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Colleagues- I'd like to hear your thoughts on this one! 

As you probably know, Moodlerooms hosts Moodle (and other software) for many colleges, universities, and other types of clients. They've been a good partner to Marylhurst. In recent months, since a leadership change, they have started building proprietary components including proprietary Moodle modules and add-ons.  At Marylhurst we've been careful how we used these proprietary features, keeping an eye on exit. Today I am grateful for that.

Today Moodlerooms announced their acquisition by Blackboard as part of that company's open source strategy. Bb also acquired Netspot, another Moodle partner. There's a suitably worded Open Letter and Statement of Principles on the web site, of course. http://www.blackboard.com/About-Bb/News-Center/Press-Releases.aspx?releaseid=1676738 

Obviously there are many questions, including the question of the financial influence of Moodle partners over the direction of Moodle.org now that Blackboard owns two of them.  But there's also a somewhat arcane, but important, question I've wanted to ask this group for a while:
should Moodle licensing be changed from GPL2 to GPL3? 

For anyone who doesn't happen to have a special interest in the GPL, it's an interesting lesson. In my own words (ie my mistake, if you want to point it out!)  the GPL was meant to keep open source software open. GPL2 was written in the days when getting software from someone generally meant you got media with compiled code on it.  GPL2 says that if you modify code licensed under GPL2 and redistribute it in any form, you have to make the source available for free and under the same license.  All well and good. But then along comes the cloud (/SaaS/whathaveyou), and now I can create a business based on modified GPL2 code and selling the service. In this case I never distribute code so I need to give away my modifications.  I am free to build a competitive business model that is substantially based on work done for open source. All perfectly legal.

So: Blackboard owns a Moodle hosting company (two, actually). Imagine a scenario in which they offer an "improved" Moodle, which looks like the open source version and in fact is based on all the open source code, but it also has special Blackboard "enhancements". All well and good when you sign on, but it might be a problem when you try to exit. Unless the code for those "enhancements" is publicly released, you may have as hard a time with that exit as you do with exiting any proprietary LMS. GPL2 does not require them to release the code, even if it is tightly integrated into a free version of Moodle.

GPL3 exists precisely to solve this problem. It says you have to give away the source even if you never ship code, but only sell a service based on the code. It's the gap between GPL2 and GPL3 that worries me here, and makes me question the impact of Blackboard's strategic direction.  Should Bb be free to offer "enhanced" Moodle that uses all of Moodle's IP but gives back only in ways that they see fit? I think that's a fair question. I've wondered for some time why Moodle is under GPL2 rather than 3. Perhaps you have some insights? I'd love to hear them. On any of this.

Best,

Ethan

ps: I like the Moodlerooms people a lot, and they have been good partners. I am certain that they are committed to remaining good partners. Heck, I find the thinking of their CEO (Lou Pugliese) interesting enough that I got him to write for New Horizons :-)    But I wonder about where this whole thing is heading, and what it means for the "guarantees" we think we have with open source.

——
Ethan Benatan, Ph.D.
Vice President for IT & 
Chief Information Officer
503.699.6325   

MARYLHURST UNIVERSITY
You. Unlimited.

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Comments

I've been predicting this. If open source is bad, it goes away, if good someone buy it! The way of the world....Still waiting for Google to start charging for email..... Guess I getting cynical in my old age.....Best, Rob
 
Dr. Robert Paterson
Vice President, Information Technology, Planning and Research
Molloy College
Rockville Centre, NY
 
Ethan,
 
Moodle could release a subsequent release of Moodle under GPLv3, but since the current code is GPLv2 it could be used under those terms indefinitely.  You'd likely get a fork of Moodle, with the v2 code going to Moodlerooms and other commercial providers and the v3 product remaining the free alternative.  
 
Most companies who make money off of open source software are keeping a careful distance from GPLv3 because of its stronger insistence on sharing code under more circumstances.  Moodle is a great success story in open source, and it will always be available in some form, but perhaps we need commercial providers like Moodlerooms to add their value to the product and move it in directions the open source community might not be able to without commercial involvement. 
 
Interestingly, Sakai is licensed under the Educational Community License (http://opensource.org/licenses/ecl2.php) which is a modified Apache license, which is based on the BSD license, which allows for integration of the code in closed-source commercial products.
 
--Mike


 
 
Mike Richichi
Director of Computing and Network Services
 
 
>>> On 3/26/2012 at 7:21 PM, Ethan Benatan <ebenatan@MARYLHURST.EDU> wrote:
Colleagues- I'd like to hear your thoughts on this one!

As you probably know, Moodlerooms hosts Moodle (and other software) for many colleges, universities, and other types of clients. They've been a good partner to Marylhurst. In recent months, since a leadership change, they have started building proprietary components including proprietary Moodle modules and add-ons. At Marylhurst we've been careful how we used these proprietary features, keeping an eye on exit. Today I am grateful for that.

