I agree completely Don...that is an excellent question that can be tested. But on the surface, when you look at the specific questions that were asked of students you see things like:
Did Blackboard/Moodle enhance instruction?
Technology-based activities developed problem-solving skills?
Communication tools: Interaction with classmates?
Communication tools: Interaction with instructor?
And on everyone of those questions (and nearly all of the questions), Moodle outperformed Blackboard. The results from the questions, seem to indicate that Moodle not only holds its own with Blackboard (which I believe it does), but that Moodle is better at allowing for the "development of problem-solving skills", "Interaction with classmates", "interaction with instructor", etc.
I just don't think that the differences in the "platforms" (the technology) can account for that. It seems to me the research question is more of a "technical question", and the results seem to go beyond answering that technical question.
Again, I teach on a Blackboard campus, but I have started using Moodle because I like it, I like the interface, I like the fact that I can do everything (or nearly everything) that I can do in Blackboard with an open source system. I will continue to use Moodle and am teaching public schools personnel how to incorporate it in their schools. I would like to see our campus move away from Blackboard and to Moodle, but that is a battle I'm not willing to fight at the moment...and I don't think I could fight that battle on the grounds that it would allow faculty to create a superior learning environment.
I can't say that Moodle allows me to create a "superior" online learning environment. I can teach online courses just as effectively in Blackboard as Moodle, but I can do it in Moodle for free and if I want to customize something, with a little knowledge I can do that.
I think the study is very interesting...I'm just a little suspecious of the results when I see Moodle being judged as superior in things like "developing problem solving skills"....whatever the teacher is doing in Moodle to develop those skills, can be done in Blackboard...in my opinion.