Proprietary e-learning vendor Blackboard has acquired two partners of the open source Moodle platform in a bid to expand the reach of its consulting, support and hosting business.
The US vendor acquired Adelaide-based NetSpot and Baltimore-based Moodlerooms for an undisclosed sum, to form its new Education Open Source Services group.
In an open letter to the education community today, Blackboard chief executive officer Michael Chasen said the group was “about bringing that [consulting, support and hosting] expertise to more institutions”.
Noting that “no single technology platform provides all the answers for online learning in its varied forms”, Chasen said the group would introduce a “full range of services” for open source e-learning platforms Moodle and Sakai.
Blackboard promised to make no changes to the leadership, support and service models of its new subsidiaries.
Both would continue operating independently to support existing clients, with NetSpot’s 50 staff targeting Australia, New Zealand and Asia and Moodlerooms targeting North America.
In Australia, Blackboard is used by the University of New South Wales, University of Newcastle and Curtin University. Flinders University and the Australian National University use Moodle.
NetSpot chief executive officer Allan Christie said its direction and vision had not changed, describing its new relationship with Moodlerooms as a “big advantage” for NetSpot and the Moodle open source project.
Blackboard said it, NetSpot and Moodlerooms had met with Moodle founder Martin Dougiamas prior to announcing the acquisition.
The three companies have signed a Statement of Principles, promising open source code contributions, financial support to the Moodle Trust and support for community gatherings including Moodlemoots.
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