During interviews with Betabeat Coursekit’s Joseph Cohen has always played down Blackboard, which currently owns 80 percent of the market for educational software. “Our business model is not to compete with Blackboard by selling software,” Mr. Cohen told Betabeat. “It’s to create large audiences of students and teachers that we can then leverage for all sorts of things.”
They may not see themselves as competitors, but that doesn’t mean Coursekit can’t leverage all the ill will towards Blackboard out there. Today the company launched an ad campaign, #eraseblackboard, featuring testimonals from students who had been screwed by Blackboard. “Brian’s Chem final didn’t go as planned, so he emailed the professor to fight the grade,” reads one. “Or so he thought. Instead he sent the message to the entire class. Now everyone thinks he’s a brown-nose, and he still has a C.”
We’re a little suspicious of these students. The fourth one is about a student named “Vinny” who looks strikingly like Jesse Lamb of Dispatch, a classmate of Coursekit at TechStars NY.
Update: But there is a source for the statistic that “93 percent of people hate Blackboard”, making it the #2 most disliked software in America behind Microsoft (Damn you Clippy!).
But the best part of the campaign is a running feed of Twitter complaints that sit at the bottom where users express their frustration with Blackboard. There is nothing manufacture or tongue in cheek about the litany of complaints that flow by in 140 characters or less. And by creating a clever hashtag, Coursekit is channelling that anger into exposure for their product.
“@coursekit 5 out of my 6 professors have already made comments about hating Blackboard in the first 3 days of class. #EraseBlackboard” tweeted Ryan Delk from the University of Florida. That’s the kind of marketing you can’t buy, and the perfect entry point for Coursekit, which hopes to dodge the loathsome IT purchase cycle and sell straight to teachers and students.