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You don’t have to mandate ice cream

I heard today that once upon a time, CUNY tried to mandate that every faculty member be required to use Blackboard and only Blackboard.  That attempt was unsuccessful, as I hope this draft policy will be as well, for the same reason- if the LMS is good (as we have been promised it is), then there is no reason to force its usage- faculty will use it because it is good and it is there.  Most CUNY faculty members already use Blackboard- somewhere around 90%.  And they use it in lots of different ways, which is great- different instructors and students experimenting is how we find new and better ways to teach, whether we are online or in person, or a mix of both.  

color photo of three ice cream cones

Apparently, I’m incapable of responding to this draft policy without beating a metaphor to death, so here’s one more.  If you are planning a party for a large group and looking for the perfect dessert, ice cream is a great choice.  Lots of people like ice cream.  It works really well as a sweet treat and it will make many of your guests very happy.  You don’t have to force people to eat the ice cream- if ice cream is available, lots of people will eat it voluntarily and be appreciative of the tasty treat.  However, there is no way 100% of your guests will eat the ice cream.  Some might be allergic to the ingredients, some may prefer savory to sweet, and some might have brought their own homemade dessert that is tailor-made to their needs and preferences.  If you force-fed ice cream to every single guest at your party, you would be a terrible host- it’s rude and you could make some of your guests really sick!  

Or imagine you were grocery shopping for your family or friends, and, being the considerate shopper you are, you decide to buy some dessert.  It’s hard to go wrong with ice cream!  However, if the only sweet you ever bring home is ice cream, your family may get sick of it.  And you would all be missing out on the wide universe of delicious things in the world- there could be amazing sweets that you would like even more than ice cream, but if you only ever have ice cream, you’ll never know.  

I’m not sure how much CUNY is paying for Brightspace, as their pricing seems to be custom, but one estimate is $30,000/500 users for 12 months.  If we use 225,000 as a rough estimate of students (of course, there are thousands of instructors and administrators who would also be users, but let’s be conservative in our estimating), that would be about $13.5 million per year.  I know CUNY negotiates, and I hope we aren’t paying nearly that much, but even so- that’s a lot of ice cream money!  I hope it ends up being a sweet deal for our students, faculty, and staff- I really do.  I hope many students and faculty will use it to enhance their learning and teaching.  But I also hope that CUNY realizes it should let its faculty members choose whether and how to use the LMS- force-feeding Brightspace is a bad idea. 

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