Open Source Alternatives for Blackboard & WebCT
As some of you have probably guessed, I often find myself in altercations with my colleagues about open source software, particularly when it comes to the oh-so-exciting-world of learning management systems like Blackboard and WebCT. My basic position is that public universities should think carefully about spending money on commercial software, especially when free open source alternatives exist that can do the job better.
However, is there REALLY a solid and realistic free open source alternative to Blackboard and WebCT? I'm thinking, well, of course there's Tikiwiki, Drupal and various other CMS, but are these packages contain all of the features and ease-of-use as the commercial programs? I have yet to closely examine the open course software packages like Moodle and Open Course. I'm sure there are hundreds of possibilities, but which one is REALLY the best and polished enough to at least make an administrator pause before giving out the old "lack of support/reliability" excuse?
I'm curious to know what your opinions are on this matter. If I were going to propose a university-wide replacement for Blackboard or WebCT, IS there an existing open source content management system that could really do the job, or does such a system still need to be built? I'd also greatly appreciate your advice for persuading administrators (and even colleagues) about the merits of open source solutions and why public universities ought to seriously consider them as alternatives to established commercial packages like Blackboard.