More On Learning Management Systems (LMS) Patents

In case you missed the big story from July, “Blackboard, a US-based LMS company that recently merged with Canadian-based WebCT to become the largest company in the market, took the academic community by surprise late last month when it announced that it had been granted a broad patent in the United States covering 44 claims related to learning management systems.”

Michael Geist has recently written an article covering the controversy, and he points to a site I had not seen before. “The No Education Patents wiki ( is of particular interest since it provides a plain-language explanation of all 44 claims contained in the Blackboard patent and it invites the community to submit specific examples of prior art. The wiki is revealing as it illustrates how beneath the complexity of the language used in patents, many of the claims relate to simple functionality such as online chat rooms and exam submissions.”

Additionally, what I really like about the wiki is that it features a section covering “The History of Virtual Learning Environments“. This is a good resource for a refresher, or of course, one to contribute to if you are able to see any gaps in the history.

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