Today Moodlerooms announced their acquisition by Blackboard as part of that company's open source strategy. Bb also acquired Netspot, another Moodle partner. There's a suitably worded Open Letter and Statement of Principles on the web site, of course. http://www.blackboard.com/About-Bb/News-Center/Press-Releases.aspx?releaseid=1676738

Obviously there are many questions, including the question of the financial influence of Moodle partners over the direction of Moodle.org now that Blackboard owns two of them. But there's also a somewhat arcane, but important, question I've wanted to ask this group for a while:
should Moodle licensing be changed from GPL2 to GPL3?

For anyone who doesn't happen to have a special interest in the GPL, it's an interesting lesson. In my own words (ie my mistake, if you want to point it out!) the GPL was meant to keep open source software open. GPL2 was written in the days when getting software from someone generally meant you got media with compiled code on it. GPL2 says that if you modify code licensed under GPL2 and redistribute it in any form, you have to make the source available for free and under the same license. All well and good. But then along comes the cloud (/SaaS/whathaveyou), and now I can create a business based on modified GPL2 code and selling the service. In this case I never distribute code so I need to give away my modifications. I am free to build a competitive business model that is substantially based on work done for open source. All perfectly legal.

So: Blackboard owns a Moodle hosting company (two, actually). Imagine a scenario in which they offer an "improved" Moodle, which looks like the open source version and in fact is based on all the open source code, but it also has special Blackboard "enhancements". All well and good when you sign on, but it might be a problem when you try to exit. Unless the code for those "enhancements" is publicly released, you may have as hard a time with that exit as you do with exiting any proprietary LMS. GPL2 does not require them to release the code, even if it is tightly integrated into a free version of Moodle.

GPL3 exists precisely to solve this problem. It says you have to give away the source even if you never ship code, but only sell a service based on the code. It's the gap between GPL2 and GPL3 that worries me here, and makes me question the impact of Blackboard's strategic direction. Should Bb be free to offer "enhanced" Moodle that uses all of Moodle's IP but gives back only in ways that they see fit? I think that's a fair question. I've wondered for some time why Moodle is under GPL2 rather than 3. Perhaps you have some insights? I'd love to hear them. On any of this.

Best,

Ethan

ps: I like the Moodlerooms people a lot, and they have been good partners. I am certain that they are committed to remaining good partners. Heck, I find the thinking of their CEO (Lou Pugliese) interesting enough that I got him to write for New Horizons :-) But I wonder about where this whole thing is heading, and what it means for the "guarantees" we think we have with open source.

——
Ethan Benatan, Ph.D.
Vice President for IT &
Chief Information Officer
503.699.6325

MARYLHURST UNIVERSITY
You. Unlimited.

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

I would guess we could see something similar to what Oracle did with Java, MySql, OpenOffice, and Linux (although with Linux it was not an aquisition so much as an adoption and conversion to its own flavor thereof with a repackage to be the officially supported version to run its SW tech on)


Regards,

Jim 

James M. Dutcher - Chair - SUNY Council of CIOs

SUNY Cobleskill - CIO: PMP, CISSP, SCP/Security+, CISA


-------- Original message --------
Subject: [CIO] Blackboard acquisition of Moodlerooms
From: Ethan Benatan <ebenatan@MARYLHURST.EDU>
To: "CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU" <CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU>
CC:


Colleagues- I'd like to hear your thoughts on this one! 

As you probably know, Moodlerooms hosts Moodle (and other software) for many colleges, universities, and other types of clients. They've been a good partner to Marylhurst. In recent months, since a leadership change, they have started building proprietary components including proprietary Moodle modules and add-ons.  At Marylhurst we've been careful how we used these proprietary features, keeping an eye on exit. Today I am grateful for that.

Today Moodlerooms announced their acquisition by Blackboard as part of that company's open source strategy. Bb also acquired Netspot, another Moodle partner. There's a suitably worded Open Letter and Statement of Principles on the web site, of course. http://www.blackboard.com/About-Bb/News-Center/Press-Releases.aspx?releaseid=1676738 

Obviously there are many questions, including the question of the financial influence of Moodle partners over the direction of Moodle.org now that Blackboard owns two of them.  But there's also a somewhat arcane, but important, question I've wanted to ask this group for a while:
should Moodle licensing be changed from GPL2 to GPL3? 

For anyone who doesn't happen to have a special interest in the GPL, it's an interesting lesson. In my own words (ie my mistake, if you want to point it out!)  the GPL was meant to keep open source software open. GPL2 was written in the days when getting software from someone generally meant you got media with compiled code on it.  GPL2 says that if you modify code licensed under GPL2 and redistribute it in any form, you have to make the source available for free and under the same license.  All well and good. But then along comes the cloud (/SaaS/whathaveyou), and now I can create a business based on modified GPL2 code and selling the service. In this case I never distribute code so I need to give away my modifications.  I am free to build a competitive business model that is substantially based on work done for open source. All perfectly legal.

