Blackboard Calls it Quits

We've received a lot of calls and emails about Blackboard's announcement, so I figure it's easiest to just make a post about it. Here you go:

Yesterday Blackboard announced that it has officially gotten out of the LMS business. They are now an education software and service conglomerate. They now "own" the legacy LMS market by supporting 5 different LMS products (6 if you include the D2L cross-licensing agreement.)

The fence line just shifted again.The fence line just shifted again.

In other words, they don't care what LMS you pick. They will gladly take your money for whatever flavor of LMS you choose, as long as they can bill you for generic IT software and services. In a lot of ways, they are becoming IBM (minus the research labs) which is known as the IT support provider of last resort - the shop to go to when your institution relies on outdated technology (yes, they still happily support COBOL and mainframes). Blackboard is now a full service company supporting the "late majority" and the "laggards".

But what about open source? Yes Ray Henderson talks a lot about open source, but clearly it's eyewash. Blackboard hasn't changed, but hope springs eternal.

And what about ANGEL? Yes, they gave ANGEL a temporary reprieve from life support. Give it a year or two, and it will be back on the chopping block. In the meantime, I'm sure they will do the absolute minimum required to keep ANGEL alive until they feel they can afford to cut it loose. They have 5 different systems they need to support and develop - when resources get tight, which LMS do you think will get the short end of the stick?

So, what's going to happen now? Expect more confusion. I don't think it requires much imagination to suppose that the Moodle and Sakai community will become even more jumbled and Blackboard will shove innovation even further back on the burner.

And what about Instructure? Most of our customers are former Blackboard schools. We rarely see Moodle or Sakai make it to the short list of any education institution. We launched only 13 months ago and have just closed our 128th school. Why did Alamo Colleges, Auburn University, Brown University, Maricopa Community Colleges and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania pick us? Because Canvas is the open, full featured LMS platform, built on modern technology, native to the cloud. Instructure is about innovation.

And no, Blackboard can't buy us - it's not all about the money. (Yes, that's my 2011 W-2.)

Keep learning,