Posted by: rmostell | May 7, 2009

Blackboard Buys Angel Learning

This is great news!  By buying the best technology available in the field, Blackboard will finally consolidate all of the desirable features that we have been looking for in a learning management system (LMS), a.k.a virtual learning environment.  This combines the power of Blackboard, WebCT and Angel Learning all under one roof.  This will include flexibility, ease of use, almost unlimited features (bells and whistles) to choose from, a variety of addons and plugins, integration with other administrative and learning software systems, transparent access to an integrated backend content management system, file sharing, single-login, user-friendly collaboration and communication tools, the best online security available, student portfolios, Web 2.0 social networking features …  the list goes on and on.

Blackboard is following the Microsoft model of software development – buy it, don’t develop it – with a similar ultimate goal in mind – the best and only product on the market.  However, Blackboard President and CEO Michael Chasen warns that “there’s more competition today … than ever before”.

Following Microsoft’s success in  litigation, Blackboard is also defending its now infamous “single login” invention (‘138 patent) in the courtroom and the patent office (U.S. PTO).  This giant step forward for mankind (“single login”) has brought education out of the dark ages and right to our desktops and laptops.  Without this feature we would probably still be using green on black, 24 x 80 character screens (dumb terminals) to reach out to our students.  With Angel Learning off the table (of competition), Blackboard can now better focus it’s efforts on threats from the ever growing foreign competition from the North (e.g. Canada).

The other major advantage this move brings to academic institutions adopting Blackboard is stability and predictability.  They can now rely on the same quality of service and support that they have received in the past, the customer first business approach, and the same transparency of their licensing structure.  In fact, institutions can now save a great deal of money because they will no longer need to hire business employees (book keepers, accountants, analysts) to predict their future IT costs.  They can simply hire a high school math student who can plot e to the xth power on the ordinate versus x on the abscissa in order to calculate their future expenditures.  This leaves little room for doubt in planning future educational IT budgets.

When will John Baker, President and CEO of Desire2Learn, finally get the picture and come to the party.  He needs to come down off his high horse.  Who does he think he is, a Mountie?  He could be filthy rich and own his own exotic tropical island (where it doesn’t snow, John, and never freezes).  He could build his own tropical hockey rink.  What’s wrong with him?  Is he one of these old-fashioned business types that believes in the principles of hard work, innovation and open competition?  Doesn’t he know that, in the internet age, education begins in the classroom and ends in the courtroom.  $80 million (USD) is a lot of dough, John.  How much is that in Canadian coin?  It won’t even fit in your suitcase when you pack up to move to the tropics.

John, it’s time to circle the wagons and call in the posse.  You are under attack.

Who’s the real winner here?  Is it Blackboard? or Angel Learning? or education?  No, it’s open source learning management systems.  This S&D mission will drive even more academic institutions to examine more closely the open source alternatives (Sakai, Moodle, Trellis, etc.) and to re-evaluate the total cost of ownership of open source versus proprietary software.  Hopefully, it will also drive more academic institutions to support the non-profit foundations behind some of these open source movements that generate educational software.

It’s a sad day for all learners.

News and blogs:

Campus Technology:

Washington Post:

The Chronicle of Higher Education:

e-Literate Blog (Michael Feldstein):

Related info:

Desire2Learn patent blog

Open Source Learning Management Systems

Question: If your LMS uses some feature or plugin in Internet Explorer, is that “bundling”?



  1. […] […]

  2. […] blog: Blackboard buys Angel Learning Copied verbatim from the Desire2Learn website:  and […]

  3. […] […]

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