According to Mike Caulfield, Blackboard used the following image to denote their technical difficulties during live streaming their Blackboard World conference.
There is a certain schadenfreude in the technical difficulties, similar to Bill Gates’ crash of Windows 98 live on CNN. But for me the context of the image is rather confusing. What is Blackboard trying to tell me by showing a picture of a father glued to his phone while his son looks out the bus window? Is dad happy to be having a day out with the little guy and mom just sent a text? Is dad laughing at LOLcatz, the arm around the son less an embrace and more a tactile reminder that son is accounted for? Is Blackboard saying this check-in at work will be the last solace dad enjoys before countless trips on the Small World ride at Disney? What is the inconvenience in this picture? The phone is eliciting a smile; is the child the inconvenience? Is Blackboard being somewhat meta and speaking from the perspective of the child…and if so, why the blissful look on his face?
The more time I spend looking at this image, the more troubling it becomes. I fail to see how this particular image says anything positive about anything at all. And in light of a Wired piece on the Reeducation of Blackboard that misses the tenor of the EdTech world (example: a non-ironic subhead Students are Consumers Too), Blackboard’s tone-deafness seems systemic. Jay Bhatt is about to roll out a *new and improved* Blackboard. It promises advancement, but Blackboard has a history of rolling out extensions, applications and interfaces that gloss over the inherent problems of providing space for education to grow organically in the digital. The history of Blackboard leads me to believe this new roll-out will be another magenta filter on a pretty picture that gets more troublesome the more it is analyzed.