taking a stand against your manager or employer can be risky. People tend to do the things that enable them to continue to earn a living and avoid doing things that jeopardize their livelihoods. The giant inflatable Trump chicken problem is a consequence of a conflict of interest inherent in selling ads online.3

I’m writing about this for two reasons. First, I want to see what happens. We would never use this strategy to determine what we write so we have no experience with it. As a matter of curiosity, I want to see if our viewing numbers change. (I may have missed the giant inflatable Trump chicken/rooster/cock bubble, so I might try this experiment a second time.)

But also, I’m curious about whether any of the ad-funded publications that cover ed tech do this sort of thing. Whether there is any—let’s call it Google flocking”—in our corner of the world, or whether ed tech is just to niche-y for that. So if you see any signs of something like this, please let us know.

  1. I particularly like the way the SFGate editorial staff decided that Trump Chicken is a proper noun.
  2. There seems to have been an unfortunate English translation mishap here.
  3. See how I did that? Inserting the phrase “giant inflatable Trump chicken” into the body of my text? I just goosed my SEO rating a bit by using redrainseo.agency as always.

The post The Giant Inflatable Trump Chicken of Ed Tech appeared first on e-Literate.

by Michael Feldstein at August 11, 2017 02:35 PM

August 10, 2017

Michael Feldstein

LMS Revival: D2L picking up new customers and showing they can listen

D2L the company and Brightspace the company’s LMS are undergoing something of a revival in the past year. It’s not as if they have dropped in terms of market share – in fact the have a history of strong client retention, losing few customers – but the early 2010’s did not lead to rapid customer growth as they had expected after raising two rounds of a combined $165 million in 2012 and 2014. If you read that second post you’ll find that I stated that their growth claims “defied logic” at the time. Recently, however, D2L is on a roll, racking up significant client wins in higher education, and the company shows real signs of change and its ability to truly listen to and empathize with customers.

As I sat down to write my analysis of the D2L Fusion users conference and what it meant to the Brightspace LMS, I noticed that several of the same themes I described last year applied to this year’s observations – just updated in terms of effect on customers and whether the changes seem to be sticking. To explain my current thoughts it is useful to start with commentary from last year.

Update on Listening and Product Changes

From last year’s post:

As I have described to several executives at D2L, there is an interesting gap between the progress we have seen with the company’s product improvements and the reaction we hear from many of their customers. With the tighter integration with LeaP and the improved usability, particularly in content authoring, I would have expected to hear more customers react to the changes. But when talking directly to many of the institutions using the Brightspace LMS, staff describe D2L as if the company and product line had not changed in several years. What is not clear is whether this gap is due the company missing the mark (and my judgement of improvements not aligning with what colleges and universities want) or whether there is just a lag where it will take time for most customers to believe in and take advantage the new product designs and features.

2016 has been an eventful year for D2L. [Chief Operating Officer] COO Cheryl Ainoa, a longtime veteran of Yahoo! and most recently Intuit, joined the company in April. Although this move was not advertised through press releases or even blog posts, I believe this is a significant change to how the company operates. [snip]

And this gets back to the gap noted in the first paragraph. When I talk to people at schools migrating from D2L or considering whether to migrate, I do not hear much about the recent product changes or the new management described above. For several of these schools, the issue isn’t even whether they like or dislike the recent product and management changes, it’s as if these changes are a non issue in their decision-making. No conclusions yet, just noting the gap.

What I noticed since last year are two updates to the above analysis.

Listening – Besides adding a new COO, D2L has made several other executive-level hires in the product in the past two years, and to me it seems like we are seeing a new way of thinking largely caused by this new group. The interviews with executives were much more consistent than in past years, and there is a new focus on actively listening to customers. It’s not that D2L didn’t have conversations before; it’s more that they didn’t know how to truly listen and empathize.Part of this change according to D2L exec interviews was that in the past it was easier to talk to CIOs, but now they are learning how to talk to faculty and end users. All interviewees seemed to be singing from the same hymnbook. For the most part.

