In the LMS world, there hasn’t been bigger news lately than the acquisition of Blackboard by Providence Equity Partners this past July 1, 2011 [link]. The 1.6 billion dollar acquisition of the worlds largest LMS corporation caused a flurry of conjecture and forecasting, but what does it mean for the Moodle community?
By and large, it doesn’t mean much but might be considered generally positive. It does prove that the LMS market is both vibrant, competitive and attractive to investment. We’ve seen both the number of LMS competitors (Instructure, Schoology, Edmodo) increase with a huge net gain in funding for learning management system development, not to mention the size, funding and number of Moodle partners increase. These are all great things when it comes to the end-user: more players = increased competition = lower (I hope) prices = increased innovation. While Moodle may be near and dear to many, the availability of alternatives will always be important (after all, if everyone was already using Moodle who would be left to convert?).
The education market is experiencing shake-ups at all levels (just do a search for “college cost” to get a sense of the urgency to tackle education reform) and education technology, including the learning management system, is a growing tool in reducing costs and augmenting educational opportunities and outcomes through blended and online education. The market size and cap will continue to increase.
While many have claimed Blackboard is slipping, its recent acquisitions and product launches have actually made it a stronger company and one that can be increasingly platform agnostic (meaning their various products and services are applicable to users of Moodle and Sakai and others, and are not limited to their current subscribers of Blackboard Learn). Providence Equity Partners has a great opportunity to increase Blackboard’s reach and compatibility with other LMSs and non-Blackboard users through its quality products and customer service. Even if you’re not a Blackboard user now, there’s a chance that you maybe in the future (even if it’s just through a tool or service made compatible with Moodle).