Dr. Chuck Severance recently announced that he was leaving Blackboard. You should read his post about it; the only thing I will say is that Chuck never leaves a job undone. To be honest, it surprised me that he joined the Blackboard team to begin with. For many years, Chuck was the executive director of the then Sakai Foundation, and I highly believe that his employment by Blackboard was a huge Michael Chasen win on Michael’s quest to steer the company in an LMS-agnostic direction.
I remember one of the first times I met Chuck. At the time I worked for another ex-Blackboarder, John Fontaine, who is famous for his tinkering (and may very well be the first person in the world to hold the title VP of Google Glassware). Chuck at the time was spreading the good word about an open standard called Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) and was encouraging all vendors to pursue its use. While it would be another year and a half before Blackboard would natively support LTI (and another three years almost to the day that he would join Blackboard as an employee), over the course of about a day we built the first-known implementation of its type allowing Blackboard to use a Sakai-based learning tool from within a Blackboard course. It really proved the concept in a very tangible way that it was possible to wire together pieces of different LMSs (and different learning tools) to achieve a best of breed solution. This opened up possibilities that were just not previously possible without significant work and effort.
Many individuals have collectively influenced the educational technology space over the years, but Dr. Chuck is someone special. He was (and still is!) on a mission to break down the barriers between Learning Management Systems and learning tools across vendors, across programming languages, and across software delivery methods. He really wants to make it incredibly (and elegantly) simple – to lower the barrier to entry so low – so that anyone can build a learning tool and in doing so contribute in some way to evolving
educational technology education. And in my opinion he has been incredibly successful. The current versions of all major LMSs now natively support LTI. And by cross-referencing with the IMS Conformance Certification status chart we calculate that greater than 60% of all production LMSs from our data set support LTI natively and further that greater than 85% of all LMSs now have the ability to do so by using a LMS plugin. LTI’s adoption since its creation less than four years ago has been nearly universal as has been Dr. Chuck’s dedication to the entire space, no matter where he’s worked or what his roles have been or who he’s worked with.
So kudos to you, Dr. Chuck, on your career move, and for succeeding with your efforts while at Blackboard to ensure that Sakai 10 became the first LTI 2.0 certified LMS. May this newest version of the LTI standard see similar success and adoption in the years to come.
This post written by George Kroner