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.
“Both Moodlerooms and NetSpot have built strong reputations for high quality service and support, which aligns with our deep focus in these areas and our overall commitment to providing LMS services and hosting globally,” said Henderson, CTO and President of Academic Platforms at Blackboard. “This direction allows us to provide the choice of an open source alternative with the benefit of a team of leaders from the open source community to guide our sustained contributions and citizenship in that community.”
Leaders from Moodlerooms, NetSpot and Blackboard signed a Statement of Principles affirming that their work will continue to include regular contributions to the open source community in the form of code contributions, financial support to the Moodle Trust, and support for community gatherings including Moodlemoots.
“This partnership is an historic moment for our company, our clients and the open source community,” said Pugliese, CEO of the Baltimore-based Moodlerooms. “Our company organizes around the principles of affordability, openness and sustainability. Working with Blackboard means that clients using one or more LMS systems can do so more affordably, with greater investment in interoperability and deeper integration between products. Our work will also continue to send a significant portion of revenue directly to Moodle’s core team to help support the improvement of a free and open product.”
“This investment in the open source community is extremely exciting. Together we will help to advance the Moodle project which will lead to stronger options for clients,” said Christie, Managing Director of the Adelaide-based NetSpot. “Our company has delivered on a model that blends the advantages of open source with high quality service and support. We expect that by working as a combined team this investment will be good for NetSpot clients and great for Moodle.”