Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Blackboard Acquires Moodlerooms, NetSpot

Very interesting development in the world of learning management systems with the announcement that Blackboard has acquired open source solution providers MoodleRooms and NetSpot.  From the press release:
WASHINGTON, March 26, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Blackboard Inc. announced a major investment in open source today with news that it has acquired Moodlerooms and NetSpot, two leading providers of open source online learning solutions to the education industry. Both organizations will continue to operate independently to support their clients.
Moodlerooms and NetSpot are official Moodle Partners, and each will continue their current programs to support clients with no changes to their leadership or their support and service models.
In addition, each team will also become part of Blackboard's new Education Open Source Services group, dedicated to supporting the use and development of open source learning technologies globally.
Leaders from each company recently traveled to Perth, Australia to meet with Martin Dougiamas, founder of Moodle and Managing Director of Moodle Pty Ltd, and present their plans. The meeting included Blackboard CEO Michael Chasen and Chief Technology Officer Ray Henderson, Moodlerooms CEO Lou Pugliese and Chief Architect Tom Murdock, and NetSpot Managing Director Allan Christie.
"The decision of Moodlerooms and NetSpot to work under Blackboard may sound very strange at first to anyone in this industry," said Dougiamas, "but it's my understanding that these three companies have some good plans and synergies. I'm happy to say that Moodlerooms and NetSpot will remain Moodle Partners, and have promised to continue providing Moodle services, participating in the community, and contributing financially to Moodle exactly as they always have."
Both companies provide hosting, support, and consulting services and products to clients using open source systems including the Moodle learning management system (LMS) and the Mahara e-portfolio product. NetSpot is also an authorized reseller and service provider for Blackboard Collaborate(TM). Moodlerooms primarily serves clients in North America, while NetSpot serves a client base in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific region.
In addition the company also published an open letter to the education community on their website where they detailed the reasoning behind their acquisition:
Two reasons. First, this shift is the result of the broader perspective that has come over the past few years as we have updated our vision and mission. Rather than focusing just on the LMS market, we're looking at the entire student lifecycle within the education institutions we serve. That broader vision led us to add complementary platforms like Blackboard Collaborate, Blackboard Mobile and Blackboard Analytics. And it led us to extend our services reach with Blackboard Student Services and the development of our online program management offering. Only when one takes the institution-wide perspective do the largest problems in education come into view. In that position, we've seen first-hand how much the value of the foundational LMS is expanded when it connects with and empowers other systems with core impact for the education experience – mobility, real time collaboration, analytics, campus life and student services, and more. So, we wanted to pursue a strategy that gets us more involved in leveraging the power of these intersections for institutions, whatever LMS choice they make based on their particular needs.
Second, online learning continues to grow all around the world, applied to increasingly diverse learning challenges every year. As usage deepens, needs not only expand, they also become more specialized. The result for education institutions is the need for increased choice among systems with different strengths and deployment models to best suit their particular situation. We believe that Blackboard Learn is one of the most capable and versatile platforms available today. But we also understand that that no single technology platform provides all the answers for online learning in its varied forms. At the same time, we've developed robust consulting, support and hosting expertise that today's mission critical online education programs require. So today's news is about bringing that expertise to more institutions, whether they choose technology platforms we develop or other well accepted alternatives.

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