WizIQ opens up to third parties (aka, Why I've been out of touch lately)

Integrations with Blackboard and open source learning software, along with a new developer portal, bring WizIQ further into the mainstream.

As regular visitors to this blog will notice, I haven't exactly been prolific lately. The day job, I'm afraid, has been sucking up more time than Angry Birds. However, with full disclosure that this post is about my employer, I wanted to share some particularly interesting Ed Tech news from the WizIQ front. You guys at least deserve to know why I've been so quiet lately, but I'd write about this even if WizIQ didn't pay the bills. I'll be as newsy as possible - no marketing schtick, I promise.

As many of you know, WizIQ is an e-learning platform focused on the creation of classes and courses in a flash-based virtual classroom. I reviewed it long before I started working with the company, comparing it to something of an every-man's Adobe Connect. Today, WizIQ launched both a Blackboard Building Block and a developer portal, extending the accessibility of the platform to enterprises using Blackboard and to third parties who want to use WizIQ APIs to build web applications around the virtual classroom.

But wait! Blackboard already has Elluminate (and Wimba, and WebCT, all three of which are rolling into Blackboard Collaborate). Why, you ask, would they let WizIQ create a building block (essentially an application that hooks into Blackboard APIs) that competes with Elluminate and Collaborate? OK, maybe you didn't ask, but I've been so busy answering that question that I haven't had any time to write other blogs lately, so I'm going to share the answer with you: the WizIQ building block is a very straightforward, simple virtual classroom plugin. While it represents a viable alternative to Blackboard's own tools, the market is large enough that there is more than enough room for a bit of competition.

This part is purely speculative, but I think it makes sense, too. Let's say you're Ford. Your cars come with great stereos. They can even be upgraded to awesome sound systems with built in MP3 storage. You provide a complete audio solution. However, there are people who would buy a Chevrolet instead of a Ford if the Ford didn't have an audio port that let them play their iPods in the car. In the same way, Blackboard's core product is their LMS. Wide integrations and openness keep users on the platform.

This means that WizIQ now has turnkey integrations for their organizational users with Moodle and Blackboard. Since they also launched a developer portal today (developer.wiziq.com), the company is leveraging its new RESTful APIs (the older SOAP APIs are still supported) and providing code samples and case studies to help drive more such turnkey integrations. The site will eventually become a community-driven portal, forum, and hosting site for contributed code and documentation.

WizIQ will be contributing heavily to this site in the short term as it develops modules and plugins for Instructure Canvas (Instructure and WizIQ are collaborating on the development and this will be available by this fall). The company will also internally be developing hooks into other open source LMS and SIS products, but I can say with certainty that any and all community contributions would be much appreciated.

So this is why you haven't heard from me. That and the fact that I was finally able to bring 2 part-time assistants on this week who are suddenly making my life infinitely easier. I'll be back next week with everything from unusual gifts for grads to more thoughts on the cloud in education. Have a great weekend!


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