Let’s dissect the new Blackboard “NG” product demo video

Anyone who is a client of Blackboard Academic Suite or Enterprise License who didn’t get the marketing email might want to have a look at the “sneak peek” video that Blackboard posted about their “project NG” or Next Generation LMS:

Okay, now that we’ve sucked down a heaping helping of hype, let’s actually dissect what we’ve seen. I’ve taken the liberty of chopping some freeze frames out of the video for us to decode. Keep in mind that I’m looking at these snaps from the perspective of a Blackboard WebCT Vista user, so if anyone else has a perspective on this as an Academic Suite user, I’d love to hear from you in the comments or by email.
Begin after the jump:

shot of a course homepage, I think.
In this one, you can clearly see that (a) there’s nothing here from Vista at all and (b) you can drag and drop everything into random locations for maximum student-centricity.

shot of course sidebar
Okay, the next legible segment we have two screenshots. On the left, we see some tools… Let’s see, again, these are the menus from Academic Suite. And on the right screen, why, it’s the same damn thing we had already seen five seconds before.

course wizard
Moving on, we get a shot of the new course wizard, which says “Tools such as the Discussion Board or Chat can be linked directly to …” and “You can reorganize things on any page simply by using drag and drop…” and “The course hompage can include information in any of the …. Announcements, What’s New and more. You can allow students to…”

learning connector
Okay, in the next frame we see how the Learning Connector adds a new row of tabs above everything with their main products, such as the Content system, Community system, Scholar, Commerce Suite. Then there’s another row of tabs below that (tab-happy) with a Sakai Pilot tab. I don’t know if that’s actually sakai they’re showing running inside some kind of web frame below that Sakai tab, can anyone answer that?

course content
Okay, let’s have another look at course content. You can’t see it very well, but at the top of this snap is a semi-transparent box that has the “My Places” link (probably goes back to the learning connector-based home screen) and probably a logout look. Then there’s the big row of tabs under the school branding (looks like better branding!). Then we have the actual course itself within this frame, with the blackboard academic suite tools (in Vista colors) on the left and a Vista-like content area of icons on the right.

more course content
Another similar view reveals the fact that a course content page can include not just icons that link to files or activities, but also directly embedded content such as a youtube video:

Any other thoughts? Am I reading too much into this glossy, superficial bit of marketing fluff?

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