Moodlepreneur Monday: A Brick Set, Or Just A Brick?

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Moodlepreneur Monday A Brick Set, Or Just A Brick
“bricks” by Jeff Attaway is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Many EdTech providers seem to fall into the trap of making a “brick” look like a “brick set” or vice versa, in order to cater to a customer segment for short term gain, even when it is clear the product and the customer are not the right long-term fit. The battle hymn of being open to every opportunity runs the risk of seeing opportunities where there are none.

As Blackboard’s John Scott and Chris Aldin argue, an EdTech product that takes the ecosystem into consideration stands a better chance of finding the right fit, and to do so for markets that appreciate it. The product can also be flexible enough to morph or expand over time, but doing so should be the natural response of a cultural shift, rather than a marketing gimmick. Interoperability and accessibility are examples of product categories that have joined our mainstream culture and are more or less expected across the whole EdTech landscape.

Pros of LMS as a brick

No-nonsense functionality. Focus on your unique (as some like to highlight it, “unfair”) advantage, and if you are successful, the rest of the features will come, mostly by user request. It is not difficult to find a patient set of early adopters on which to test your plans for a more encompassing feature set (as long as you do have a plan).

Cons of LMS as a brick

Selling yourself short. People might not appreciate a product that excels in one place and lacks in every other. A common case of open source technology marginalizes large customer bases because they fail to demonstrate how they can be professional solutions.

Pros of LMS as a brick set

Confidence, if you can sell it. Heavy is the head that promises a fully-featured experience. But frankly, unless you are Blackboard or Moodle, you need to show real might to convince users that you can do everything. Even Canvas LMS knows not to go down the “fits-all” road.

Cons of LMS as a brick set

Overpromising (and underperforming). Most customers are not looking for perfection from the start, no matter how hard they wish it was there. So attempting perfection is a needless way to set yourself up for failure. Another set of issues comes in when you convince a large client of this. Assuming they can deliver, EdTech SMEs should still be aware of the “cashflow trap,” where a juicy, high-maintenance contract can bleed you dry before the first paycheck.

Read “An Integrated and Responsive Approach to Personalized Learning” at blog.blackboard.com. ■


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