Moodle and Blackboard… I’m not worried.

There is a lot of talk out there right now about the fact the Blackboard has purchased both Moodlerooms and NetSpot.  There are numerous blog post about it, including Remote-Learners response (Blackboard Buys 2 Leading Supporters of Open-Source Competitor Moodle – The Chronic & Remote-Learner Responds to Blackboard’s Acquisition of Moodlerooms and NetSpot – Remote-Learner) as well as talk on the listservs (ISED) and Twitter.

Am I worried… NO. Am I naive? Maybe, but here’s what I think.

I see the acquisition of these company by Blackboard as a validation of Moodle and what it represents to Blackboard in the marketplace.  To me Blackboard has had to make this move so not to lose any additional ground to the open source community.  By purchasing these company and putting themselves in a position to offer Moodle service, they are covering their bases and making a smart business decision.

As someone who has always hosted their Moodle install locally on our network we have used Remote-Learner in the past, but only at times when we have had no where else to turn (and they’ve been great).  Recently we managed to migrate our own server from a Linux install to two Apple servers on our own… without any partner help.

My point it you can do this on your own.  Moodle is open source and I have serious doubts it will be anything but moving forward – if that changes then I might worry.

Moodle Partners are just that… partners.  They don’t own the product, they provide service and support around the product, but you own it.

Trust me if I can do this, so can you.


About William Stites

Currently the Director of Technology for Montclair Kimberley Academy, "Blogger in Chief" for, husband and father to two crazy kids who make me smile everyday.
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  • Richard Kassissieh

    I a similarly taking a “business as usual” attitude toward this. I have hosted Moodle internally for nine years and had no issues that external hosting would have solved. Hosting internally allows for tighter integration with the school’s other systems, for example LDAP authentication.

    I would like to hear more about how owning Moodlerooms may or may not change the community development landscape for Moodle. I don’t know how many modules Moodlerooms contributed to the Moodle project, but I suspect that most schools don’t use community-contributed modules. Are they involved in core module contribution to Moodle?


    • I think that is the question.  I don’t have a full understanding of what the guidelines are for contributors and partners, but I do know that when it comes to custom configurations to the code around public modules they need to be release back in the wild.  As for code that is development as a custom offering by a company they can only charge for those customizations for pieces that they actually owned such as images they create. Often what they are doing is building hooks into non-open source pieces.

  • The blog post by Audrey Watters and comments on this issue at are interesting. I don’t think the concern is about hosting. From the (very) little I know about this situation, it seems to me that the bigger issue is a reduction in the contributions to the source from Moodlerooms and NetSpot.  I don’t know what percentage of the code changes came from programmers at those companies contributing back to the developer community for Moodle, but if it was significant, that could have an effect.  Blackboard’s press release says it will continue to contribute to the project code base, but, obviously, developing Moodle is not their primary method delivering profits to their stockholders.

    • As Audrey points out it the community that makes a difference. When I made the switch from our Linux server to our Macs I did it on our own because our “partner” wasn’t ready to move their clients to Moodle 2.0. When I need to figure things out I went to the community to learn how to do it.  The forums, blog posts and Twitterverse was where I turned and was able to get it done.  It’s the reason I blogged about it afterwards as well… to give back to the community.  

      A lot of the added modules I added to our install were community developed and not from partners and the people that have helped were all non-partners.