So: Blackboard owns a Moodle hosting company (two, actually). Imagine a scenario in which they offer an "improved" Moodle, which looks like the open source version and in fact is based on all the open source code, but it also has special Blackboard "enhancements". All well and good when you sign on, but it might be a problem when you try to exit. Unless the code for those "enhancements" is publicly released, you may have as hard a time with that exit as you do with exiting any proprietary LMS. GPL2 does not require them to release the code, even if it is tightly integrated into a free version of Moodle.

GPL3 exists precisely to solve this problem. It says you have to give away the source even if you never ship code, but only sell a service based on the code. It's the gap between GPL2 and GPL3 that worries me here, and makes me question the impact of Blackboard's strategic direction.  Should Bb be free to offer "enhanced" Moodle that uses all of Moodle's IP but gives back only in ways that they see fit? I think that's a fair question. I've wondered for some time why Moodle is under GPL2 rather than 3. Perhaps you have some insights? I'd love to hear them. On any of this.

Best,

Ethan

ps: I like the Moodlerooms people a lot, and they have been good partners. I am certain that they are committed to remaining good partners. Heck, I find the thinking of their CEO (Lou Pugliese) interesting enough that I got him to write for New Horizons :-)    But I wonder about where this whole thing is heading, and what it means for the "guarantees" we think we have with open source.

——
Ethan Benatan, Ph.D.
Vice President for IT & 
Chief Information Officer
503.699.6325   

MARYLHURST UNIVERSITY
You. Unlimited.

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Dear colleagues,

Many of us knew this to be coming from very beginning - Moodlerooms was founded by one of Blackboard's founder. 

Regards,

Anwar

Anwar Karim
Texas A&M University - Commerce

I think people are confusing moodlerooms with moodle.org. Moodlerooms is a hosting provider that also offers a proprietary version of moodle for those who are willing to buy in to a vendor lock-in model. If forced to bet, I would guess that the moodlerooms enhanced version of moodle will fork off even further from the actual open source model, and choosing to go with moodlerooms as your host will not be very different than going with blackboard. Time will tell if they make good on their promise to fold their improvements back into the core distribution. I'm not holding my breath on that one.

-- mike


I think this is a cruel betrayal by a company that marketed itself as the alternative to Blackboard.

 

For all of us who refused to do business with such an arrogant company before, it is probably time to reevaluate our alternatives. And this time, I’ll either bring our open source course management system back in house or go with a product that Bb can’t get its hooks into! Sharepoint or Facebook, anyone?

 

What a fun start to the week!

 

Bobby

 

Bobby L. Flack, MBA, CCP

Chief Information Officer

 

 

16300 Old Emmitsburg Road

Emmitsburg, Maryland  21727

(301) 447-3705

 

Faith  ~  Discovery  ~  Leadership  ~  Community

 

 

 

 

SharePoint release 15 is rumored to have a built-in LMS.

 

 

Tim Cappalli, ACMP CCNA | (802) 626-6456

» tim.cappalli@lyndonstate.edu | it.lyndonstate.edu

 

 

Contrary to the statement in this morning’s Chronicle article, Blackboard does not own Moodle or Sakai.  They bought two providers of Moodle support and contracted with an insightful and productive member of the Sakai community to learn how to contribute to Sakai.   It will take time to see how or even if this has real impact on higher education.

Community is key to any project.  The Moodle and Sakai communities are both large.   Open, community source apps like Sakai evolve rapidly and keep pace with needs based on support from a dynamic, global community of stakeholders.  Higher education is blessed with choices for e-learning platforms, some mature and proven, some new and novel, all affecting each other in an ecosystem that needs to interoperate, not just compete.   Thank goodness there's not one winner, or the market might stagnate and higher ed would have fewer choices.

 

            Scott Siddall

______________________________
Scott Siddall, Partner
The Longsight Group LLC
http://longsight.com

 

I have likened Blackboard to a great white shark… eating anything that crosses its path or gets in the way.

 

Can acquisition of D2L be far away??  That is one of the last remaining LMS competitors.

 

Ian McLeod, CCP, I.S.P., ITCP

Director, IT Services

Camosun College

3100 Foul Bay Road

Victoria, BC   V8P 5J2

Tel: 250-370-3293

Fax: 250-370-3968

Email: mcleodi@camosun.bc.ca        

 

 

