If you haven’t seen the news yet, Microsoft and Blackboard Open Solutions for Moodle announced a partnership yesterday to promote and support the Office 365 plugins to Blackboard’s ever-growing Moodle user base. It’s funny to me how much the world has changed, and how the relationship of Blackboard and Microsoft with open source software is often confused. Not enough people know that Microsoft is one of the largest contributors to open source projects like Linux, and even fewer people know that Blackboard has been the largest contributor to Moodle, both in money and in code, for the last four years.
But enough history, why is this integration so important? When I first got into the Moodle community about five years ago, Martin Dougiamas, the founder of Moodle, had started positioning Moodle as a “platform”, rather than a learning management system or a virtual learning environment. This really resonated with me, because I had come from the world of ERP systems for business, which were monolithic giants, which never actually worked the way that you wanted them to. This idea that Moodle could become transparent to the users, and the information flowed seamlessly between various applications, and my user experience of connecting with Moodle might not even happen inside of Moodle seemed right.
Fast forward a bit. Blackboard recently switched to Office 365, and I must say, I’m impressed (I’m especially a fan of the Outlook app for iPad). Office 365 is gaining popularity in education around the world, and, as our Moodle platform makes a significant push into corporate, this integration will be even more popular. It provides seamless integration between productivity tools and teaching and learning tools, supported by two of the biggest proponents of open source in their markets. I couldn’t be more thrilled to get this out to our customers.