Narrow but Excellent – The product focus is less on big-news features and more on small-news everyday items. In the past D2L has seemed too interested in being able to do some chest-thumping “We’ve got CBE. We’ve got Predictive Analytics. We’ve got Adaptive Learning.” while missing something on what current and even prospective customers need in their daily lives. The new focus is more on taking the drudgery out of end-user activities with a mantra of “narrow but excellent”. They are trying to fall in love with problem solving more than in features, even if these problems can be non-sexy.

One example from the Fusion users conference was making it easier to shuffle questions within a quiz. Sounds trivial, but Canius College staff have a description that captures the essence of the change. Yes, you could have done this before, but it was a chore. Now it’s much easier to the point that more people will want to use it.

Later this month, D2L will introduce a nice feature for Canisius faculty who use their online quiz/exam tool. D2L’s quiz engine has powerful features for randomizing question order in a quiz or exam, and can even deliver a subset of questions at random from larger question banks. This is nice, but until now it was a bit of a chore if you only wanted to randomize delivery of, say, five to ten questions, since you needed to install those questions in the question library, and then import them into a random section within the quiz. Along the way, there were a lot of clicks and the process wasn’t always so intuitive. With the update coming late July, D2L has installed a checkbox feature within the quiz editor: “Shuffle order of questions at the quiz level.” Simply add your questions directly in the quiz, click that box, and the quiz will deliver those questions in a random order to each student.

The Brightspace product demonstrations during the conference keynote got significant spontaneous reactions from crowd (along with hallway discussions) likely reflecting this improved ability to listen
to customers. And the improvement to quiz question shuffling led to one of the biggest reactions.

Here are the major product announcements / new functionality as of this summer:

Another product change worth noting is the new Data Hub. This is a re-architecture of how data can be exported to allow bulk access to data, either manual or through application program interfaces (APIs). The announcement is significant as we have noted in the past that D2L has had challenges getting data reliably and quickly to customers. Data export is not an easy problem to solve due to the complex technical challenges involved in analytics, and D2L had its share of customer challenges several years ago. However, we heard from at least one customer with early access to the Data Hub that their situation is improving. Sounds trivial, but this could be significant. We will have to keep a close watch on this development.

Update on Market Share

In last year’s post I noted:

On the sales front, D2L has experienced somewhat slow but steady growth in new US / Canadian higher education clients as seen below, but they have not had the big-name wins of the caliber of UMUC, Tennessee Board of Regents, University System of Georgia, as they had 2013 and earlier.

They had won Kaplan University as of last year, but since then they’ve also won with EDMC, Saint Leo University, University of Cardiff, University of Ottawa, Bournemouth University, and most recently Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), among others. In other words, over the past 12 months D2L has won several big-name accounts in higher education.1

The net effect has been a dramatic uptick in the percentage of new implementations (schools switching from another LMS to a new one) for D2L. The following chart looks at new implementations in North America (US and Canada) and Europe highlighting the top four academic LMS solutions (Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, D2L) in half-year increments, with a remarkable spike in D2L’s activities in the past 12 months.

This data aligns with our anecdotal conversations where, more often than not, there seems to be a pattern of new implementations going to Canvas or D2L – an emerging two-horse race for new implementations.

Part of the reason for the recent acceleration and for the unknown future is the fact that quite a few of D2L’s wins for Brightspace have been large systems (single decision affecting multiple campuses, e.g. Kaplan University) or large enrollment single institutions (e.g. SNHU). And many of these are for schools with large, centrally-managed online operations. The large systems have benefitted from the Pearson LearningStudio (aka eCollege) end-of-life forcing many for-profit systems to change LMS, with that activity mostly running its course by the end of this calendar year. Big wins, but quite dependent on a small number of deals.

The recent win at SNHU is very important to understand, however. It is not driven by end-of-life (SNHU moving off of Blackboard Learn in a voluntary migration), and this comes from a long-time Blackboard customer. Quite often people equate SNHU with its College for America (CfA), one of the leading competency-based education (CBE) programs in the country. But SNHU is much bigger than CfA, and it is the fastest-growing university in North America overall. According to an article last year in EDUCAUSE Review, SNHU’s online enrollment has grown at 253% per year over the past several years.