Ethan, It's good to hear a bit of a broader discussion on "open" around this. I believe Moodle finds significant value from licensing under GPL2 and is a strategic decision to enable sustainability. "All Moodle Partners contribute directly to the ongoing development of Moodle software via funding or expertise" (http://moodle.com/partners/) In many cases, this is done by subsidizing Moodle with revenue derived through Moodle partner services. The GPL2 license enables Moodle partners to create market differentiation around unique services, creating a broader commercial base through greater service levels/opportunities, and ultimately funding, to support the ongoing development of the platform through the Moodle Trust. Martin Dougiamas explains this model in detail in a 2006 OSS Watch article: http://www.oss-watch.ac.uk/resources/cs-moodle.xml. Thus the license, I feel, actually establishes sustainability for the platform--not for the Moodle Partners, of which Moodlerooms and NetSpot were two and, uh, I guess, now one (I believe there are over 50 Moodle Partners today: http://moodle.com/partners/list/). I expect Blackboard will need to comply with the Moodle Partner Requirements (http://moodle.com/partners/requirements/), just like Moodlerooms and NetSpot had to. For me, the acquisition is less about Moodlerooms, NetSpot or Blackboard, than it is about the decision-making campuses undertake--or actually don't--when evaluating open source (and even more broadly, other open initiatives campuses are developing like OER, OCW). In my opinion, and experience, most campuses evaluating open source options are driven by reducing costs, not the extended potential benefits of open development practices. I have had numerous discussions with campuses looking at open source options and rarely do issues other than costs and feature parity come up, for example, quality of the code, transparency, accountability, pace of development, lock-in (both vendor and functional), customization, standards, community, security, governance, etc. Indeed most campuses are unprepared to assess the value proposition of open source software beyond TCO/ROI, as they lack a comprehensive understanding of openness itself (the issues previously listed and what enables those) and thus have no means to assess it, e.g. what metrics/criteria do campuses apply to identify and measure transparency or community? I would offer as an example, eight of the ten presentations specific to the migration to Moodle in EDUCAUSE's Moodle Resources (http://www.educause.edu/Resources/Browse/Moodle/27756) focus on cost savings and features for their evaluation (two of those mentioned features alone). One of the ten, in addition to costs and features, included the ability to customize the software as a driver, but only two of the ten included other open source values (customization, pace of development, community, quality, etc.) as well. Does this mean only 30% of those evaluating Moodle valued other qualities of openness important? Obviously this is not a comprehensive survey, but it highlights my point (good enough for a listserv post anyway!). I believe most campuses working with in open source service providers are not really interested in the value proposition of open source itself, but rather, adopted Moodle to reduced costs (both LMS licensing and local hosting costs) without losing functionally. I don't know NetSpot's pricing model, but when I was CIO at SUNY Delhi we moved to Moodlerooms hosting when it was $1 per user - is that price still available? I offer, had campuses understood issues related to open source and valued openness, many may not have selected Moodlerooms' Joule in favor of RemoteLearner's native Moodle offerings. As you say, " In recent months, since a leadership change, [Moodlerooms has] started building proprietary components including proprietary Moodle modules and add-ons." With proprietary integrations, potential vendor lock-in, a small development community (just Moodlerooms dev staff), fewer opportunities in governance, etc., those campuses assessing Moodlerooms' openness (not Moodle's) might have considered other service providers or even local hosting. Please do not interpret this to mean Joule and Moodlerooms are a poor choice compared to native Moodle and RemoteLearner. Many campuses clearly expressed the desire for a "turn-key" solution. My question is, what was the due-diligence undertaken to identify and assess how these platforms and their supporting organizations might align with, not only the goals/expectations of the campus evaluating them, but the various open source communities of practice as well? I should think Moodlerooms' customers would be very pleased by the acquisition, as Blackboard is a much more mature company (more resources and more experience), while those running Moodle locally might give no more consideration about the acquisition than if Blackboard had announced their own, new start-up offering Moodle support, or another completely new Moodle partner started up (imagine Pearson announced they were supporting Moodle rather than developing OpenClass). Additionally, considering the GPL2 license, the Moodle community should be pleased as well, as a significant new source of funding might be on its way to help with the development of Moodle. Blackboard may be able to change the "flavor" of Moodle (indeed Moodlerooms may already have), but Blackboard, in order to not just honor the promises it has made (http://www.blackboard.com/About-Bb/News-Center/Press-Releases/Strategy-U...) but comply with the Moodle partner program and the GPL2 license, will have to contribute back to the Moodle community. Most of the discussions I have heard on this are specific to Moodle and Moodlerooms. I suspect the Sakai campuses are also wondering how this affects their community, development and support. For example, how can/will Blackboard contribute going forward? What do Longsight, rSmart, Unicon, etc. think of the new competition--were they approached by Bb; what is their exposure; opportunities? (This is just a guess, but I am thinking Blackboard bought Moodle Partners over Sakai Commercial Affiliates because they wanted immediate access to qualified staff, a mature infrastructure, and the technical resources to support LAMP--versus a J2EE environment which Blackboard is already fully capable of supporting. Also hiring Chuck Severance gives them a nice connection to the Sakai product and community) Looking at the ECL-2.0 license for Sakai, Blackboard can, "use, offer to