Amid the discussion of open technology and open education that pervades the dialogue in education today, I’ve found it curious that one simple concept receives relatively little attention: to create something open, someone must first be willing to share their creation.  And once that generous decision to share has been made, by an individual or an organization, others must be able to find and use that work in order to make it truly shared.

This simple concept, when considered in the context of digital content, highlights several challenges that have served as barriers to progress toward more open sharing of digital content within our communities.  First, most of us are not really wired as individuals, or organizations, to be good at sharing.  This means that to promote sharing, we need tools that make sharing feel easy, familiar, and safe.  These tools should also make it easy for us to discover content shared by others, and just as importantly, easy to use that content once discovered.

Educators today have access to many sources of shared and open content, and the LMS, in its many varieties, is now ubiquitous as a platform for delivery of digital content.  But the process for contributing or adopting shared or open resources and actually making them available for use within the LMS has remained disjointed, difficult, and often frustrating.

It is my great pleasure to announce that today we release Blackboard xpLor, a new platform that is neither an LMS nor a traditional digital content repository. Blackboard xpLor is something new and unique, designed to simply yet powerfully support the creation, discovery, management, and delivery of shared content, all within the familiar context of the LMS you are already using.

Key capabilities of Blackboard xpLor include:

  • Global Content Repository: the xpLor repository can store discrete learning objects and complete content collections as defined by the IMS Common Cartridge specification.
  • Authoring: Similar to tools in the LMS, xpLor enables instructors to create web pages, upload files, and build quizzes, assignments, and discussion boards.
  • Sharing: Instructors can decide how and with whom to share their content. xpLor has a rich set of permissions for global, institutional, or even personal sharing of learning materials.
  • Discovery: It is easy to find content shared by others. Whether you are searching by subject, keyword, or aligned standard, xpLor’s powerful search and filtering capabilities will locate the content you need.
  • Copyright: Protecting rights on digital content is always a challenge, but xpLor makes it easy. We’ve built in the Creative Commons copyright system so that authors can apply a copyright and others will know immediately what rights they have to use the content they find.
  • Delivery: xpLor content is always delivered via the LMS and by the conditions you choose. xpLor content is published in LMS courses as LTI links and grades are passed back to the LMS gradebook via LTI.

I believe that xpLor is truly a transformational technology that will enable new progress in educational collaboration. I encourage you to take a close look at xpLor and consider how it might support or extend your own approach to digital content; and Blackboard is always here to help, so please reach out to us with any questions.

Share well!

Learn more and start sharing with #BbxpLor

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