Web conferencing plugins

Blackboard purchase of Elluminate - ?

 
BW and family
Blackboard purchase of Elluminate - ?
 
I was recently asked by a long time moodler to share my thoughts on what the announcement by Blackboard of the purchase of Elluminate might mean to Moodle and our community of users. If you missed this announcement it happened on Wednesday July 7th at 4:00PM EST, after the stock market closed here in the US. Elluminate and Wimba are both being acquired by Blackboard in a $116M deal. Eventually, a new combined product will emerge called Blackboard Collaborate.

Within 90 minutes after the announcement last Wednesday Elluminate called me. We (Remote-Learner) have had a relationship with Elluminate that goes back to 2004 and in 2007 we integrated Elluminate with Moodle. Quite a few organizations use this integration so I can see that naturally (and rightfully) they would have some concern over the future direction of things.

I was assured by Elluminate that they strongly desire to maintain ties with the Moodle community and that while the product will change they don't want to see any changes in terms of their relationship with Moodle. During the call I was told that Elluminate would be a somewhat autonomous division within Bb, and that Bb strongly desires to play nicely with open source. It was mentioned that they want to prove this now more than ever.

I mentioned two things to Elluminate during the call; first, they needed to know that the Moodle community would be watching Bb and Elluminate behavior very closely to see the proof of what was said (the playing nice stuff), and second that we would continue to support the plug-in for Moodle, as we have for years, as long as the plug-in remains free and they in fact play nice with Moodle. So, we shall see...! wide eyes

The instructional technology eco-system is vast! It includes learning management, record keeping, synchronous meeting systems, mobile platforms, content creation tools, off the shelf content, portals, assessment and analytic engines, outcome competency mapping, common interoperability standards and many other technologies. It is clear that in some of these areas Blackboard wishes to dominate and does this mostly by buying up competitors. No one company however will ever own the entire eco-system. People like choices or diversity; new systems will continue to appear out of nowhere to meet customer needs. Winners will win by innovation, not through brute force or intimidation.

Lastly, moodlers might want to consider this. In the learning management area of the eco-system Moodle is the 800 pound gorilla. That fact is indisputable! While Moodle's installed base continues to grow each year in significant numbers, companies like Blackboard are mostly growing through acquisition. While Wall Street may love that, where the money comes from (customers) may not. Perhaps any company wanting to ride on Moodle's coat-tails will need to pay close attention going forward to the prevailing attitudes of the Moodle user community.

Footnote: Related to this issue is the impact that all vendors in the instructional technology eco-system may have on Moodle, a member of the eco-system, in terms of business decisions they make. With Moodle 2.0 just about to go out the door discussions are starting on what Moodle 3.0 might look like. Moodlers will get a sense of things to come by listening to Martin's keynote presentation, The Future of Moodle, at the Austin Texas Moodle Moot on August 2nd - 3rd. I'll take a wild guess that Martin may have a few things to say about business rules within the part of the eco-system where Moodle resides in terms of interoperability with Moodle. The eco-system landscape is changing quickly and not evenly across all learning environments where Moodle is being used.
 
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Picture of Anze Sparovec
Re: Blackboard purchase of Elluminate - ?
 
It is worth noting that there are some really cool alternatives to Wimba and Elluminate emerging. The guys are http://bigbluebutton.org are trying to open things up in this space and the project is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
 
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Picture of John Andrewartha
Re: Blackboard purchase of Elluminate - ?
 
OpenMeeting can be included in the list of alternatives. No matter which we use we still have to duplicate our learning material.
It is I think reasonable to assume that Wimba will a some point make it difficult for competitors to integrate. The nature of education is changing and we may all end up with our resources being outsourced. There certainly seems to be some power play going on.
 
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