sell, sell, import, and otherwise transfer the work" and they can add their "own copyright statement to.....modifications and may provide additional or different license terms and conditions for use, reproduction, or distribution of [their] modifications, or for any such Derivative Works as a whole..." This, I think actually might result in greater ambiguity for Sakai than the Moodle license/model does for the Moodle community. A few years ago a bit of a hubbub arose over the difference and benefits in the various open licenses on this and the Openness forum, so I will not rehash that here. I bring it up just to highlight, again, understanding open source and openness, and how we evaluate our options, is now just as critical as the traditional (legacy) activities in the procurement processes undertaken in our IT shops and on our campuses. And, as more and more services: move "to the cloud;" promote open source options; offer free web services, etc., our ability to assess the feasibility and viability of not just the services, but the organizations utilizing those development/support methodologies will (has) become critical of us. As an advocate of openness I welcome the inclusion of another organization. The more voices, the sweeter the choir. If you believe in the principles behind openness--essentially meritocracy--and promote the practices that enable them--transparency, collaboration, iteration, use/reuse, self-organization/direction, etc.--the end results might not be Moodle, Sakai or Blackboard, but better technologies in support of teaching and learning online. Just a thought, Patrick P.S. I will take this opportunity to plug a few things: The 2-3-98 Project (part of Jasig) is looking at exactly this issue--practices and polices in place of traditional procurement practices that might fail to include mechanisms for the identification, evaluation and acquisition of open source options. See: http://www.jasig.org/2-3-98 || |||| ||| || | | || ||| || ||| || | | ||| || ||| || Patrick Masson Chief Technology Officer, UMassOnline The University of Massachusetts, Office of the President 333 South St., Suite 400, Shrewsbury, MA 01545 (774) 455-7615: Office (774) 455-7620: Fax (970) 4MASSON: GoogleVoice UMOLPatMasson: AIM massonpj: Skype Web Site: http://www.umassonline.net Blog: http://www.umassonlineblog.com ________________________________________ From: Ethan Benatan > Date: Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 7:21 PM Subject: [CIO] Blackboard acquisition of Moodlerooms To: CIO@listserv.educause.edu Colleagues- I'd like to hear your thoughts on this one! As you probably know, Moodlerooms hosts Moodle (and other software) for many colleges, universities, and other types of clients. They've been a good partner to Marylhurst. In recent months, since a leadership change, they have started building proprietary components including proprietary Moodle modules and add-ons. At Marylhurst we've been careful how we used these proprietary features, keeping an eye on exit. Today I am grateful for that. Today Moodlerooms announced their acquisition by Blackboard as part of that company's open source strategy. Bb also acquired Netspot, another Moodle partner. There's a suitably worded Open Letter and Statement of Principles on the web site, of course. http://www.blackboard.com/About-Bb/News-Center/Press-Releases.aspx?relea... Obviously there are many questions, including the question of the financial influence of Moodle partners over the direction of Moodle.org now that Blackboard owns two of them. But there's also a somewhat arcane, but important, question I've wanted to ask this group for a while: should Moodle licensing be changed from GPL2 to GPL3? For anyone who doesn't happen to have a special interest in the GPL, it's an interesting lesson. In my own words (ie my mistake, if you want to point it out!) the GPL was meant to keep open source software open. GPL2 was written in the days when getting software from someone generally meant you got media with compiled code on it. GPL2 says that if you modify code licensed under GPL2 and redistribute it in any form, you have to make the source available for free and under the same license. All well and good. But then along comes the cloud (/SaaS/whathaveyou), and now I can create a business based on modified GPL2 code and selling the service. In this case I never distribute code so I need to give away my modifications. I am free to build a competitive business model that is substantially based on work done for open source. All perfectly legal. So: Blackboard owns a Moodle hosting company (two, actually). Imagine a scenario in which they offer an "improved" Moodle, which looks like the open source version and in fact is based on all the open source code, but it also has special Blackboard "enhancements". All well and good when you sign on, but it might be a problem when you try to exit. Unless the code for those "enhancements" is publicly released, you may have as hard a time with that exit as you do with exiting any proprietary LMS. GPL2 does not require them to release the code, even if it is tightly integrated into a free version of Moodle. GPL3 exists precisely to solve this problem. It says you have to give away the source even if you never ship code, but only sell a service based on the code. It's the gap between GPL2 and GPL3 that worries me here, and makes me question the impact of Blackboard's strategic direction. Should Bb be free to offer "enhanced" Moodle that uses all of Moodle's IP but gives back only in ways that they see fit? I think that's a fair question. I've wondered for some time why Moodle is under GPL2 rather than 3. Perhaps you have some insights? I'd love to hear them. On any of this. Best, Ethan ps: I like the Moodlerooms people a lot, and they have been good partners. I am certain that they are committed to remaining good partners. Heck, I find the thinking of their CEO (Lou Pugliese) interesting enough that I got him to write for New Horizons :-) But I wonder about where this whole thing is heading, and what it means for the "guarantees" we think we have with open source. —— Ethan Benatan, Ph.D. Vice President for IT & Chief Information Officer 503.699.6325 MARYLHURST UNIVERSITY You. Unlimited. ********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.
There's no worry about Moodle being bought, as Mike Roy points out. Moodle is not moodle.org and moodle.org is not Moodlerooms!!!   Any GPL'd code is out there, forever. (It's a pity about the confusing Chronicle article.) 