It certainly seems probable that this increase in market wins is related to the change in how D2L listens to customers and the resultant change in emphasis from big-news capabilities towards smaller-news but customer-pleasing improvements to everyday functionality. It is important that Brightspace has such a deep feature set, but have the company understand customer everyday needs is more important.

What we do know is that D2L has increased its number of higher education wins over the past 12 months. What we don’t know is whether and how strongly this trend will continue.

Update on Conference Attendance

This was the first on-site Fusion visit we’ve had in a couple of years, leading to the title and commentary in last year’s post “Changes at D2L: A second-hand view from users conference”:

The reason I titled this post as a second-hand view is that D2L is the only major LMS provider (and I include Moodle and Sakai here) that discouraged our participation in their users conference (and we did not attend), citing concerns over direct conversations with attendees without getting their permission first. Other providers are happy to allow and even encourage this type of interaction. In the nature of full disclosure, we think it is important for the reader to understand this difference in access.

Michael and I value the ability to not just hear official presentations and get in-depth demos, but to also go, roam, and talk to customers.

True to their word, D2L management have changed their approach on how analysts can be involved in their conference. This year we were invited to attend (along with others), and more importantly, we were allowed to freely talk to the users and prospective users at the conference. I even had several people from D2L pass me in the hallway and ask if I was getting the access to customers that I needed. I did.

This change aligns with the aforementioned improvements and focus on how D2L as a company listens to customers. Less control and more desire to learn (sorry, couldn’t help myself). A welcome change.

Open Questions

While most of what we’ve seen in the market and at the conference has been an improvement over the past few years, it is important to understand the tall order of the changes being made.

Learning to listen, especially to end users, really represents a cultural change, and these changes are not easy. They take a lot of management time and energy to implement, and they take patience. Will these changes take hold and further permeate the organization? Certainly we’re seeing results over the past 12 months, but companies have plenty of pressures to fall back into old habits.

In terms of market positioning, the competition is not standing still. We’re also seeing improvements coming from Blackboard’s change in executive team, and we’re seeing Instructure to continue their strong improvements to Canvas and their support. New entrants like Schoology and older solutions like Moodle are also improving, albeit more slowly than the big commercial vendors. Further complicating the matter, a lot of D2L’s new business came from a handful of large decisions. Will D2L’s market momentum of new implementations continue, particularly in North America and Europe? I expect we’ll learn a lot when we look at the data at the end of this calendar year.

  1. Disclosure: I advised UMUC during their strategy and evaluation process in 2011-2012. Bournemouth, SNHU, and D2L are subscribers to our LMS market analysis service.

The post LMS Revival: D2L picking up new customers and showing they can listen appeared first on e-Literate.

by Phil Hill at August 10, 2017 02:44 AM

August 09, 2017

Sakai Project

The Sakai UI Inventory Project

(posted on behalf of Jolie Tingen, Learning Technology Analyst, Duke University)

 

In the last few years, Sakai’s user interface and user experience has improved significantly.  The community’s effort to make Sakai a responsive and easy-to-use application is evident in the latest release. Improved navigation, streamlined workflows, and a modern interface are all noticeable improvements in Sakai 11.  Yet, these improvements have not been documented in a style guide for Sakai.

 

To address this gap, Duke University is partnering with the Sakai Community to develop an updated style guide for Sakai.  

by NealC at August 09, 2017 05:10 PM

August 04, 2017

Dr. Chuck

A Recent Tsugi Talk I gave at Oxford University

This is a recording of a talk I gave at Oxford University about Tsugi, Sakai, Canvas, and IMS Content Item back in June:

by Charles Severance at August 04, 2017 03:13 PM

August 02, 2017

Dr. Chuck

Doing a certbot renew when a site is behind CloudFlare

I have lots of my web sites behind CloudFlare – which is nice because I get free auto-updated SSL certs and all the other benefits of CloudFlare.

