Well what is going on in the world of LMS and VLEs? Well something quite amazing! We read on Ray Henderson’s blog that Blackboard have to use his words “embraced open source” by acquiring Moodlerooms Inc. in North America, and NetSpot Pty. Ltd., a leader in Moodle services located in Australia.
This is also followed by a plan to embark upon a development of a close relationship with the Sakai community as well, with Blackboard creating its own “open source services group”.
So how will Blackboard go about managing its multi-platform offer now? I guess no body is really quite sure. Will this consolidate the market? Will this drive the trend even further towards Moodle and allow for a managed decline and migration of Blackboard users to Moodle, with Blackboard (hopefully) designed into the process by its expertise residing in its new operating units?
When recently undertaking some due diligence work for advisors to an international institution intent on Blackboard solutions we spoke with a number of LMS administrators and managers here in the UK as to the respective merits of Moodle and Blackboard, and any advice they could offer to the institution. The overwhelming advice was to go down the Moodle route.
There is no doubt that Moodle has been growing significantly in the numbers of educational establishments using it , (see our recent postings), and also Moodle with its Totara iteration is beginning to make serious inroads into the corporate market. Though there appears to be little consideration of this as part of Blackboards strategy amongst the commentary and reporting to date. Maybe it is of no concern to Blackboard again nobody quite knows outside Blackboard.
However what is also worthy of note is the appearance of Webanywhere, (a successful UK based Moodle partner) on the UK Governments Department for Educations framework of supplies for its IMLS (Information Management and Learning Services) requirement for schools and FE. Of the 15 other suppliers appointed to the learning platforms framework (which incidentally did not include Blackboard or any of its new acquisitions) Webanywhere is the only Moodle partner on this framework.
We must consider the implication that Blackboard having analysed the market, no doubt in great detail (and given that this a company that has traditionally grown by acquisition) and has concluded that there is greater value to be had in “embracing” open source solutions than continuing the thankless task of consolidating even more proprietary products.