I do however worry a bit about Moodle being forked into a a proprietary version and a truly open version. 

The Moodle license (GPL2) gives Blackboard—or any of us, any time—the right to make a derivative version of Moodle and to sell a service based on it, without sharing the modified code.  It's not clear what Blackboard will do, but that route seems likely, and if they go that way it will effectively fork Moodle. The commercial, hosted version would always benefit from the public version, but the public version would not be guaranteed anything in return.

If Blackboard wants to, they can put a stake in the ground now and state publicly that they will treat all their Moodle development as if it were under GPL3, ie they will release the code for free rather than creating a commercial fork. They've said some promising things in the press releases, but they have stopped well short of making that commitment.  If Blackboard wants to offer Moodle hosting and integration on a level playing field, I'm all for it; they are a welcome participant in the community.  If they want to benefit from open source without making full contributions back—ie, if they want to offer Moodle with special Blackboard-only features, effectively forking the project—then I'm not such a happy camper.  

The sky is not falling. Open source projects have come to this before, many times. Heck, OSX is linux-based!  That didn't kill linux, and this won't kill Moodle. But it's an interesting time to be involved. For one thing, Apple probably wasn't afraid of linux eating it's market share, or significantly competing for customers; their motivation was different.  There are many things still to play out.

Ethan




——
Ethan Benatan, Ph.D.
Vice President for IT & 
Chief Information Officer
503.699.6325   

MARYLHURST UNIVERSITY
You. Unlimited.


********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

I need to practice what I preach. I posted this to the CIO list and did not include the Openness CG list - sorry. Someday the initial posts around open issues will hit the openness cg list first--some day!!! ________________________________________
"I believe most campuses working with in open source service providers are not really interested in the value proposition of open source itself, but rather, adopted Moodle to reduced costs (both LMS licensing and local hosting costs) without losing functionally." Cost reduction and risk aversion, this despite the publicly-available tools for assessing OSS readiness, tips for implementation, etc. Perhaps the memory of negative consequences for those in the late-1990s/early 200's who made "wrong" (for their respective institutions) ERP selection decisions still lingers. Shahron Williams van Rooij, Ph.D., PMP Assistant Professor, Instructional Technology College of Education and Human Development George Mason University 4400 University Dr. MSN 5D6 Fairfax, VA 22030 Phone: (703) 993-9704 Fax: (703) 993-2722 Program URL: http://it.gse.gmu.edu
Message from slowe@1610group.com

Bobby,

I understand your frustration.  ANGEL was another company that used to bill itself as the alternative and they sold to Blackboard a couple of years ago.  My previous institution made the move from ANGEL to Moodlerooms shortly after that announcement.

I have to admit that I was surprised to see the Moodlerooms announcement, but in the world of business, I suppose anything is possible.

Scott Lowe
Founder, The 1610 Group

Message from mike.cunningham@pct.edu

Does all of this make you want to switch to home-grown for all your core business software?

 

From: The EDUCAUSE CIO Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Scott Lowe
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 3:04 PM
To: CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
Subject: Re: [CIO] Blackboard acquisition of Moodlerooms

 

Bobby,

 

I understand your frustration.  ANGEL was another company that used to bill itself as the alternative and they sold to Blackboard a couple of years ago.  My previous institution made the move from ANGEL to Moodlerooms shortly after that announcement.

 

I have to admit that I was surprised to see the Moodlerooms announcement, but in the world of business, I suppose anything is possible.

 

Scott Lowe

Founder, The 1610 Group

 

Message from slowe@1610group.com

Mike,

In a way, yes, but that's certainly not feasible!

There is obvious and significant consolidation of the software in the higher education market that seems of concern, though.  There is a very visible future in which higher education is held hostage by just a few vendors.  Right or wrong, some institutions make strategic decisions to escape the clutches of some of the players that are often seen as predatory, but that's getting more difficult every day.

Scott

Actually, I would not be surprised if Desire2Learn follows suit and gets into the Moodle and Sakai hosting services business.  

Why not?  

These folks know how to run reliable LMS hosting services for their respective products.  After all, when it comes to LMS backend system administration, a company, like D2L or Blackboard, and easily repurpose their tomcat, Oracle, load balancer, NetApp, SAN, back-ups, system integration etc. expertise to a handful of other LMS products.

A lot of good could come out of these recent developments.
Too early to tell, at this juncture.

Greetings from the floors of Educause Midwest in Chicago,

Ed Garay            
Assistant Director for Academic Computing
Director, UIC Instructional Technology Lab
University of Illinois at Chicago


** Ubiquitously social...
    <iPad>

Message from portablecio@gmail.com

I don't think this should be a surprise to anyone.

On August 16th 2011, I wrote the following (see below):
"Your xCEO of Blackboard runs MoodleRooms. I wonder what is going to happen to Moodlerooms. Is my Angel a MadDuck?  ;)"

Despite their bluff, eventually Blackboard will merge Moodlerooms into Blackboard 9x/10x because it is too expensive to run multiple learning management systems' product development operations in parallel (see Prometheus, WebCT, Angel, MadDuck). So if you are OK with migrating to Blackboard (and eventually paying more) you should stick to Moodlerooms.

