By Phil Hill
Given all the news and discussion surrounding Blackboard’s strategy change last week, I thought that it would be useful to collect the public statements from Blackboard and their competitors in one place. No analysis, no interviews, just statements. I have a feeling that this might provide a rich source of analysis 6 – 12 months from now.
Blackboard Official Announcements
On March 26th, Blackboard made four simultaneous announcements through press release. They also released two additional press releases based on these four announcements.
- Press Release 3/26 “Blackboard Announces Continued Support for ANGEL” – Blackboard canceled their end-of-life for the ANGEL LMS product, keeping it available indefinitely.
- Press Release 3/26 “Blackboard Appoints Sakai Foundation Board Member Charles Severance to Lead Company’s Sakai Initiatives”– Blackboard hired Charles Severance (Dr. Chuck) to lead this new group, and he laid out much of the rationale in his blog .
- Press Release 3/26 “Blackboard Acquires Moodlerooms, NetSpot” – Blackboard acquired two Moodle hosting and service providers – Moodlerooms in the US and NetSpot in Australia.
- Press Release 3/26 “Blackboard Launches Open Source Services Group” – Blackboard created an Open Source Services Group, which includes helping “institutions successfully manage open source learning management systems (LMS) including Moodle and Sakai”.
- Press Release 3/26 “Statement of Principles” – Key Blackboard executives and hires make a statement regarding their intentions on open source.
- Press Release 3/26 “An Open Letter to the Education Community” – Blackboard sends an open letter summarizing the changes, stating that “Blackboard is becoming a multiple learning platform company that supports both commercially developed software as well as open source solutions.”
Blackboard / Moodlerooms / NetSpot / Moodle / Severance Key Blogs and Interviews
Subsequently, several of the key players in the Blackboard announcements made statements through their own blogs or through media interviews.
- Ray Henderson Blog 3/26 “Evolution Unbound: Blackboard embraces open source” – Ray Henderson, CTO and president of academic platforms for Blackboard, lays out the adoption of open source and multi-platform support in using a biological metaphor of punctuated evolution.
- Tom Murdock Blog 4/2 “News from Moodlerooms. Day 12” – Tom Murdock, founder of Moodlerooms, lays out the timeline of the news over the past 12 days.
- Lou Pugliese Blog 4/26 “Staying True to the Mission” – Lou Pugliese, CEO of Moodlerooms and former CEO of Blackboard, takes a few weeks after the “merger” to lay out his views; he focuses on the outcome of the move and how it affects customers and he sees a strong trend towards vendor-neutral, multiple LMS solutions.
- NetSpot Statement 3/26 “A Special Announcement From NetSpot” – NetSpot gives a short description of the news, including statements from Allan Christie, managing director of NetSpot, and Martin Dougiamas, Moodle founder and lead developer.
- Mark Drechsler Blog 3/27 “Blackboard Education Open Source Services – a personal view” – Mark Drechsler, director of consulting for NetSpot, offers his personal view on the changes, and he sees continued independence for Moodle itself and new opportunities due to the acquisition.
- Dr. Chuck Blog 3/26 “Connecting Blackboard, Sakai, and Open Source” – Dr. Chuck, not sure of his title yet, lays out his perspectives of the move, describing the long road to interoperability.
- Dr. Chuck Blog 3/31 “Reflecting on a Week of Sakai, Blackboard, and Open Source” – After a week of questions, Dr. Chuck follows up with a passionate set of answers along with a challenge for the open source community to answer some additional questions.
- Ian Dolphin Blog 3/29 “Acquisitions and Realignment” – Ian Dolphin, executive director of Sakai foundation, describes Sakai’s relationship with commercial affiliates, takes a clinical view of the Blackboard announcement, and suggests a broader conversation around open initiatives.
Most of Blackboard’s LMS competitors (direct and indirect) have made public statements via blog post.
- Desire2Learn Blog 3/28 “A View on Recent Industry Activity” – Jeremy Auger, CTO and executive vice president, describes how the news is business as usual for Desire2Learn, “we’ve seen this before – a few times, actually.”
- Pearson eCollege (LearningStudio and OpenClass) decline to make public statements.
- Instructure Blog 3/27 “Blackboard Calls It Quits” – Josh Coates, CEO, makes a strong statement that Blackboard is out of the LMS business and provides a very skeptical view of Blackboard’s future support for open source and ANGEL.
- Coursekit Blog 3/27 “A word on Blackboard” – Joseph Cohen, CEO, makes a short statement about the legacy LMS market consolidation and products remaining lousy; real innovation will happen outside LMS industry.
- LoudCloud Systems Blog 4/4 “Statement by CEO Manoj Kutty on Recent Acquisition of MoodleRooms by Blackboard” – While wishing the combination well, Manoj Kutty doubts whether the alliance will help teaching and learning.
- Remote Learner Blog 3/27 “Remote-Learner Responds to Blackboard’s Acquisition of Moodlerooms and NetSpot” – Jason Cole, CEO, reiterated their continued support of Moodle and independence, stated that “they [Blackboard] have a lot to prove”, and questioned whether Blackboard can support such a vast product line.
- rSmart Blog 4/6 “The key is community: Why Blackboard’s changing strategy won’t change the landscape… much” – Chris Coppola, CEO, describes Blackboard’s core business and basis of relationship with customers remains LMS; this move is about market share acquisition. They to open source is community, not just the open license.
- WebStudy Blog 3/29 “Blackboard Empire – Bigger, Meet Better” – Gisele Larose, President, describes a “lack of choice” for customers acquired through Moodlerooms and Netspot and for customers trying to avoid Blackboard. In her opinion, bigger does not equal better in the LMS market, especially when offering too many products.
If I’ve missed anything, let me know.
Update (4/4): Added Mark Drechsler statement and clarified titles
Update (4/5): Added Ian Dolphin statement
Update (4/7): Added Chris Coppola statement
Update (4/23): Added Gisele Larose statement
Update (5/2): Added Lou Pugliese statement