Consolidation in Online Distance Learning Tools Market

Shaking Up the Marketpdf

In a move that could have many reverberations in higher education, the publishing giant Pearson announced a deal Monday in which it will purchase eCollege, which offers course management and other services for distance education. Many analysts predict that the move will create a major competitor to Blackboard in course management and some say the sale could presage more consolidation among producers of software and content for higher education.

[…] Since Blackboard bought out WebCT, Blackboard has dominated the course management market, facing a few relatively small corporate competitors — and growing interest in open source alternatives. Blackboard has also faced a messy fight with open source advocates over the company’s patent claims, although those tensions have lessened somewhat since the company pledged not to use its patent rights to sue open source projects in higher education.

Urdan said that in this environment, it is natural to expect a major player to challenge Blackboard. “My sense has been that somebody large would be positioning themselves against Blackboard. Postsecondary buyers are always worried about a monopoly, so they will welcome a new player,” he said. At the same time, Urdan stressed that Blackboard “is a tough competitor and isn’t going to roll over.”

See earlier posts on Blackboard’s patent issues.