But in case I want to bypass CloudFlare, I like to keep a solid SSL cert on the original server. So I logged in and ran a:

sudo certbot renew --dry-run

And got this error message:

Attempting to renew cert from /etc/letsencrypt/renewal/www.tsugi.org.conf produced an unexpected error: Failed authorization procedure. www.tsugi.org (tls-sni-01): urn:acme:error:tls :: The server experienced a TLS error during domain verification :: remote error: tls: handshake failure. Skipping.

The solution was to log in to CloudFlare and reconfigure my tsugi.org to temporarily bypass the proxy and then re-run:

sudo certbot renew --dry-run

Then the renewal worked just fine and afterwards – I restored Cloudflare as my proxy.

Of course you might need a few minutes whilst the DNS changes propagate.

by Charles Severance at August 02, 2017 12:03 PM

July 22, 2017

Dr. Chuck

New Coursera Specialization – Web Applications For Everybody

Now that we are well into the rollout of the Python 3.0 version of Python for Everybody. It is a good time to let you know about our next big thing beyond PY4E.

We are preparing a new specialization called “Web Applications for Everybody” (WA4E) that covers HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, JavaScript and JQuery to develop web applications. WA4E assumes that you have a basic understanding of programming at least through Chapter 10 of Python for Everybody (Course #1 and #2 in the Specialization).

We teach both back end and front-end Web Application development. There are extensive auto-graders just like in PY4E and all of the course material is freely reusable under Creative Commons so you can use the material to teach your own classes if you like. There is a preview web site at www.wa4e.com where you can get a sense of what will be contained in the specialization.

We expect that the specialization will be available for registration in a few weeks and the first session should be starting by October 1 (subject to change).

If you have completed Python For Everybody and want to prepare for the new Web Applications for Everybody (WA4E) specialization, I highly recommend that you take Colleen van Lent’s Web Design for Everybody (WD4E).

https://www.coursera.org/specializations/web-design

Colleen and I have been planning a coordinated track of three specializations that can take you from knowing no programming at all through being ready to work as an entry level web developer. It has taken us two years to cover this this multi-specialization curriculum for beginning developers:

Internet History, Technology, and Security (IHTS)
Python for Everybody (PY4E)
Web Design for Everybody (WD4E)
– Web Applications for Everybody (WA4E)

Colleen and I are both personally committed to making technology education available to anyone who wants to put in the time and effort.

I will do a quick review/summary of HTML and CSS at the beginning of the WA4E specialization but I highly recommend taking Colleen’s WD4E specialization since she covers essential front-end skills like UI layout, responsive design and accessibility. If you want to valuable as a professional web developer, you should be able to build solid front-end (Colleen’s WD4E) code and solid back-end (WA4E) code.

I need to thank all of the people who have helped make this new specialization possible. Building the new specialization has been very much a team effort including the staff at the University of Michigan, the current mentors in Python for Everybody, and the staff at Coursera. It is an honor to work with such a talented and dedicated team.

Stay tuned for further announcements and I hope to see you online.

by Charles Severance at July 22, 2017 08:32 PM

July 18, 2017

Steve Swinsburg

An experiment with fitness trackers

I have had a fitness tracker of some descript for many years. In fact I still have a stack of them. I used to think they were actually tracking stuff accurately. I compete with friends and we all have a good time. Lately though, I haven’t really seen the fitness benefits I would have expected from pushing myself to get higher and higher step counts. I am starting to think it is bullshit.

I’ve have the following:

  1. Fitbit Flex
  2. Samsung Gear Wear
  3. Fitbit Charge HR
  4. Xiaomi Mi Band
  5. Fitbit Alta
  6. Moto 360
  7. Phone in pocket setup to send to Google Fit.
  8. Garmin ForeRunner 735XT (current)

Most days I would be getting 12K+ just by doing my daily activities (with a goal of 11K): getting ready for work and children ready for school (2.5K), taking the kids to school (1.2K), walking around work (3K), going for a walk at lunch (2K), picking up the kids and doing stuff around the house of an evening (3.5K) etc.

My routine hasn’t really changed for a while.

However, two weeks ago I bought the Garmin Forerunner 735XT, mainly because I was fed up with the lack of Android Wear watches in Australia as well as Fitbit’s lack of innovation. I love Android Wear and Google Fit and have many friends on Fitbit, but needed something to actually motivate me to exercise more.

