Monday, December 13, 2004

Commercial vs. OpenSource DLE

Within the framework of the Elise e-learning course that I am taking this fall, I had an interesting discussion on the choice between proprietary commercial software for digital learning environments (e.g. BlackBoard, WebCT) versus OpenSource solutions (e.g. Dokeos, Moodle).

It turns out that one of the Flemish universities decided to fully move from BlackBoard to Dokeos next year.

The reasons for this move are enumerated in this (dutch) pdf report. The reasons are related to (1) the expensive licencing policy of BlackBoard, (2) the relative ease of integration with existing administrative systems, (3) the possibilities of extension (e.g with an e-portfolio) and customisation, (4) the use of IMS and SCORM standards.

Such a decision seems to reflect a gradual shift away from commercial systems such as WebCT, as suggested in this article, which I found this article in Stephen Downes' blog. The conclusion from the article is the following:
With so many comparable open source softwares [OSS] emerging for course management, containing more varied features than WebCT, one has to wonder: how long can such costly proprietary products survive? In the case of WebCT, the short answer to this is - possibly two years. If, as has been suggested, the vendor will no longer support earlier versions than Vista after 2006, it will either gather massive upgrade payments from many of its clients in the interim, or will lose them altogether to the new OSS systems. So is this WebCT's last attempt to make large amounts of money in the face of the growing OSS challenge, its “last hurrah?”
Interesting discussion...

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