Blackboard buys Moodle partners: open source?


I was planning to write about the fact that this is my 100th post. I was surfing the web to prepare for that post, when I saw a BlackBoard press release and immediately switched subject:

Blackboard acquires Moodlerooms, Netspot

This really is news. Blackboard is one of the largest LMS vendors in the world and is considered state enemy #1 in the Moodle community. Moodlerooms and Netspot are official Moodle partners and will together generate well over 50% of the total partner revenue of Moodle (which is by far their largest source of revenue). This is a takeover with serious impact! Blackboard has taken an interest in open source since a few years, but they where focusing on Sakai (another open source LMS). I visited the Blackboard news page:

Blackboard newspage

screenshot of Blackboards news page

Interesting combination of information on this page. Two news items about the takeover and the following creation of the ‘open source service group’. The third one is Sakai. Sakai is an open source initiative (mainly of US-based universities) and is steered by the Sakai foundation. Blackboard apparently hired Charles Severance, who is one of the Sakai founders and Sakai foundation board members. This gives them serious influence on Sakai (second most important open source LMS after Moodle).

The fourth post is about Angel. Angel was an independent LMS and it was growing rapidly.You could see them as the opposite of giants like Blackboard in many ways, and they where really making an impact in the market, challenging Blackboard. So Blackboard bought them a few years ago. The press release on the Blackboard site of today about Angel announces that support for Angel will not be discontinued yet……

When Blackboard bought Angel the hope was that Angel could influence Blackboard and make them more like Angel was. That it was a sign of change of Blackboard instead of them getting rid of a upcoming competitor in an easy way. I have to say that I wasn’t able to spot any impact from Angel on Blackboard.

This makes you wonder about Blackboards intentions with open source. Are they really embracing it and it this the beginning of something wonderful or will they smother it like they did with Angel.

Comments

  1. Hi Kasper,

    the best thing that came out of Angel was Ray Henderson. He has really made a change within Blackboard. Here some bullets I see:
    - More focus on stability and solving bugs
    - more focus on security
    - Blackboard is strong supporter of open standards and is forerunner in implementing IMS-standards
    - better listening to clients

    mvg,
    Willem

  2. Would the date of this post have anything to do with this hitherto unprecedented move?

  3. As much as I want to be optimistic about this move, I can’t find any reason to be – it really is a sneaky way of trying to extend territory in as far as the LMS market is concerned but I guess that’s “business” :) Will this spell the end of Moodle’s open source days? thus moving onto the proprietary shelf? I certainly hope not.

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