Blackboard’s Moodle Strategy

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Blackboard LogoPhil Hill recently posted on Michael Feldstein’s e-Literate site about his trip to Colombia to take a tour of Blackboard’s recent acquisition there: Nivel Siete.  A good deal of the article is rightly dedicated to Nivel Siete and how that company is being used as a focal point and center of excellence for the greater Latin American market. It is worth a read for something of a deep dive into how Blackboard is making moves across the Latin American market and what that will mean for Bb’s Learn, Ultra and any integration possibilities (or grand strategy) with Moodle.

That said, what we found most compelling about the article was Phil’s statement that, due to Blackboard’s current portfolio of Moodle Partners (Remote-Learner UK, Moodlerooms, Netspot, Nivel Seite) it is responsible for 50% of Moodle HQ funding.

After the 2012 acquisition of Moodlerooms and Netspot, Blackboard had kept its promises of supporting the open source community – and in fact, Blackboard pays much more than 50% of the total revenue going to Moodle HQ

While the latest acquisitions clearly emphasize Blackboard’s deepening and continued support of open source, it also leaves questions about the ultimate future of Moodle at time when, to quote Phil “the Moodle community at large appears to be at an inflection point.”

Great post and article definitely worth a read over at e-Literate.

What’s your perspective – how is the continued growth of Blackboard into the Moodleverse changing how the Moodle community will grow and evolve into the future? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

  • This just means that there will be new Moodle partners picking up the clients that don’t want to filter their money through Blackboard on its way back to Moodle HQ.

  • @Dan: (This isn’t sarcasm) Do you actually think that clients will know or care if Blackboard has their hand in the support or development of their Moodle instance?

    I don’t think that even with proper due diligence that that would be even remotely an issue or consideration. In fact I don’t think that most clients care at all that any money is going back to HQ.

  • Hi fellas.
    My name is Shalimar and I work for Moonami – we’re a US Moodle Partner that isn’t owned by Blackboard. I can tell you that avoiding Blackboard AND contributing back to HQ are quite important for a number of people/teams.

    It’s true that other factors are usually more important, but these two points are definitely registering for people. Stability is key, and with all the change-up in the air, I think this conversation is being forced across the nation.

    As someone whose job it is to speak to Moodle admins and IT teams all over the country, I’m here to tell you – it matters.

  • Lewis Carr

    Speaking as someone who worked for Moodlerooms and now working as an independent, I can offer my thoughts.

    Moodle needs innovation.

    In mature markets such as the UK where I live, it isn’t a question of “should we use Moodle?”..the question is “where can we go next with our current Moodle”. If more money is fed to Moodle HQ and this leads to more innovation then Moodle keeps getting better. If more code gets contributed to core then we get a better Moodle.

    The threat from rival LMS platforms is more concerning than who pays the most.
    We know who the rival LMS platforms are and they are knocking on the door. This is the inflection point. New markets are easier to win than markets who have used Moodle for 10 years plus. A healthy commercial Moodle model in all forms means more developers..Martin D WANTS to hire more developers, doc writers, designers etc.. Other platforms are catching up and Moodle will leap frog this year I’m sure.

    -Lewis

  • Julian Ridden

    As a Moodler who moved to Canvas I also wnat to share some thoughts.

    I left Moodle largely due to its lack of recent innovation. Don’t get me wrong, it is always adding new features, but I would not say it was meeting industry expectations and demand.

    I agree with Lewis that Moodle is at an inflection point. It is really starting to show it’s age and is in desperate need of at least a UI/UX overhaul if not something deeper. There is no doubting it still has a string community and fan base, but this only gets you so far. What it really needs is funding. With BB now being a core source of 50% of this, it is indeed brown trousers time inside Moodle HQ.

    Shalimar also speaks true. I know many organisations from my time in Moodle horrified at the thought that a company they spent a lot of money and time moving away from is now yet again owning their service contracts. Yes, this may not be a big deal for all, but in the Higher Ed sector this would have a stronger influence than many would imagine.

    All eyes are now on Martin D and Moodle HQ to see where they go next from both a product and company strategy. I do wish them well and hope that Moodle continues to thrive, but it is certainly more challenging now than ever for them.