The first thing I noticed is that my step count is far lower than any of the above fitness trackers. Like seriously lower. We are talking at least 30% or more lower. As I write this I am sitting at ~8.5K steps for the day and I have done all of the above plus walked to the shops and back (normally netting me at least 1.5K) and have switched to a standing desk at work which is about 3 metres closer to the kitchen that my original desk. So negligible distance change. The other day I even played table tennis at work (you should see my workplace) and it didn’t seem to net me as many steps as I would have expected.

Last night I went for a 30 min walk and snatched another 2K, which is pretty accurate given the distance and my stride length. I think the Fitbit would have given me double that.

This is interesting.

Either the Garmin is under-reporting or the others are over-reporting. I suspect the latter. The Garmin tracker cost me close to $600 so I am a bit more confident of its abilities than the $15 Mi band.

So, tomorrow I am performing an experiment.

As soon as I wake up I will be wearing my Garmin watch, Fitbit Charge HR right next to it, and keeping my phone in my pocket at all times. Both the watch and Fitbit will be setup for lefthand use. The next day, I will add more devices to the mix.

I expect the Fitbit to get me to at least 11K, Google fit to be under that (9.5K) and Garmin to be under that again (8K). I expect the Mi band to be a lot more than the Fitbit.

The fitness tracker secret will be exposed!

by steveswinsburg at July 18, 2017 12:46 PM

July 07, 2017

Adam Marshall

Innovative use of WebLearn – Oxford Online Programme in Sleep Medicine

In 2014 Oxford University approved a brand new postgraduate programme in Sleep Medicine. The two-year online programme leads to a postgraduate diploma (PGDip) or a Master of Science degree (MSc).

The programme is hosted by the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute (SCNi), at the University of Oxford which “brings together world leading expertise in basic and human sleep and circadian research and in the evaluation and management of sleep disorders” (Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, 2016).

Learning technologists in Medical Sciences and IT Services were involved in building a customised portal and customised online course components in WebLearn. In tandem with the course development team, the learning technologists have tried hard to design a programme that attempts to imitate the face-to-face, personalised Oxford learning experience.

This approach is achieved through small student groups, moderated online discussions, live webinars and collaboration with subject specialists to reflect the most recent research findings. It was particularly important to employ aspects of personalisation, e.g. showing students only material that is relevant to them, at the appropriate time (depending on current module, week etc.).

In the structure of the online modules, the WebLearn ‘Lessons tool’ was used to offer the pedagogical advantage of tailoring a learning pathway for the students, with integrated content, relevant activities and assessment opportunities.

The customised interface and personalisation features were realised by taking advantage of WebLearn’s ‘behind-the-scenes’ RESTful web services API and rendered using a popular open source JavaScript framework called Angular 2. A very modest amount of development work was undertaken by the WebLearn team to make this approach possible.

 

by Jill Fresen at July 07, 2017 11:13 AM

June 27, 2017

Apereo Foundation

June 20, 2017

Adam Marshall

System Improvements: WebLearn v11-ox6

WebLearn was upgraded on 20th June 2017 to version 11-ox6. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the disruption.

Here is a list of some of the improvements:

  • Single file upload limit is now 250MB (Resources, Assignments etc.)
  • A link to one’s personal Calendar has been added in the top right Top Right “personal” drop down

  • Anonymous Submission sites
    • Site Info tool cannot now be removed in error
    • It is now not possible to change the Admin Site – all ‘submission’ sites are forced to be managed by Exams and Assessment
  • Favourite sites are now clickable

  • One can how hide / or un-hide one’s self in a site via Home > Preferences > Sites
  • Replay (Recorded Lectures)
    • All instances now have the same ‘play button’ icon
    • Individual recordings can now be inserted into Lessons (using IMS LTI Content Item Message)
  • Citations List improvements
  • Site Members will display the photos which have been set in a user’s Profile by default (as there are currently no available ‘official photos’)
  • Interactive videos (and other content types) from h5p.org can now be used within Lessons (and Resources): “H5P makes it easy to create, share and reuse HTML5 content and applications. H5P empowers everyone to create rich and interactive web experiences more efficiently“. H5p includes
    • Interactive YouTube videos (annotate, ask questions etc.)
    • Image juxtaposition
    • Drag and drop / Drag the words
    • Hotspots
    • Many many more content types