If, however; you selected Moodlerooms as an alternative to Blackboard or because your faculty preferred Moodle, I would suggest porting your courses to another Moodle hosting provider that services higher education.


Message from dmbarber@gmail.com

Perhaps Blackboard is following a strategy similar to Verizon et al. Seem's like the telco's have been moving away from their old landline infrastructures, seeing them as a less profitable line of business. Maybe for Blackboard the money is no longer in the LMS, especially when you have to pay for software development and compete with open source. Instead, returns are to be had from integration, hosting and other parts of the software portfolio, e.g. emergency notification ... So, in the long-term according to such a strategy you'd support open source and give up on your own platform.

I think the more interesting dynamic to look for is not what other LMS companies Blackboard decides to gobble up but what other industries it may be preparing to fend off in the very lucrative business of online learning systems like: 

 

·         Publishers : They have the electronic content and at least some already have a learning system architecture (I.e. McGraw hill)

·         Portals players:  They have built-in  content and workflow management plus  ready-made design templates like  (i.e. SharePoint and Oracle)  …not a big leap to turn those into LMS

·         ERP providers : They already have all the basics education structure, document handling,  communication systems, learning assessment modules , portals, etc..

 

I personally think this is what  BB is positioning itself for, being able to take on the big boys when the real fight begins.  And of course BB has been just as active developing their own full range of portfolio partnering with Pearson publishing  for electronic content,  working with Hobson to explore opportunities in student relation and academic performance areas and of courses all things portal and mobile.

 

 

 

Message from nathan.bailey@monash.edu

On 28 March 2012 07:45, Portable CIO <portablecio@gmail.com> wrote:
...
Despite their bluff, eventually Blackboard will merge Moodlerooms into Blackboard 9x/10x because it is too expensive to run multiple learning management systems' product development operations in parallel (see Prometheus, WebCT, Angel, MadDuck).
… 

I don't agree with this; there is a significant difference here. Neither Moodlerooms or NetSpot "own" or even "drive" the functional development of Moodle. Blackboard doesn't need to invest anything (beyond Moodle partnership costs) to continue to deliver Moodle (and Sakai). It may choose to develop "value add" components to make its offerings more competitive, the economics behind such work would be far simpler than developing competing LMSes (ie. you only build enough functionality to make your hosting compelling enough in comparison to alternatives).

I do think that new Moodle vendors are likely to arise as a result of this, but that should be a good thing, in terms of market diversity.

Nathan

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Keep in mind that there are other great open source alternatives still out there.  Most universities in Utah are currently using Canvas by Instructure, which uses the AGPLv3 license. 
 
 
 
"The GNU Affero General Public License is a modified version of the ordinary GNU GPL version 3. It has one added requirement: if you run the program on a server and let other users communicate with it there, your server must also allow them to download the source code corresponding to the program that it's running. If what's running there is your modified version of the program, the server's users must get the source code as you modified it."
 
Cheers,
 
Tristan
 
--
Tristan Rhodes
Network Engineer
Weber State University
(801) 626-8549


>>> On 3/26/2012 at 5:21 PM, in message <CAG3GScHcvhAOX0pRWJkX1FeXMrkF1BsPBQEnQZ9cb8kgaOooGA@mail.gmail.com>, Ethan Benatan <ebenatan@MARYLHURST.EDU> wrote:
Colleagues- I'd like to hear your thoughts on this one!

As you probably know, Moodlerooms hosts Moodle (and other software) for many colleges, universities, and other types of clients. They've been a good partner to Marylhurst. In recent months, since a leadership change, they have started building proprietary components including proprietary Moodle modules and add-ons. At Marylhurst we've been careful how we used these proprietary features, keeping an eye on exit. Today I am grateful for that.

Today Moodlerooms announced their acquisition by Blackboard as part of that company's open source strategy. Bb also acquired Netspot, another Moodle partner. There's a suitably worded Open Letter and Statement of Principles on the web site, of course. http://www.blackboard.com/About-Bb/News-Center/Press-Releases.aspx?releaseid=1676738

Obviously there are many questions, including the question of the financial influence of Moodle partners over the direction of Moodle.org now that Blackboard owns two of them. But there's also a somewhat arcane, but important, question I've wanted to ask this group for a while:
should Moodle licensing be changed from GPL2 to GPL3?

For anyone who doesn't happen to have a special interest in the GPL, it's an interesting lesson. In my own words (ie my mistake, if you want to point it out!) the GPL was meant to keep open source software open. GPL2 was written in the days when getting software from someone generally meant you got media with compiled code on it. GPL2 says that if you modify code licensed under GPL2 and redistribute it in any form, you have to make the source available for free and under the same license. All well and good. But then along comes the cloud (/SaaS/whathaveyou), and now I can create a business based on modified GPL2 code and selling the service. In this case I never distribute code so I need to give away my modifications. I am free to build a competitive business model that is substantially based on work done for open source. All perfectly legal.

