News in development
Open LMS, part of the UK-based Learning Technologies Group, has announced plans to release all custom modules, enhancements and modifications built on the Moodle LMS platform on which their LMS services are based, as free and open software. The release process is underway, with the goal of “going fully open source” by the end of the year.
As the most widely used, open source learning management system in the world, Moodle has fueled the learning experiences of hundreds of millions of educators. Moodle is also a critical element in the business model of hundreds of thousands of organizations around the world, many of which take advantage of the openness, flexibility and extensibility of the LMS for their specific purposes. Depending on the circumstances, customizations and modifications can be made available for the global community of Moodle users, the most common method being the Moodle Plugin directory, boasting more than 1,700 items provided by companies and developers. Other, more intensive interventions of the Moodle architecture warrant custom releases or flavor, some of the most popular being CLAMP, and Learnbook.
The GPLv3 license under which Moodle is distributed enables use and modification of the software for any purpose; without the need for compensation to their owner in case of commercial or for-profit use that is not a direct sale of the modified product. Like Moodle, GPL-licensed software that has contributed the development of sizeable economies without a direct monetary benefit to their creators and maintainers include the Linux kernel, Automattic’s WordPress and Drupal, along with countless GPL applications, games and libraries.
With the announcement, Open LMS reiterates its mission to become a key contributor to the “Open EdTech” space and Moodle, even if the formal partnerships with the company through the Moodle Partner program have ceased. Open LMS was an early Moodle Partner under the Moodlerooms name, and so were eThink Education and eCreators, all of which are now part of Open LMS. The announcement also aligns with Open LMS president vision of making a world-class elearning platform free and available for learners all over the world.
eCreators Learnbook goes FOSS, rebrands to Open LMS Work
There is little mystery around the fact that Learnbook LMS was a key factor in Open LMS interest for eCreators. What started as a Moodle theme, over the years grew into a powerful and sleek experience that was would remove some of Moodle’s most commons frictions and UX gripes.
Added features Learnbook brought to their customers, which soon will be available for the Open EdTech community at large, include:
- Custom mobile app
- Accessibility enhancements
- Extensive documentation
Given the extensive development built into Learnbook, the compatibility with the current versions of Moodle remains unclear.
LTG’s CEO Speaks
In his first public statement on Moodle and the Partnership program, Satchell reiterates the companies’ missions to ensure continuity and customer care, in the face of a continuous stream of company acquisitions.
Satchell acknowledges the criticism related to the consolidation or eThink and eCreators into the Open LMS umbrella brand, particularly from Moodle HQ and its CEO and Founder, Martin Dougiamas. The end of the partnership represented the nip of Moodle largest source of revenue, with Moodlerooms estimated to represent as high as half of the total Moodle partners program.
A tricky part of the relationship involves Moodle Workplace, which is not GPL licensed. After becoming Premium Moodle Partners, eThink and eCreators were granted the rights to the software, licenses and trademarks, but these rights have been since rescinded. This leaves some 47 customers using Moodle Workplace served by Open LMS, who by August would need to decide whether to switch LMS or service provider. Satchell offers a free transition to vanilla Moodle or Open LMS Work.
After Dougiamas statements, unofficial discussions have taken place at Moodle HQ including, among others the over 80 existing Moodle Partners, regarding the possible relationship between HQ and LTG’s Open LMS. The outcome of these discussions and its status is unknown at this time.
Satchell pledges that by the end of the year, anyone will be able to get their own Open LMS and Open LMS Work system will be able to do so on their own server or instance. Modules and additions that will go along include Personalized Learning Designer.