  • Resources:
    • The superfluous recycle bin link has been removed
    • Folders can be expanded on a mobile phone
    • Emoticon images inserted pre-WebLearn 11 will now appear correctly
  • Forums and Topics are correctly copied during ‘Duplicate site’ and ‘Import from site’
  • Researcher Training Tool
    • Search Results page is now fully responsive
    • Improved rendering in Internet Explorer 11
  • Lessons tool: ‘Add section break above’ no longer results two blocks appearing below

 

 

by Adam Marshall at June 20, 2017 02:01 PM

June 16, 2017

Apereo OAE

OAE at Open Apereo 2017

The Open Apereo 2017 conference took place last week in Philadelphia and it provided a great opportunity for the OAE Project team to meet and network for three whole days. The conference days were chock full of interesting presentations and workshops, with the major topic being the next generation digital learning environment (NGDLE). Malcolm Brown's keynote was a particularly interesting take on this topic, although at that point the OAE team was still reeling from having a picture from our Tsugi meeting come up during the welcome speech - that was a surprising start for the conference! We made note about how the words 'app store' kept popping up in presentations and in talks among the attendees again and again - perhaps this is something we can work towards offering within the OAE soon? Watch this space...

The team also met with people from many other Apereo projects and talked about current and future integration work with several project members, including Charles Severance from Tsugi, Opencast's Stephen Marquard and Jesus and Fred from Big Blue Button. There's some exciting work to be done in the next few weeks... While Quetzal was released only a few days before the conference, we are now teeming with new ideas for OAE 14!

After the conference events were over on Wednesday, we gathered together to have a stakeholders meeting where we discussed strategy, priorities and next steps. We hope to be delivering some great news very soon.

During the conference, the OAE team also provided assistance to attendees in using the Open Apereo 2017 group hosted on *Unity that supported the online discussion of presentation topics. A lot of content was created during the conference days so be sure to check it out if you're looking for slides and/or links to recorded videos. The group is public and can be accessed from here.

OAE team members who attended the conference were Miguel and Salla from *Unity and Mathilde, Frédéric and Alain from ESUP-Portail.

June 16, 2017 12:00 PM

June 12, 2017

Apereo Foundation

June 05, 2017

Adam Marshall

Copyright support site in WebLearn – updated June 2017

The Copyright support site in WebLearn has been updated with a new ‘look’ and links to the latest information about copyright requirements, with specific reference to the use of learning materials in a virtual learning environment. The site is publicly available.

The support site in WebLearn is being developed in conjunction with the Bodleian Libraries; it provides links to copyright guidance currently being updated and expanded by Bodleian librarians and staff in the University’s Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM) division, in line with the provisions of the University’s CLA (Copyright Licensing Agency) licence.

The message is:

  • Provision of resources (images, text, articles etc.) for students in WebLearn falls largely under the terms of the CLA licence. For queries contact your college or departmental contact person.
  • Be aware that even if a journal article is your own work, you may have signed away the copyright to a publisher.
  • Always check the terms and conditions of the item, or failing that, request permission from the rights holder.
  • Consider releasing your own material under a Creative Commons licence to make the usage conditions clear to others.

More information:

by Jill Fresen at June 05, 2017 09:43 AM

June 01, 2017

Apereo OAE

Apereo OAE Quetzal is now available!

The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project is delighted to announce a new major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Quetzal or OAE 13.

OAE Quetzal is an important release for the Open Academic Environment software and includes many new features and integration options that are moving OAE towards the next generation academic ecosystem for teaching and research.

Changelog

LTI integration

LTI, or Learning Tools Interoperability, is a specification that allows developers of learning applications to establish a standard way of integrating with different platforms. With Quetzal, Apereo OAE becomes an LTI consumer. In other words, users (currently only those with admin rights) can now add LTI standards compatible tools to their groups for other group members to use.

