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From: "Rob Abel" <rabel@IMSGLOBAL.ORG>
To: CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
Sent: Friday, May 8, 2009 11:33:01 AM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: Re: CIO Blackboard buys out Angel

Hi Everyone,

Having been involved in high tech product development for about 30 years, including 5 years supporting about 50 institutions academic and online technology, I wanted to throw in an important point into this conversation.

First I need to point out that in my current position I "don't have any horse in the course management race. Blackboard, Moodle, eCollege, Sakai, D2L, ANGEL, Ucompass.com and a bunch of overseas CMS providers you have probably never heard of are all members of the IMS Global Learning Consortium.

OK - so my point is this:

You need to understand that a relentless pursuit to drive down the price of course management systems is a self-fulfilling prophecy. A major factor in why companies like ANGEL sell out is because the market doesn't hold enough revenue potential for organic growth to be as rewarding as selling out. This is why WebCT sold out as well. In a way, relentless focus on price makes it easier for a dominant company to pick off the competitors.

So, whereas you have every right to be considering the value that course management systems bring versus other enterprise systems, if the value is low and universities won't pay, then the scenario for evolution is very clear. Companies/organizations that only produce this category of products will not be able to stand on their own. They need to be subsumed by some other entity that is interested.

So, Blackboard is one such entity (but notice how they are not just a course management business). Pearson is another - they acquired eCollege. If you like Moodle, then you should be hoping that Moodle finds a safe home from which it can live on and prosper - and compete against potentially better resourced organizations. Same for Sakai.

Something to keep in mind as you consider what to do.

Best regards,
Rob
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IMS Global Learning Consortium
Where the World's Leaders in Learning Converge
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Rob Abel, Ed.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Office +1.407.792.4164 * Mobile +1.407.687.7255 * skype: rob_abel
rabel@imsglobal.org * www.imsglobal.org

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