This is really grotesque. Last year Blackboard was awarded a US patent on its purportedly original idea of course management systems. The fact that it was actually awarded the patent is in itself an absurd exercise, because with this patent BB may rightfully sue whoever is using or developing an Open Source or home-grown course management systems, be it Moodle, Sakai, or whatever. For instance, at my college, where we’re using Moodle, we would be liable of patent infringment, even though we’ve been using it since much earlier that the patent award.
Of course, the OS and e-learning communities exploded with rage, including EDUCAUSE, which issued a very strong statement and a letter to BB.
So, on the 2nd of February BB announced it would not actually use its patent(s) against open source developers or users, with some exclusions. BB issued a (legally binding) pledge. Neither EDUCAUSE nor Sakai, nor Moodle are happy. And neither am I. Why? Because this is not really the point.
The point is that I might get (very wrongly) sued just because I’m using Moodle or Sakai. Ergo, I need to get permission to Blackboard for using Moodle. Is it clear? BB is giving us permission to use Moodle. Thank you.
Read the article from Campus Technology: Update: Sakai, Blackboard Comment on Patent Pledge.
Another issue that bothers me, for the sake of honesty. In all this battle, Sakai is emerging with a greater authority than it actually has. I like the effort, and it must be given credit for a great job and great ideas. But Moodle is much more authoritative, being adopted at many many universities around the globe, from Britain’s Open University to Canada’s Athabasca U, to the famed UCLA. Moodle offers a comprehensive package with a didactic soundness that is unrivalled even in the “commercial” side of the river. Read an interesting comparison between WebCT, Moodle and Sakai from the Instructional Technology Resource Center at Idaho State University.