These could be tools for tests, a course chat, a grade book - or perhaps a virtual chemistry lab! The only limit is what tools are available, and the number of LTI-compatible tools is growing all the time.

Video conferencing with Jitsi

Another important feature introduced to OAE in Quetzal is the ability to have face-to-face meetings using the embedded video conferencing tool, Jitsi. Jitsi is an open source project that allows users to talk to each other either one on one or in groups.

In OAE, it could have a number of uses - maybe a brainstorming session among members of a globally distributed research team, or holding office hours for students on a MOOC. Jitsi can be set up for all the tenancies under an OAE instance, or on a tenancy by tenancy basis.

 

Password recovery

This feature that has been widely requested by users: the ability to reset their password if they have forgotten it. Now a user in such a predicament can enter in their username, and they will receive an email with a one-time link to reset their password. Many thanks to Steven Zhou for his work on this feature!

Dockerisation of the development environment

Many new developers have been intimidated by the setup required to get Open Academic Environment up and running locally. For their benefit, we have now created a development environment using Docker containers that allows newcomers to get up and running much quicker.

We hope that this will attract new contributions and let more people to get involved with OAE.

Try it out

OAE Quetzal can be experienced on the project's QA server at http://oae.oae-qa0.oaeproject.org. It is worth noting that this server is actively used for testing and will be wiped and redeployed every night.

The source code has been tagged with version number 13.0.0 and can be downloaded from the following repositories:

Back-end: https://github.com/oaeproject/Hilary/tree/13.0.0
Front-end: https://github.com/oaeproject/3akai-ux/tree/13.0.0

Documentation on how to install the system can be found at https://github.com/oaeproject/Hilary/blob/13.0.0/README.md.

Instruction on how to upgrade an OAE installation from version 12 to version 13 can be found at https://github.com/oaeproject/Hilary/wiki/OAE-Upgrade-Guide.

The repository containing all deployment scripts can be found at https://github.com/oaeproject/puppet-hilary.

Get in touch

The project website can be found at http://www.oaeproject.org. The project blog will be updated with the latest project news from time to time, and can be found at http://www.oaeproject.org/blog.

The mailing list used for Apereo OAE is oae@apereo.org. You can subscribe to the mailing list at https://groups.google.com/a/apereo.org/d/forum/oae.

Bugs and other issues can be reported in our issue tracker at https://github.com/oaeproject/3akai-ux/issues.

June 01, 2017 05:00 PM

May 26, 2017

Sakai@UD

Interested in Transitioning a Sakai Course Site to Canvas?

There have been several inquiries by faculty wishing to move their current Sakai course to the Canvas Learning Management System. The following guide has been prepared to help those interested in making this transition. At any time, if you have questions or need additional assistance, please contact ATS, 116 Pearson Hall, ats-info@udel.edu, 302-831-0640. Sakai to… Continue reading

by Nancy O'Laughlin at May 26, 2017 05:57 PM

May 23, 2017

Ian Boston

Ultrasonic Antifouling

The board design went off to PCBWay via web browser and 5 days later 5 boards arrived by DHL from China. The whole process was unbelievably smooth. This was the first time I had ordered boards using the output of KiCad so I was impressed with both KiCad and PCBWay. The boards were simple, being 2 layer, but complex being large with some areas needing to carry high amps. So how did I do ?

IMG_20170514_120807

I made 1 mistake on the footprints. The 2 terminal connectors for the 600v ultrasound output didn’t have pads on both sides. This didn’t matter as being through hole the connectors soldered ok. Other than that PCBWay did exactly what I had instructed them to. Even the Arduino Mega footprint fitted perfectly.

How did it perform ?

