Reflecting on Blackboard’s Impact on Moodle™ and the Open-Source Community

You likely heard that Blackboard has agreed to sell its Open LMS Moodle™ business to Learning Technologies Group (LTG). Depending on your role in education, you may be asking yourself a lot of questions. Open LMS clients may be asking what this means for their LMS and Blackboard products, and industry analysts may be assessing the impact to future revenue growth and profit of both companies. Blackboard and LTG will answer those questions in the coming days and weeks.

I’ve spent more time reflecting on Blackboard’s impact on the Moodle™ community over the past 8 years, and the impact LTG can have going forward. I have a unique vantagepoint, having had a front row seat to the former, and now leading the business under LTG.

The Start of Something Truly Remarkable in Education

Since Moodle™ launched in 2002, it’s growth and impact on eLearning at a global scale has been nothing short of phenomenal. It has been inspiring for me to watch the impact, get to know the community and see it grow and evolve. Today, by its own measures, Moodle™ has over 100,000 registered Moodle™ sites, and there are probably thousands more that have never been registered. Moodle™ has allowed low-cost experimentation and growth to happen in eLearning that simply wasn’t possible before it existed, for universities, technical colleges, associations, non-profits, and even corporate training organizations. Moodle™ is the most important LMS worldwide and has been for more than the last decade.

Blackboard’s Impact on the Moodle™ Community

Enter Blackboard in 2012. What Blackboard did was truly unique. Beyond the massive, and likely the largest, financial contribution to the Moodle™ cause ever, it did so much more. Even today, Moodle™ is often not seen as a product, but as a project. The vast majority of Moodle™ is still self-hosted and is not delivered in the cloud, and the pockets of deep expertise and talent in Moodle™ are isolated regionally around the world.

Blackboard changed that. Through a series of acquisitions, investments, and organic growth, it created the first truly global Moodle™ provider with scale, organizing around a Software as a Service (SaaS) implementation of the Moodle™ platform, while also building in the scale, security, and privacy processes that you would expect from a company like Blackboard. This brought together some of the foremost experts in Moodle™ teaching, training, and development, and then paired them with a parent company that was also full of experts in both technology and education. Of course, this was not all without its supporters and critics, but even the skeptics would have to admit that Blackboard was successful in what it set out to do.

Looking Ahead to the Future

But every good company looks for ways to continue to evolve and change. And so, much like a parent dropping their child off at college, Blackboard is taking the business that it has nurtured and setting it up to continue to flourish, giving it what it needs to be independent. That starts with a solid, sustainable business foundation, an amazing and talented team, and a remarkable set of clients.

So, what does LTG buying Open LMS mean to its clients and to the Moodle™ community?

A deep understanding of Moodle™LTG already has a number of businesses that interact with Moodle™ every day. Whether it is LEO Learning, which builds content for Moodle™ clients, or Rustici software, the makers of SCORM Cloud, which is integrated with Moodle™ for some of its clients, Open LMS is just adding more Moodle™ experts to LTG’s already deep roster. At its core, this is just a continuation of bringing together some of the disparate global Moodle™ talent under the same umbrella to expand Moodle™’s reach and growth.

A commitment of continued investment: LTG has committed to investing in the Open LMS platform, the people that support it, and the clients that we serve, and to truly grow this business globally.

Ongoing support for the Privacy of User Data: Blackboard has been a leader in supporting the privacy of user data, and this will continue for Open LMS within LTG.

Supporting the Moodle™ community: LTG is making a big bet on the future of Moodle™ and has every reason to invest in the ongoing sustainability of the platform and of the Moodle™ community. This commitment is not only good for business, but it is the right thing to do.

Simply put, I’m delighted about where we are and what we plan to do. Now it’s time to get started!

Phill Miller
About the author

Phill Miller

Phill is a long time EdTechNerd, and open source junkie. He’s the proud father of an 8 year old son and 6 year old triplets. He enjoys eating cold, half eaten chicken fingers after his kids have fallen asleep and reading British spy novels. Oh, and he’s also the Managing Director of Open LMS. He's been in EdTech for about 20 years, with roles at ANGEL Learning, Moodlerooms, Blackboard, and Oxygen Education. Phill is based in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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