Blackboard has seen campuses slowly migrate away from proprietary LMS software that was dominant in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and toward LMS platforms that use open source code to customize course websites. About half of nonprofit universities now use Blackboard, down from 71 percent in 2006, according to the Campus Computing Project.

Blackboard and Moodlerooms officials said in the hours after the acquisition was made public that the deal should be greeted as a boon for the open-source education movement, which now has the built-in customer base and financial support of a successful corporation.

Lou Pugliese, CEO of Moodlerooms, and Brett Frazier, senior vice president of Blackboard Learn, emphasized that Moodlerooms customers would not see prices rise, and they soon would have more support from the Open Support Services Group.

Burgamy remained skeptical.

“Blackboard is a corporation. They’re beholden to their shareholders to make money and turn a profit,” he said. “They wouldn’t do something out of some sense of altruism. In our society, it is natural for them to try to buy up all their competition.”

Blackboard’s claim that the purchase of Moodlerooms was good news for open-source champions, Finn said, is considered plausible in some corners of higher education.

“That’s my most hopeful outcome, that the open-source community can flourish with the financial backing of a company like Blackboard,” she said. “I think all boats can rise if they stick to what they say.”


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