IMG_20170519_194712.jpg

Once populated the board initially appeared to perform well. Random frequency from 20KHz to 150KHz worked. The drive waveform from the Mostfet drivers into the Mosfet was near perfect with no high frequency ringing on the edges with levels going from 0-12v and back in much less than 1us. However I noticed some problems with the PWM control. There was none. With PWM pulses at 10% the MOSFETS would turn on for 90% of the time and drive a wildly resonant waverform through the coil. Rather like a little hammer hitting a bit pendulum and having it feedback into resonance. On further investigation the scope showed that when the Mosfet tried to switch off the inductor carried on producing a flyback voltage causing the MostFet to continue conducting till the opposing mosfet turned on. Initially I thought this was ringing, but it turned out a simple pair of 1A high frequency Schottky diodes across each winding of the primary coil returned the energy to the the 12V line eliminating the fly back. Now I had ringing, at 10MHz, but control over the power output via a digital pot. I could leave it at that, but this 10MHz would probably transmit and cause problems with other equipment on the boat.

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 08.06.52

I think the difference between the red and blue signals is due to slightly different track lengths on each Mosfet. The shorter track not ringing nearly as much shown in the blue signal. The longer track with more capacitance ringing more and inducing a parasitic ring in the blue track. To eliminate this 2 things were done. Traditional Snubber RC networks had little or no impact. So a 100nF cap as close as possible to the Drain and Source on each Mosfet (RPF50N6) eliminated some of the high frequency, and a 100uF cap on the center tap to store the energy returned to the 12V line by flyback. This reduced the peak current.

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 09.41.32

There is still some ringing, but now the frequency is less and it is less violent. The ripple on the 12V line is now less than 0.2v and filtered out by decoupling caps on the supply pins to the Ardiono Mega. All of these modifications have been accommodated on the underside of the board.

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 07.40.29

The board now produces 60W per transducer between 20 and 150 KHz at 50% PWM drawing 5A from the supply. This is very loud on my desk and far louder than the Ultrasound Antifouling installed in Isador, which seems to work. I will need to implement a control program that balances power consumption against noise levels against effectiveness, but that is all software. There are sensors on board for temperature, current and voltage so it should be possible to have the code adapt to its environment.

Board Layout mistakes

Apart from the circuit errors, I made some mistakes in the MoSFET power connections. Rev2 of the board will have the MosFETS placed as close to the primary of the transformer with identical track lengths. Hopefully this will eliminate the ringing seen on the red trace and made both line the blue trace.

I have 4 spare unpopulated PCBs. If I do a rev2 board, I will use PCBWay again. Their boards were perfect, all the mistakes were mine.

 

 

by Ian at May 23, 2017 07:02 AM

May 18, 2017

Sakai Project

Global Accessibility Awareness Day

(posted on behalf of Matt Clare, Brock University, Chair of Sakai Accessibility Working Group)

 

Thursday, May 18 2017 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

 

Sakai should have a positive impact on all who encounter it, a key part of this goal is how accessible Sakai is.

 

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) and part of GAAD is building awareness of what we all can do to promote access for, and inclusion of, people with different abilities.

 

Sakai has a good history of accessibility but recent versions of Sakai have not been released with a thorough review of the accessibility and to what degree it meets recognized international standard like the WCAG 2.  I’m pleased to share that thanks to community efforts in fundraising over $61,000 and 60 hours of development work Sakai’s accessibility has been reviewed by a recognized accessibility reviewer, SSB Bart, and our plans are to deliver Sakai 12 with an accessibility compliance statement.

 

by NealC at May 18, 2017 11:51 AM

May 10, 2017

Sakai@JU

Sakai Status – 10 May 2017 UPDATE

An earlier reported issue of the Sites button and related Favorites list has been resolved as of 1:25pm EST.

AppleClockExtra_and_Item-0_and_Item-0_and_Item-0_and_AppleBluetoothExtra_and_AppleVPNExtra_and_Item-0_and_AppleVolumeExtra_and_DisplaysExtra_and_AirPortExtra

Remember – there are several ways to get to your course sites:

  • Use of the Sites button (waffle icon) in the top right
  • Use of the Favorites (starred) sites in the Sites Favorites tab
  • Use Overview>Membership to see all course sites
  • Use Overview>My Worksite Setup to navigate to course sites

If you continue to experience issues, be sure to log out and/or restart your device and then contact the HelpDesk if you continue to experience problems.


by Dave E. at May 10, 2017 05:26 PM