I received the following email from George Kroner, a developer who works for Blackboard:
I wanted to point out one issue I take with your recent blog post. OSCELOT, the open source organization that you mention, is not maintained by Blackboard. Rather, OSCELOT is a separate, independent organization that was founded by a number of Blackboard clients and now hosts 300 developers who contribute to over 100 different open source educational tools. Specifically, their mission is to support the creation of interoperable learning tools that span multiple platforms. Yes, it is true that we sometimes sponsor their events – just like we sponsor the events of a number of other organizations. Yes, it is true that a lot of the tools they have to offer plug into Blackboard’s LMSs, but this is due to the history of the organization. Every organization has to start somewhere. You’ll notice some tools are actually webapps or binary executables that aren’t connected to Blackboard in any way.
The OSCELOT gang is a bunch of fun, bright individuals who have a true passion for advancing education with open source tools, apps, simulators, etc. Many of them are instructional designers, librarians, sysadmins, and individuals only tangentially connected to Blackboard who contribute their own non-work time to this organization. Personally, I think you are doing them a huge disservice by knocking their work in this way. Their vision is much bigger than being just a Blackboard development shop. As for me, I’m quite proud of what they do – just as you are proud of the work going on in the Sakai community. In fact, some of the contributors to OSCELOT also contribute to Sakai. Hopefully as everyone commits to and implements the open standards that we both believe in, we’ll see collaborative opportunities through organizations such as OSCELOT that will afford us the opportunity to more effectively move forward together.
It certainly was not my intention to denigrate the OSCELOT contributors in any way, and I appreciate George's note to correct the record regarding the organization.
That said, none of this changes my main point about Blackboard, Inc.'s opportunistic touting of the value of open source when it is developed for their platform while simultaneously attacking it with falsehoods and poor argumentation when it competes with their offerings.