So: Blackboard owns a Moodle hosting company (two, actually). Imagine a scenario in which they offer an "improved" Moodle, which looks like the open source version and in fact is based on all the open source code, but it also has special Blackboard "enhancements". All well and good when you sign on, but it might be a problem when you try to exit. Unless the code for those "enhancements" is publicly released, you may have as hard a time with that exit as you do with exiting any proprietary LMS. GPL2 does not require them to release the code, even if it is tightly integrated into a free version of Moodle.

GPL3 exists precisely to solve this problem. It says you have to give away the source even if you never ship code, but only sell a service based on the code. It's the gap between GPL2 and GPL3 that worries me here, and makes me question the impact of Blackboard's strategic direction. Should Bb be free to offer "enhanced" Moodle that uses all of Moodle's IP but gives back only in ways that they see fit? I think that's a fair question. I've wondered for some time why Moodle is under GPL2 rather than 3. Perhaps you have some insights? I'd love to hear them. On any of this.

Best,

Ethan

ps: I like the Moodlerooms people a lot, and they have been good partners. I am certain that they are committed to remaining good partners. Heck, I find the thinking of their CEO (Lou Pugliese) interesting enough that I got him to write for New Horizons :-) But I wonder about where this whole thing is heading, and what it means for the "guarantees" we think we have with open source.

——
Ethan Benatan, Ph.D.
Vice President for IT &
Chief Information Officer
503.699.6325

MARYLHURST UNIVERSITY
You. Unlimited.

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Thanks, Tristan! 

I was wrong when I said that protection came from GPL3; as you point out, it's a different variant, AGPL, that brings it. I stand corrected.

Of course it's very hard or perhaps impossible to move existing code from GPL2 to AGPL3, which is an incompatible license (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#AGPL). So it's not realistic to change Moodle's current licensing. However, this chain of events may push us to think about exactly what assurances we get with each kind of license. There are subtle but important differences.

Ethan

——
Ethan Benatan, Ph.D.
Vice President for IT & 
Chief Information Officer
503.699.6325   

MARYLHURST UNIVERSITY
You. Unlimited.



Hi, Just saw these posts and I wanted to correct a factoid I saw: Moodle *is* under GPLv3+, not GPLv2.  We upgraded the license with Moodle 2.0. http://docs.moodle.org/dev/License Ethan Benatan said: > GPL3 exists precisely to solve this problem. It says you have to give away the source even if you never ship code, but only sell a service based on the code. That's not my understanding. Where do you see that in the license? Cheers, Martin -- /// Moodle - open-source software for collaborative learning /// /// Free software, community, information: http://moodle.org /// Commercial support and other services: http://moodle.com ********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.
I am so glad that you pointed this out.  Thanks!

Ellen

Ellen Marie Murphy
Director of Online Curriculum
SUNY Empire State College
113 West Ave
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
518-587-2100 Ext: 2961
twitter: ellen_marie

-----The EDUCAUSE OPENNESS Constituent Group Listserv <OPENNESS@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU> wrote: -----
To: OPENNESS@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
From: Martin Dougiamas
Sent by: The EDUCAUSE OPENNESS Constituent Group Listserv
Date: 03/29/2012 01:49AM
Subject: Re: [OPENNESS] [CIO] Blackboard acquisition of Moodlerooms

Hi,

Just saw these posts and I wanted to correct a factoid I saw:

Moodle *is* under GPLv3+, not GPLv2.  We upgraded the license with Moodle 2.0.

   http://docs.moodle.org/dev/License


Ethan Benatan said:
>  GPL3 exists precisely to solve this problem. It says you have to give away the source even if you never ship code, but only sell a service based on the code.

That's not my understanding.  Where do you see that in the license?

Cheers,
Martin
--
/// Moodle - open-source software for collaborative learning
///
/// Free software, community, information: http://moodle.org
/// Commercial support and other services: http://moodle.com

**********
Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.
********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

My understanding of the difference between GPL v2 and v3 is that it mainly concerns A) patents and B) v3 directly addresses service providers. (http://www.techlawforum.net/post.cfm/gpl-3-overview)

The patent part is good for openness in light of the acquisition. Blackboard can't plant a patent Trojan horse in moodle, and then later try to collect royalties or shut down sites running moodle for patent infringement.

However the service provider part SPECIFICALLY states that if moodlerooms/blackboard adds to moodle on their platform, they have no obligation to contribute that code back to the open source moodle code base. (see the section about ASPs in the link above.) It actually protects blackboard's right to create their own fork and not share it, so long as it is only in a hosted platform.

So, I think it is great that moodle 2.0+ is GPLv3, because it prevents blackboard from intentionally planting a trojan patent horse in the code, but it really does nothing to prevent the fork in the code most people seem to be concerned about.

Ethan (the other Ethan)

-- Ethan Sommer Associate Director of Core Services 507-933-7042 sommere@gustavus.edu

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